Tim Focas, Head of Capital Markets and media training at Aspectus and City A.M./Daily Express political columnist, explains how successful financial market communicators can cut through the gibberish and jargon.
With a language all of its own, the highly complex nature of financial markets can seem like a world unto itself at times. It’s an industry so large and different from the others that it almost has to have its own special form of communication just to set it apart.
The problem is that for any new spokesperson or even a seasoned pro, the lingo that resonates in the boardroom has the opposite effect in a newsroom. Using mind boggling phrases such as “robust direct server-to-server connections supporting trading protocols” just doesn’t cut the mustard. With this in mind, why do so many persist down a path that the reporter doesn’t understand?
All too often, an interviewee uses complicated phrases to convey the “can’t mess it up“ point or to pollyfiller over a tricky part in the argument. Everyone likes to stick to what they know and for so many spokespeople in FS – complexity is a comfort blanket.
But what if your spokespeople could get the message across in everyday language? In other words, use plain simple English to answer a question. When Winston Churchill made his great speeches, the things that really shot through into the public consciousness was easy to digest Anglo-Saxon phrases. “We will fight them on the beaches, we will fight them on the landing grounds, we will never surrender.” Aside from surrender which derives from Latin, the rest of the words in this iconic speech are simple and easy to understand.
Taking a leaf out of Winston’s book will go a long way. Picture this scenario: an interview with a Financial Times reporter who is writing a Special Report on the role of technology in protecting markets from future insider trading scandals. Using real world analogies to explain a complex point is the best way to get quoted. Something like: “there’s too much at stake for regulators to rely on outdated technology to monitor for market abuse – it’s like chasing a Ferrari on a push bike.”
Speaking to a journalist is not the same as pitching to a CIO, COO or head of trading desk. No journalist is looking to buy a new execution, order management or market surveillance system, but they are looking for a story. When speaking to reporters, whether in the trade or business press, using easy to understand words provides the best possible chance of making it into a reporter’s final piece.