December 2, 2013

The Financial Follies from a PR perspective

The 71st annual Financial Follies (“The Follies”) was held last Friday at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square and hosted by the New York Financial Writers’ Association.

The Follies is an event where reporters and public relations professionals alike engage in respectable behavior and generally call it a night after their second drink.

I’d been privy to yarns of Follies past and was eager to partake in the gala dinner while representing my firm.  Having participated in the Follies this past Friday, I would like to offer a few distinguishing factors that demonstrate why the Follies is the networking event of the PR/business media world:

The amount and diversity of outlets

Based on the crowd size — conservatively speaking about 1.7 million people (certain outlets, such as the New York Financial Writers Association had the official number at 900, but I’m going with my gut on this one) — the Follies is the ultimate networking event.  At our table (and I will list them because in an oversight they weren’t listed on the official Follies program), we had editors from Buzzfeed, The New York Post, and CFO Magazine, as well as reporters from Hedge Fund Manager (HFM) Week and The Wall Street Journal.  In addition, representatives from Business Insider, MarketWatch, TheStreet.com, and The Bond Buyer dropped by our table to partake in revelry and liberate various beverages.

Inside jokes and financial puns

What better venue to discuss the latest in financial journalist scuttlebutt?  During the Follies, an all-star cast of journalists take the stage and perform skits based on current events.  The performance rivaled that of “Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark,” and it was clear those on stage had invested their time and had a diversified range of skills.

Some inelegant members of the audience were clearly “Fed up and/or just Yellen” because they lacked a cultured character.  Either way, the show eventually tapered off and dinner arrived as our able waiters eased quantitative amounts of steak…I’ll stop.

Meeting reporters face-to-face

In previous posts, I’ve detailed my experiences meeting with journalists and forging professional relationships.  This event was perfect because it gave me and the other PR pros in attendance the opportunity to meet journalists and reporters in a festive setting, and none of the reporters could use the excuse that they were on deadline in order to avoid us.

If you work in public relations and didn’t attend – convince your boss for next year

The Follies don’t come cheap, but the access to reporters is unparalleled, and the event itself is sure to generate many a conversation the following Monday at work.  Plus, there are several sponsored after-parties with further opportunities for media networking in a professional setting.

Summary

The Follies is a unique and boisterous networking experience that can’t be missed if you’re a media professional.  The atmosphere, show, and singular access to influential and eclectic media personalities in attendance make this a must-attend event.

By Bill C. Smith

Bill C. Smith (@BillCSmith87) is a senior account executive at Dukas Public Relations in New York.