Media News

Your guide to Friday’s 2023 Financial Follies

May 17, 2023

Posted by Bill C. Smith

This Friday, the New York Financial Writers’ Association will host its 80th Financial Follies, a convening of hacks and flacks at the intersection of business and media.

The last time this contributor wrote a how-to-prepare guide for the Follies, the event was held at the New York Hilton Midtown, one bitcoin was worth a little under seven grand, and I could not have used generative AI to write this article. In 2023, the Follies will be at the Edison Ballroom. I own 21/10000th of a Bitcoin and this column will be well written for the first time. Things are different.

ChatGPT is also available to help us prepare for the Financial Follies.

When prompted, its recommendation was to “arrive early to avoid long lines and to find your seat before the show starts.” It was also suggested that “The Financial Follies is a unique event that combines finance and entertainment, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.”

Since seating is determined by table and the “show” is a compilation of digital shorts submitted weeks before the event, this advice was clearly irrelevant.

The additional advice to “relax, and enjoy the show,” was absurd.

Because PR pros should not relax.

This is a chance to network with every reporter who has ignored your “just following-up” and “wondering if you could provide some feedback” emails. A chance to track down some of the most online people on the planet, but in real life.

Come prepared to network as if you’ve promised every client a feature story. A feature story with questions from the reporter in advance and a guaranteed quote check. This is the big finance dance.

Before the Follies

 Send your reporter invitations out early. Ideally they will have been sent weeks before you read this. And for all the reporters who read Talking Biz News, nothing endears you more to a PR than responding with “I wouldn’t be caught dead at that event” to an invite. We appreciate your feedback. We have heard you. We will do better.

All attendees should prepare themselves for a level of decadence rivaling that of a Clarence Thomas trip to Dallas. Open bar. Fancy clothes. Retractable roof. This is Midtown’s Met Gala.

 At the Follies

Don’t forget to take a moment to gaze at the stars. Or at the ceiling. If the retractable roof isn’t retracted as was the case last year.

Make sure to hydrate throughout the evening. All of the sprinting around the Edison Ballroom to network will dehydrate even the most vigorous of PRs.

Consider that you’ll meet a variety of people. There will be many in-house communications professionals that will remind you that they “remember agency life” recounting their experience as if they stormed the beaches at Normandy. Reporters from global news organizations will ask who you represent. Journalists from niche finance outlets with subscriptions more expensive than a Terminal and paywalls thicker than the walls at Helms Deep will ask if you’ve read their recent coverage.

For networking, ChatGPT recommends that PR pros “stay patient, persistent, and professional.” Not to be outdone by a computer, I hope to see you all succeed at sweet talking your way to a successful story starring several of your clients.

Post Follies

The conventional suggestion is to make sure that you follow all of the Blue Check Marks that you met at the event. But now that all of us are part of the musky unwashed masses, good luck out there.

Whether you’re a first-time attendee or a veteran editor that leaves immediately after dinner, I wish you well in your networking and/or financial journalism endeavors.

Hope to see you all on Friday.

Bill C. Smith is a senior vice president at The Bliss Group in New York.



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