Money20/20 USA secured more media coverage than ever this year. Our analysis shows nearly 7,000 articles dating from mid-August to early November.
To give a comparison, other North American-held fintech conferences Sibos and FinTech Nexus each generated around 2,500 articles in a similar 2.5-month time span.
When it comes to media buzz, Money20/20 is the out-front leader.
But what does this tell comms professionals looking to craft and implement the perfect media strategy for Money20/20 in the future?
A detailed look behind the coverage numbers
The large majority of the nearly 7,000 unique articles mentioning Money20/20 were driven by company announcements.
Interestingly, though, 32% of coverage is published before the conference even starts. The week before is particularly high traffic for announcements as companies look to tout a product launch or promote thought leadership, perhaps looking to avoid the distraction and busyness of conference week.
They might well be justified. Nearly 4,000 articles alone were published during the week of Money20/20. Monday (day two) is overwhelmingly the biggest generator of coverage with close to 2,000 articles. Coverage and interest from the media drop considerably by the time day four comes around - this day’s coverage represents only 2% of total coverage for the week.
There is a steady flow of reporting post-conference for the two weeks after. This period will be largely from journalists writing up articles from sessions they attended and interviews they conducted. It should be considered a dead zone for company announcements.
What does this all mean for your Money20/20 media relations strategy?
Our strong sense from extensive conversations over four days around the event is that many companies were not organized with a battle-ready media relations plan.
Many did not seem to have on-the-ground people well equipped to deal with reporters and help secure coverage. In other words: the 300+ reporters there were certainly busy, as were the 350+ companies exhibiting – but the venn diagram overlap between the two worlds was heavily skewed to a minority of companies.
After a few weeks of analysis (and rest!), here are some recommendations:
- Have a good sense of how strong your announcement and story is
If you are a less established name and suspect your company story could get drowned out, issuing an announcement the week before is a perfectly reasonable strategy. If you’re a more established company and/or your announcement is significant and can compete for air time, then day two is the best day for an announcement during the week.
Try and road test in advance (there are ways) whether your news and content will be of specific interest to the type of reporters at Money20/20
Choosing when and how to announce news in and around Money20/20 is only part of the work, however.
- Be flexible with media and interview scheduling, but hustle during the week
Yes, aim to fix interviews several weeks in advance as much as possible – but recognize this is not always what reporters want. Many won’t even start thinking about the conference until quite late the week before it opens.
You need to supplement pre-planned interviews with being “in the face” of reporters in real-time at the event. In short - a media relations person (either in-house or agency) who is in live contact with reporters and secures extra interviews on-site by swinging by the press room regularly or reaching out on social media. I even managed to secure several interviews during the week by messaging reporters on the conference app.
There are also oftentimes last-minute requests for podcast panel participants or a roaming video crew who have a spare 15 minutes to do interviews with spokespeople without prep. Having an opportunistic mindset can reap rewards.
- Make full use of your company presence when interacting with media
The exhibition floor space was completely redesigned this year and was much easier to navigate.
Some companies certainly had interviews on their stands, but we think more firms should be integrating media relations into their stand activity. Introduce reporters to more of the team and any clients you have in tow. Many reporters tend to hunker down in the press room to do their work and outside of attending a session have little interest in touring the exhibition floor - give them some color from the floor or your stand.
- Aim for high-quality and more varied social media activity
Real-time social media activity was great from a minority of firms, but formulaic from many. One post of your team on your stand, a post beforehand, or a single post afterward is not going to make you stand out.
Get senior spokespeople to make substantive (not long, but insightful) posts in real time on trends they see at Money20/20 – e.g. disagreeing with a speaker perhaps. Combine this with tweets (Xs) and posts highlighting expert availability, or activities on your stand. Speaking on a panel should be on social media beforehand to say what they’re going to be talking about, and afterwards to expand on what you’ve said.
Finally, don’t be afraid to test out video - you don’t have to invest in a camera crew for the week. Just a modern(ish) phone and a tripod and you’ll be good to go. You’ll be surprised at the engagement you’ll get over a standard “Excited for Day 2 of Money20/20” post.
Sam Barber is an SVP in Cognito's New York office