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  • Writer's pictureJohn Cavender

Tackling Trade Media: Bank Innovation Editor Rick Morgan on Banking and Fintech Media

Rick Morgan, editor at Bank Innovation

Industry professionals know that the moment-to-moment coverage of their field is not printed in the pages of a national newspaper. Instead, these breaking updates appear in trade publications. For bankers working to grow profits and stay ahead of the industry, they receive highly-specific financial insights from specialized banking outlets.

For this month’s edition in our series “Tackling Trade Media,” we spoke with Rick Morgan, an editor at the leading banking trade, Bank Innovation. His coverage focuses on innovative new tools and services that banks and fintech businesses use to advance the industry. From our conversations, we’ve outlined some key mistakes you might make when sharing story ideas with trade media and working to drive interactions with a targeted banking audience.

Trade Mistake 1: Burying the Lede with Trends

“I get five hundred pitches a day,” Rick said, “so I don’t have time to research every company online.” His ideal story idea cuts right to the chase and explains exactly what the hard news is. It may seem obvious but, often, we tend to miss what’s right in front of us. In this vein, a major problem Rick has with story ideas is that they often include far too much context, going into trends that relate to the news being shared.

As we detailed in our prior blog about healthcare publications, trade outlets differ from local or national media, altering reporter priorities and dynamics. Rick does not need to be clued in on the context about a fintech or banking trend. He is deeply embedded in the fabric of the industry. Given his focus, he is aware of the industry’s most minute trends and how they are shifting day-to-day. Even a two-paragraph contextual intro is far too much, Rick shared.

Instead of dense background, which would be necessary for a reporter with a wider range of coverage, Rick and other trade reporters prefer an immediate indicator of the news. He also emphasized that while he is a specialist reporter, that doesn’t mean that he writes the way banking professionals do. He still uses everyday language to make his articles as accessible as possible. In order to best reach him and effectively share why a story would be of interest to him, you should also communicate in the straight-forward language he uses.

Trade Mistake 2: Forgetting to Enter the PIN

Story ideas that receive an immediate “delete” from Rick are the ones . . . that don’t involve banks. While it may seem as intuitive as remembering your card PIN, Rick says following the publication’s beat is something people often forget. While trade publications are often grouped together in broad categories like fintech or healthcare, each industry publication has its own specific focus like banking or medtech.

“If a business is doing something in crypto that doesn’t connect back to banks, then we are not interested in it, that is not a fit,” Rick said. “There are so many crypto publications out there. Go to them. If a business isn’t working with banks, then we will have to pass.”

Always be sure to not group trade media together too tightly — fintech is a broad term with many different facets. Rick is always looking for how a story connects to banks. Even with stories about emerging fintechs, a quote from a banking partner can spark Rick’s interest. If your business is not working with banks, you will need to very quickly explain how it is taking market share away from banks. If neither is the case, maybe look for another publication focused on whichever specific fintech innovation you are working on.

Most of Rick’s coverage centers around hard news like businesses raising funding or signing partners. To land a feature story on your businesses with Rick, you must explain how your company has advanced an effective mission for the long-term. When there are interesting results to look at, the story becomes relevant to banking professionals looking to learn more about industry advancements that are working.

Trade Mistake 3: Failing to Deliver Metrics or Lessons Learned

Rick highlighted that the banking and business professionals that read Bank Innovation are looking for ways to improve their business tactics and drive revenue. “Look, we are not advisors. We don’t want to tell people what they should invest in or what they should do,” he clarified. “Our job is to report on what people are doing, what is working for people and what isn’t. We need to dig into how people can make money.”

Stories with real-world examples demonstrate to banks how other institutions have implemented new technologies or services. This is far more newsworthy for a banking publication’s readers than vague trends or untested product launches. Providing clear metrics and business outcomes will land you a feature story faster, especially if a banking partner is willing to share lessons learned.

An area of the space where Rick believes we will continue to see important learnings and new insights is in the realm of consumer data. With the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in effect, data collection and usage by financial institutions are changing. Rick is interested in covering more stories on this topic and looks forward to learning more about what comes out of these changes and how the banking industry responds.

He noted that one of the key factors about the industry that differentiates it from other industries is the level of regulation in banking. The highly regulated space requires caution from all involved, and fintech businesses that work to innovate processes for banks need to work within these restrictions. This also gives tech businesses opportunities to help banks update and innovate difficult processes.

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