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If you’re in the fintech space, Jason Mikula is a somewhat familiar name. But to the 57,000 subscribers of his substack Fintech Business Weekly, he’s a celebrity and an essential source of inside-track information on the industry. 

57,000 may not seem like much in today’s currency of influencer marketing where the likes of Steven Bartlett can promote to an audience of millions. Yet, in a media economy where traditional print magazine circulation is dying, it’s an audience number that many trade media outlets would beg for. 

Fintech has always been an industry with well-known “influencers” like Ron Shevlin and Jim Marous. In recent years we’ve witnessed an evolution of this. A further blurring of the journalism and industry analyst worlds driven by substacks, podcasts, and LinkedIn enhancing its development publishing tools like newsletters

This was in evidence this week when Mikula not only got word of Treasury Prime laying off half of its workforce, but broke the story ahead of any formal announcement by the company and trade publication. It’s worth noting he has no background in journalism, rather he has had several roles in financial services in marketing, as an investor, or as a product manager.

He’s not the only industry expert commentator – I don’t particularly like the term “influencer” due to its connotations of pay-to-play and promotion – to build up a high-quality and engaged following using modern platforms. 

Ron Shevlin of Cornerstone Advisors has a LinkedIn following of 26k and his popular Fintech Snark Tank column regularly charts views upwards of 10k per article. Simon Taylor of Sardine and formerly of 11:FS fame has over 50k followers on LinkedIn and his substack Fintech Brainfood has 38k subscribers. 

What does this all mean for fintech PR and marketing strategy? 

You just cannot ignore them. They must be baked into your external comms strategy and viewed as a priority stakeholder group. We suggested giving them near-equal weighting to traditional journalists writing for trade and mainstream publications. 

But be warned. They require different treatment to journalists and their own ambitions and goals are different. They see connections with fintech leaders as interactions and meetings, not necessarily as interviews. They may also be more invested in getting intel out of a fintech spokesperson and more prone to receiving industry gossip. They may have less time and discipline around conventional journalistic rules like off the record and on background. And finally, writing up a story after meeting with a CEO, is maybe not a priority for them. 

As Treasury Prime shows, the connections that someone like Jason Mikula can build through a company can also end up in unwanted leaks and losing control of a story. 

Yet, the soft power they yield through connections in the industry and the ability to raise awareness of what a company is doing by mentioning them in their newsletter or inviting a leader they’ve built a relationship with onto their podcast (if it isn’t pay-to-play) could be invaluable. 

Sam Barber is a senior vice president in New York