Article by Melissa Andrews | esPResso Committee Member
Marist graduate Justin Meise is founder and president of Buttonwood Communications Group. Launched in February 2015, Buttonwood is a boutique public relations firm that specializes in the financial services industry.
Recently, Meise returned to his alma mater to speak on the “Finding Your Niche in the Public Relations Industry” panel at the Marist College PRSSA Regional Conference. Besides introducing his “public relations firm of the future,” he addressed students’ questions and gave advice for becoming a well-rounded professional. Meise made a point of advising students to challenge themselves. He spoke from experience – being that he created Buttonwood out of a need to challenge himself – and described complacency as a disadvantage and a precursor to disinterest. As such, Meise encouraged students to work on personal development outside of their comfort zones and to expand their skill sets. Reading, writing and absorbing information topped his list of ways to do so. This advice stuck with Marist senior Briana Flynn, who admired his “excellent points about exploring areas outside of your own field in order to grow professionally.”
Due to his career in the financial services industry, Meise addressed certain questions differently than his fellow panelists. For example, when discussing challenges public relations professionals are currently facing with emerging media, Meise noted how difficult such media trends can be hard for financial service businesses to adopt. Even the use of social media outlets – a given in most public relations strategies – must be argued for with some financial clients. “Big, stayed organizations are risk-adverse when it comes to publicity,” Meise explained, “because the industry is so regulated.”
Many students were surprised to hear this; Marist senior Stephanie Duffy said, “I found it interesting to learn about public relations strategies in an industry that I hadn’t fully understood before. I didn’t realize some of the complexities associated with financial public relations.” However, not all financial services clients are so disinclined to adopt modern public relations approaches. Meise is happy to be working with clients, such as one of the world’s largest indexing firms, who are following in his vision to modernize financial communication.
Meise and his team have great confidence in Buttonwood Communications Group. He expressed that they have “ambitious but realistic” goals for the future, and it is clear that Meise is up for the challenge.