The ABCs of IPOs (and Public Companies) for PR – Part Two

By October 6, 2020Funding, IPO, Public Relations

In Part One of our IPO blog series, we laid out the steps for the pre-IPO process. Now we want to take you through listing day and post-IPO tips to ensure your process is as smooth as possible. 

Public relations professionals often execute strategies for private companies with two relationships in mind: analyst relations and media relations. PR strategies for public companies require two more prongs — investor relations (IR) and legal requirements. Independent organizations and websites exist for the sole purposes of reporting on and analyzing the financial health of public companies; shareholders and investors will have access to your client’s financial information regardless of the strength of your team’s IR strategy. 

The number one tip we can offer is to connect with your client’s IR team as much as possible. The more insight you have into their direct communications with investors, the more equipped you will be to handle events like earnings calls or financially related crises. Building a strong IR relationship will help address the heightened scrutiny your client’s company will face after their listing, as a publicly traded company. 

  • Identify the investors you’re targeting. This is a similar process to identifying media targets, except that with investors looking to, well, invest, there is a bit more at stake. 
  • Think about how your IPO or public status will impact current and prospective customers. Will prospective new customers be more or less likely to select a publicly traded vendor? 
  • Identify risk components. Mapping out a plan for mitigating effects of the unexpected will help ensure a smooth listing day. This includes creating a crisis communications plan. What happens if a major catastrophe occurs during or just before the listing?

Filing S1, File Quiet Period 

As a PR person you can’t do anything that’s seen as hyping a stock price. You can still do communications but be sure to keep at the rhythm you had before filing. Build up cadence beforehand so that it doesn’t appear if you’re doing something to hype. 

Listing Day: Be Prepared; Be Careful

Most of the heavy lifting involved for IPO listings occurs in the lead up to listing day. During this time period, it is especially crucial to have an internal communications plan in place. Employees on social media might unwittingly let slip information vital to the listing. Some especially persistent reporters may try calling individuals that aren’t at the C-level to see if they can glean any insight. Make sure your clients have an internal process for these types of situations.

After ensuring employees understand internal communications strategies, planning media outreach should be the next focal point. 

  • Plan events and promotional activities. This helps keep the momentum going and creates an environment where reporters, analysts and investors can mingle with company spokespeople in person.
  • Target and train the correct spokespeople well in advance. Strong messaging is crucial to a successful listing day.

Post-Listing: Build on Momentum

Now it’s time to build on the momentum that your client generates with its listing. The obstacle you may encounter is that the IPO listing will be the first and last question in every reporters’ notebook. To avoid this situation, it’s important to develop a strong PR push with other storylines. 

Develop product-focused stories and see if any customers might be willing to go on record about their use of your client’s tools. The financial news of the IPO can easily obfuscate other facets of your communications plan. Keep hammering on non-IPO pitches in the lead up, during and immediately after the listing day; getting those pieces of content in the pipeline will make it easier to ride the momentum your listing creates.

So You’re Public. Now What?

Be patient. Publicly traded companies sometimes employ in-house PR teams to liaise with firms; they have separate IR teams; they have legal teams; they take much longer to approve content and media briefings. Public companies have stakeholders who care about the direction the company takes and the way they appear in news stories. 

Be Flexible. Managing public companies’ PR plans requires having multiple ideas, campaigns and announcements in the pipeline at all times. And, while inbound media requests might increase, the reality is the company will likely be more selective about who they want to talk to based on time constraints what they’re permitted to discuss. PR firms may not be looped into a story until the last second for legal or other reasons. You and your team must be ready to jump on something quickly. 

You already know the basics. Public companies and IPOs require that you make adjustments to your processes and set different expectations. Trust your instinct but be wary of the added scrutiny.

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