Basis points, the yield curve, PE ratios, derivatives, bonds. Financial services has a lot of jargon. Most industries do. For the most part it’s useful: a shorthand for concepts that might otherwise require explanation.
Jargon is a byproduct of expertise. For professionals working with these concepts every day, it’s natural to assume general understanding of the concepts and shorthand you’ve mastered.
However, when it comes to communicating, this expertise can work against your company’s goals. When speaking to potential clients, the inability to present complicated ideas in simple, approachable terms can be alienating. If companies aren’t careful, this communication challenge can push potential customers to competitors – many of whom might be a worse fit with a better pitch.
One of the main jobs of marketing and communications teams is to bridge this jargon gap. In creating client materials, it’s vital to make sure that the team’s expertise is presented in a way that’s easily understood.
This challenge is made even more complex in interactions with media. Generally speaking, reporters are smart and knowledgeable about the industries they cover. They understand complex topics and jargon.
At the same time, reporters don’t work inside of the industry. Their job is to take information and make it understandable to readers with various levels of understanding. As a result, experts need to keep several things in mind when speaking to reporters:
- Remember that education is part of the job – In some cases, reporters will have as much or more knowledge about a spokesperson’s industry as the spokesperson themselves. In others, education is key. Spokespeople should go into interviews prepared to do the work of explaining complex topics and ideas.
- Take a step back – Relatedly, it’s helpful for spokespeople to pause in their responses to make sure that everything makes sense. While some reporters will jump in when confused, others prefer to refocus an interview on a different topic, a potential lost opportunity for the company.
- Be wary of jargon – Even if a reporter understands the industry terminology, their readers may not. If all a spokesperson’s comments are jargon-heavy, reporters may be discouraged (or unable) to use them in a story.
- Make sure you’re on the same page – Watch out for signs that the interviewer isn’t following your train of thought. If so, be ready to reframe your points in simpler language.
- Remember, you’re providing value to the press – In the excitement and opportunity of participating in a media interview, it’s easy to forget that a spokesperson is on the call to provide useful information. This idea be central to the spokesperson’s approach to the conversation.
On this last point, the best way to secure regular, on-message media coverage is to prove to be a valuable resource to media. Remember, a successful communications program meets your audience’s needs first.