IPO PR Ground Rules (Part 1): Facing the music, the experts, the haters and the actors
Today, we’re beginning what will be an ongoing series that looks at some of the IPO PR ground rules to know when it comes to taking your company public. It’s worth taking a moment to share some advice around IPO day that CEOs, CMOs and PR heads can take to heart.
Assuming you’ve followed all of the best IPO PR advice out there leading up to IPO day, there are a few other ground rules you might want to keep in mind as things get close to the big day (in no particular order):
Everyone’s an expert
The moment your company’s S1 is filed, you are suddenly on radars you’ve never been on before. Analysts, reporters and just about anyone who has a vested or unvested interest in you are suddenly claiming to be experts. Some of them might be, but many of them aren’t. From a PR perspective, resist the urge to respond to every speck of criticism and commentary. It won’t help your cause, and in many cases, you won’t be allowed to due to SEC quiet period rules. If you’ve been telling your story the right way and the S1 contains the correct, valid and relevant information, your company will rise to the top.
Dance with who brung ya
Along similar lines, you’re going to going to hear a lot of advice from people telling you what you need to do differently. Resist the urge act on it. You know where the pitfalls are better than anyone. More importantly, you’ve put business, PR and marketing plans in place that have lead you to where you are today. Your fundamentals should be in place and you’ve done well to get to this point. Embrace that.
Act like you’ve been there before
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said this to my IPO clients. It’s become a mantra of sorts. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your company and proud of your accomplishments, but remember that journalists and investors are looking to your company to be a sound investment, not a fun group of people who know how to party on IPO day. Gimmicks should be avoided unless it’s relevant to the product. One great example of this was when Hilton went public. On IPO day, they provided floor traders with Hilton robes. As was famously stated in Spinal Tap, “It’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.” Hilton went the clever route and it got some positive media coverage. I’ve been in several IPO day strategy sessions where the topic of special IPO t-shirts came up. More often than not, they fall on the stupid side of the line. Remember: Act like you’ve been there before and you’ll rarely go wrong.
Expect haters (See “Everyone’s an expert” above)
I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in the blogosphere. While not new, seems to be more present these days: Writers who try to hitch their wagon to listed companies while snarking on them all the way. They specialize in negative articles that poke and prod a particular company, both in their bylined articles and on social media. It’s an easy way for them to gain followers and website hits. It can also be easy to let it get under your skin. Even though it’s hard, do your best to take these missives with a grain of salt. These reporters’ true colors become obvious rather quickly.
In my next post, we’ll take a closer look at how adrenaline plays a key role in how IPO day plays out.
If you’d like to know more about how a company can maximize its IPO with a sound communications strategy, drop me a line or ask a question in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you!