How Public Relations Can Lead to a Liquidity Event
Several of our previous posts have discussed the different benefits that public relations can have on your business. There is also much to be said about the impactful role that sustained PR campaigns can play in a company that is seeking to merge with another or trying to become an attractive candidate for acquisition. While this is not a goal for everyone, your long-term business strategy will likely evolve at some point and M&A could be a possibility. If this change happens and your public relations efforts are ancient history, the viability of a merger or acquisition is already weakened. To help ensure the future success of your business the PR groundwork needs to be laid now. Here are four reasons why:
- Positive positioning. A sustained PR campaign that includes comprehensive earned media initiatives has the potential to signal to interested parties, whether they be private equity, a competitor or strategic partner, a positive level of corporate growth and momentum. Publicizing new customer wins, expanded staff and other corporate milestones will put you on the radar of other companies that may not have known of your existence or did not realize that your company commands a significant share of the market. Additionally, having the experts within your company author thought leadership bylines allows potential acquires to see expertise and credibility backing up your value proposition.
- Public Relations provides independent validation. Once you’re involved in an M&A, your company is going to go through an intensive vetting process before an offer is tendered. However, before this even happens a potential partner or future owner is going to research the reputation and knowledge-base of your company. This is where the different values of marketing and public relations campaigns come into play. While both provide your business with advantages over your competitors, public relations gives you the independent validation from your industry that marketing alone cannot. When reporters are using your business or specific members of its staff as a resource when crafting stories, the exposure you gain is exceptionally valuable as: it’s earned and cannot be bought, establishes trust with both M&A targets and end-users, and shows that your offerings are likely highly regarded in the marketplace.
- Staying ahead of the story. When approaching a merger or acquisition, you’ll want to position your business strategically to attract the consideration of the best prospects. To help accomplish this, a PR firm can help you be the story instead of follow the story. Once a communications strategy has been developed with your firm with this objective in mind, they can begin creating press releases, pitching reporters, writing bylines, crafting social media, and providing general outreach so that future news will be generated that includes this important new language designed to get the attention of your target audience. It won’t happen overnight, but a PR campaign built to establish a more favorable impression with M&A prospects will show its value once the deal is reached.
- Successful event and tradeshow PR will expand your networking and affiliation with potential M&A companies. Getting attention at industry events is both important and difficult. Your PR strategy in this area revolves around securing speaking opportunities for influential events and tradeshows, publication of your event attendance/sponsorship/product demonstration in news outlets, and the ability to reference and offer knowledge on published news articles and/or bylines from your company in widely read publications so that you (and not your competitors) will stand-out as you attract and talk with business prospects. An M&A offer won’t be proffered at a tradeshow, but the conversation can start there if your company is positioned correctly.
Mergers and acquisitions are not simple processes nor are they the primary goal of every business. However, once the decision has been made every path for success needs to be utilized. If the public relations groundwork has been laid, your business will show high growth, healthy profitability, respect within the industry and independent validation, all of which will lead to an attractive valuation and appealing offer. The most important factor is time, which will be evident to your M&A audience as they identify the companies that have been engaging in PR over the long-term and those that have just begun.
Brendon Stellman authors the column “Pure BS” and is Vice President, Director of Client Relations for Milldam Public Relations.