How PR and AR can help on the path to an Initial Public Offering

Is your company thinking of going public one day? Or, have you already started down the Initial Public Offering (IPO) path? If yes, your PR team can play a bigger role than you may think in helping you to make it a success and create ongoing momentum following your listing day.

Messaging is always important, but even more so when your company is preparing to go public. Too often, companies are cautious to continue marketing and PR outreach efforts for fear of being in non-compliance with regulatory guidelines, but there is a way to communicate with your audience while being mindful of the rules you must follow. It starts by having your PR team closely aligned with your Investor Relations (IR) team as well as your legal counsel. In fact, the three groups really need to become best friends, work cohesively and collaborate effectively. When these teams are in lock step, you can carefully plan communications that will benefit your company’s brand awareness before the IPO, after the listing day and during your time as a public company.

At TechComms, we’ve supported clients through the IPO process acting in the role of a trusted advisor and helping them to prepare their IPO PR strategy.

Here are three things we’ve learned and how they can help you strategically optimise your PR and analyst relations (AR) programme during this exciting time for your company.

Messaging matters more than ever. This is no time to skip the messaging sessions or sourcing calls with your PR team. In fact, you need to step them up and make them more frequent. With many moving parts to consider and new rules/regulations to account for, messaging work is essential. Not only are you beginning to engage and speak with a new audience of investors, you have to be clear in your messaging with customers and employees so spending the time to create a messaging strategy is important.

The tone of your messaging will need to shift slightly, but this doesn’t need to be jarring or stray too far off your brand path. If you’ve been talking only about products and their features rather than benefits and value, you may have more work to do because now is the time you want to speak in the language of customers and showcase the value you deliver not just in terms of solutions, but in your expertise and authority in the space/market you play in. Thought leadership and tone play a bigger role now. Inviting PR to be part of the discussions early and aligning them with IR can help you create a strong messaging platform.

This is also the time to be more thoughtful about the spokespeople you have representing you to various audiences. They all need to be newly media trained to ensure they stay on point and speak to topics and information that has been vetted and cleared by your legal team and have been cleared to stay within the parameters of regulatory guidelines. Your PR team can assist with media training and prepare messaging briefing documents that can be used by spokespeople to ensure they’re discussing only what’s within the approved messaging framework.

Be consistent and keep the content funnel churning. Many companies reflexively stop all external outreach once an IPO is pending. While it’s important to be cautious, stopping all press releases and campaigns hinders opportunities to create important awareness for your company and establish yourself with new audiences. Yes, you must follow the rules and you’re not going to be launching any new products during this time. But scheduling press releases consistent with your communication strategy is advised. You’ll need to plan ahead because press releases will take longer to be approved and need sign off from legal. Continue to blog, write contributed articles for publication, stay active on social and hone in on releasing news/information and an expert point of view that builds your story without overstepping any regulatory requirements.

This is also a great time to schedule press and analyst briefings to introduce your company backstory and bring them up to speed on what you do to help your customers. While you can’t discuss future plans, you can start a dialogue that will serve you well once your company is public. And, when the mandatory quiet period begins, this is when you want to start planning for what comes next.

Create a timeline of campaigns to carry you beyond listing day and build your profile as a newly public company. Listing day doesn’t mean the work is over. Quite the contrary, the work of PR is really just beginning. PR becomes even more critical as you work to keep your company top of mind in your industry and with your investor community. Building a pipeline of campaigns is helpful and doing all of the prep work (e.g., content creation, media outreach strategy etc.) in advance will serve you well. Lean on industry analysts to help you flesh out your value proposition and your PR team can build this out further into messages that will resonate with your media audience. It’s likely the IR team will handle the investor media, but that doesn’t mean that the PR team shouldn’t be involved in those briefings. The two groups can learn a great deal from each other. With careful coordination, they can maximise media outreach opportunities to raise your profile with all of your key audiences.

If your company is preparing for an IPO or has recently listed, our team can help you create a position of strength that sets you up for success. Let’s work together. Contact us on info@techcomms.co.uk.