As it is rightly said, “It takes years to build customer trust and loyalty but just one untoward incident is enough to ruin the goodwill that was built over years.” And the success or failure of the Initial Public Offering or IPO, is a direct measure of a brand’s ‘customer valuation’. Understandably, the time prior to the IPO – from the day a brand decides to move from being a personal/privately owned company to becoming a public enterprise, is a crucial one, as it then needs to have renewed focus on building and maintaining its brand positioning and identity in the public eye.
In additionin to bankers, solicitors, corporate financial advisors and consultants, the branding and marketing team also comes into play to ensure a wholesome approach to a successful IPO. In such circumstances, PR can help in several ways than one. IPOs could be a complex, lengthy, tedious procedure and PR advantages are naturally equipped to not only create a winning brand image but to also effortlessly manage any minor or major crisis situations and turn in favour of the brand – a skill extremely useful when dealing with unpredictable internal or external crisis.
Here are the four reasoned explanations why brands could immensely benefit from investing in PR, well before, during and after the IPO.
- Enhancing Brand Awareness:
Correct positioning of a brand is critical to build awareness about its potential in its business domain. When done cautiously and accurately, it will also help to make sure that the good news spread among the key audience of the company, because of which there exists a fair degree of discussion in the market. It makes possible for the organization to engage and acquire mind-space in the channel and among influencers in the broking and fund management groups. A well-planned course of action for the coverage campaign over a long period has the potential to confidently influence market sentiments about the organization.
- Professional communication advisory:
As soon as if you are in to the IPO process, you’ll recognize there are rigid guidelines about what you can and cannot say through the IPO process. The typical principles of communications differs from the others in this engagement. Going from private to public is a change, you should always be aware of the procedure, disclosure guidelines, and all sorts of needs which are legal/regulatory accessibility where you could jump in. An experienced PR team will be able to guide you with the appropriate messaging and tonality of statements, targeted communication campaigns and also on the essentials of handling media queries and interviews, specifically when it comes to difficult, controversial, or sensitive questions.
- Planning of Post IPO
Getting public is really a massive shift for a brand and brings with it, the transformative approach to the not only the manner in which the company conducts business or communicates but how it holistically engages with the entire ecosystem of its stakeholders. From dealing with internal challenges to vendor and partner engagements, investor relations, brand and product marketing campaigns and social outreach etc., everything comes under close scrutiny, constantly. An experienced PR team can expertly help brands to navigate these complex challenges and emerge stronger and more appreciated, among the stakeholder community. Apart from this, PR also helps brands to chalk out a consolidated brand building plan which is consistent and aligned with the brands long term business goals, making it a structured and wholesome approach to brand building.
- Crisis Communications in Plan:
Given the scrutiny and the constant spotlight of the public eye, it is easy for small untoward actions to become major issues or for bigger incidents to become even more fatal to a brand’s public image. Here again, a consistent and relentless PR activation works to cushion a brand under such circumstances and if and if and when a crisis does arrive, it helps to deflate the same, with least possible damage to the brand reputation. Rightly so, as every experienced Public Relations follows exactly what Phil McGraw said, “Don’t wait until you’re in a crisis to come up with a crisis plan”. Further, a focussed crisis communication plan follows through a strategic course of action which includes communications preparation for the executive team across advertising/marketing, legal and at times finance including any major stakeholders associated with business.
While the above 4 points encompass the overall communication and stakeholder engagement plan to build and maintain a positive brand reputation, this groundwork needs to start way in advance, so as to build a solid foundation. Be it 4 years or 5 years, once there has been a decision to go for an IPO, brands start working towards a balance sheet and valuations. In these times of hyper connected and well informed consumers, social media influencer reviews and a hyper connected world, brand reputation is also a currency that a company needs to invest in, through PR, to ensure the long lasting valuation of the brand is maintained and strengthened over the years.
This article is authored by – Anindita Gupta, Co-Founder, Scenic Communications Pvt Ltd.