This month In the Tank, we talk to Paulina Likos, a staff writer with U.S. News & World Report covering investing. She joined us to discuss the rise of investment coverage for everyday consumers, trends within the vertical, and how she prefers to work with PR professionals.
Your coverage at U.S. News & World Report is a great balance of investing basics helping to navigate the stock market, while giving timely updates on how news from the current administration, changes in economy, or other events can affect your assets. Can you share more with us on your process around identifying timely topics for your readers? How do you plan and select your story topics?
As consumers, we are inundated with information. While it’s important to stay up-to-date with global events, sometimes it can be difficult to sift through the details you need to know as it relates to every day investors making decisions about their financial futures. This is the first thing I keep in mind as I’m generating story ideas.
Apart from being plugged into online news, I’m an avid subscriber to newsletters, podcast aficionado and lover of financial blogs. All these forums are great ways for me to see what news items are being covered and to what extent, as well as what’s being under covered. If I’m able to spot gaps or dig further on a topic that is ‘hot’ in the news cycle, I tend to come up with timely and helpful story topics our readers find appealing.
We’re seeing social media influencers join the conversation on investing advice. Many are now paid to promote investments in certain crypto currencies to their followers, despite how volatile they may be. How can a DIY investor truly read through the lines to understand what is actually a good investment vs. sheer online hype?
There is a huge market for social media content on investing. So much so that it could be tainted with misinformation. It’s important for investors to know that social media at the end of the day is a marketing tool and that you should be wary when you see uncanny celebrity endorsements.
For younger investors it can be tempting to take on more risk in speculative investments, but before you invest or trade any kind of asset class or investment vehicle, it’s best to do your own research to understand the investment. This can help significantly reduce your investment risk.
When investors do their due diligence, they can get a better idea of which influences are putting out responsible content versus adding to the hype. The more information you guard yourself with, the easier it will be to spot inconsistencies.
Beyond U.S. News & World Report, your personal social channels have served as another place for you to share current finance news of importance and provide sound DIY financial insights. What topics do you see your audiences needing the most help or guidance with when it comes to investing?
I find that my audience engages with news I put forth on my social media related to cryptocurrencies, individual securities and trends and patterns in the stock market. While this information is readily available online, sometimes it can be challenging to make sense of information coming out of these spaces and more importantly, understand why it’s important for the investor.
Cryptocurrency has been a popular one because it is a speculative, volatile and emerging asset class that has taken the investing world by storm. Digital assets like Bitcoin, Ethereum and a slew of alternative coins have grabbed and held the market’s attention for a variety of reasons given that there is an education gap on this topic, people are eager to learn more about it.
There is also a lot of attention around identifying the next big stock to invest in. That said, investors like to stay informed on what companies are doing to have an edge against competitors and how certain stocks or sectors are performing.
As a PR agency, we always want to serve journalists to the best of our ability. How do you prefer to work with PR professionals for your stories? Where can PR pros add the most value to your work?
I appreciate this question!
When it comes to pitching story ideas to write about, I like to collaborate with PR professionals who are on the ground with subject matter experts, because then we can cultivate a refined topic that’s meaningful and valuable to the reader.
I enjoy meeting with PR professionals on a monthly basis to have an exchange of ideas, that way we are aligned with the information we put out for the audience.
Before your career as a reporter, you worked for The Federal National Mortgage Association, Fannie Mae. How did you make the leap from working at Fannie Mae as a risk manager to a career in journalism? What was the catalyst for the change?
Prior to being an investing journalist, I was an analyst for Fannie Mae’s Single-Family business. It was a valuable experience to be able to analyze the performance of the company’s customers, make meaning out of trends, variables and metrics and collaborate across business divisions to bring business solutions for our customers.
My time as an analyst helped reinforce my passion for storytelling. I find value in bringing meaning out of data, numbers and trends and writing about them in a comprehensible and meaningful way for all investors, regardless of their level of experience.
The catalyst for the change was wanting to know how the world is connected and how different variables like human behavior, economics, finance and politics and policy work together and influence one another. These are some of the components I try to pull from each of my interviews and what ultimately excites me as an investing reporter, investor, global citizen and student of life.