IPOs and PR – How one can help the other

Jason Ouellette

For well over a year we had known that one of our clients was working towards the filing of a proposed IPO. With other recent experiences in taking clients public, we worked with them through the S-1 filing, talked as a group about activities we could do prior, during and post-event and there was a general sense of excitement from our team here at PAN as some of the people on the team hadn’t gone through the IPO process before so it was new and eye opening.

So I thought it would make some sense to take a look at a few things a PR team should provide to its clients and what a PR professional should know/be aware of while working through the IPO process.

What your PR agency should create and have ready to go:

FAQ – Your client’s staff is bound to get asked general questions once their intention is known. What should they say? What can they say?

IPO 101 Handbook – Do your engineers know what a ‘Road Show’ is and what are the CEO and CFO doing on it? Does the sales team know how to adhere to the ‘Quiet Period’? Spell out all nuances about an IPO and explain why each piece of the process means so much to the goal.

Social Media Policy Handbook – What can’t be said should be called out. What channels should your staff be concerned about? What about those blogs that are taking shots at the company? Can we respond?

Employee / Customer/Partner Notices – Those that are close to you should be sent something that explains the next phase of growth for your company. Let them celebrate in your success with you!

 

What four things PR professionals can do to make themselves more valuable during and after the IPO process:

1. Educate yourself

Terms like disclosure, prospectus, quiet period and underwriter are not everyday terms in the world of B2B public relations – but you should know what they all mean and how they play a role in your program moving forward.

2. Know the goals

You need to truly understand what your clients goals are from a PR standpoint heading in and then set expectations. One thing you will find out is that most lawyers during this time don’t like our clients saying that much. But how can you get around that and still keep pushing your thought leadership? What programs can you set up that are driven by you and your client?

3. Generalize your reading

The one thing this process does for PR pros is it opens the door for more opportunities – business and broadcast outlets are more apt to speak with publicly traded companies on certain topics and you need to know how to work your clients angle/POV into ongoing business, economic or even political discussions.


4. Don’t get comfortable because you have a Ticker Symbol

That is no silver bullet. You are not guaranteed anything because you are calling for a company that is now traded on the NYSE or NASDAQ. You still need to work on selling your executives background, history and knowledge of certain topic. And that window is smaller. With so many executives now being tasked with being the face of their organization and with more taking to the likes of Facebook and Twitter, there is more competition than ever before in grabbing that spotlight so get up to speed on talking points.

 

In late July, Tangoe, headquartered in Orange, CT began trading on the NASDAQ. They happen to be one of the companies going public during the busiest week of IPOs since November 2007. As it turned out they were one of the two IPO darlings during this run of offerings – ending their first day up nearly 20 percent (with the
other, Dunkin Brands ending up 50 percent.) It was a chance to celebrate for all the executives, board of directors and employees at Tangoe and I was lucky
enough to be on hand the day their CEO, Al Subbloie rang the closing bell at the NASDAQ to conclude their entry into the public markets.

Our team at PAN worked very hard to pull off our part during this momentous occasion and was also able to broker some new relationships for
future opportunities as we come out of our quiet period and look to position the company and its executives as market leaders not only within the expense
management marketplace but also throughout the general business landscape as this company was able to have such a successful IPOs during one of the most
tumultuous times on Wall Street.

The final point here is that satisfying feeling when people understand and see the power of PR when done right. As I said earlier, the team was able to secure some interviews with Al during these two days, but one in particular was a live business broadcast piece from NASDAQ during which the entire floor went silent and the TV monitors were all tuned to FOX Business to watch Al answer questions about not only the successful IPO but also about on-going financial reform in Washington, D.C. The 100 plus Tangoe employees, Board of Directors and NASDAQ staff on hand erupted with a cheer as soon as it concluded and went to commercial – they saw something that got not only them excited – but their PR team as well. More to come…

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