Media Voices: A Conversation with Tom Burroughes, Group Editor, Clearview Financial Media
The Covid-19 pandemic has provided a communications challenge for firms – but it’s also completely changed the working environment for those journalists reporting on those firms.
In this latest instalment in our ‘Media Voices’ series, we speak to Tom Burroughes, Group Editor at wealth management specialist publisher Clearview Financial Media…
Q: How easy has it been to use online platforms to speak with contacts you would have normally met face to face, or have you relied entirely on the telephone?
TB: It has been easy in nearly all cases. Wealth managers, lawyers, PRs and others seem comfortable with talking on the phone, via digital platforms, although I notice some moving towards the phone rather than video because the latter can be quite exhausting over a period of time. It is sometimes quite interesting for them to see me in my home environment and vice versa!
Q: What has been the most difficult feature about lockdown as a journalist working in the finance sector?
TB: Getting a sense of the mood out there and missing on the networking opportunities at events where you get gossip and information that is simply not as easy to get when you are stuck in front of a computer. Digital networking just isn't the same. It can sometimes be harder to check stories if you cannot get to see people.
Q: Have you been surprised by the number of press releases and announcements that have continued during lockdown or has there been a noticeable decline in general news?
TB: I think the output has been pretty robust, but there has been a bit of a drop because so much of the industry is focused on this subject, excluding many other subjects. I have been worried that important issues are potentially getting missed in all the Covid coverage.
Some press releases from firms are a bit formulaic and lack originality and freshness. In one or two rare cases, I have got press releases from people that are crass, such as talking about private jets in March when mainstream flying was halted, or telling me about how I could rent properties in a lockdown in supposedly safer parts of the country. Most PRs seem to have understood the need to be sensitive, to be fair. And they love it when I suggest a non-virus topic I want to talk about!
Q: How easy has it been to talk to firms in the private wealth space about their response to coronavirus?
TB: Fairly easy - as always I usually initiate by phone and email to the firms, but some have come forward. I find that the industry welcomes sector journalists like me who reach out, even to make sure people are okay.
I actually think some of my relations have strengthened and there is a sense of camaraderie in the sector. The wealth sector knows it does important work and will have a lot to do in rebuilding business and prosperity.