We’ve often heard the mantra “private equity is private for a reason”, a turn of phrase used by private equity firms to defend their lack of public engagement and transparency.
Far too many private equity firms, both in the UK and US, have PR agencies on standby ready to respond to all media enquiries with a simple “no comment”. We would argue that this is an ineffective use of a communications agency.
In the increasingly competitive world of private equity, it is essential for fundraising, deal origination and even in attracting the right human capital, that the private equity world reconsiders its approach to marketing and communications, and dare we say it, adopt Peregrine’s own mantra “Communicate though words, pictures and actions”.
We’ve provided our top 6 tips for effective marketing and communications for private equity firms:
1. Spend the time walking journalists through the story (or non-story!)
Providing a routine ‘no comment’ to media rarely yields the right result.
Providing a routine ‘no comment’ to media rarely yields the right result. While some private equity firms prefer to remain below the radar, this can still be achieved by adopting a more strategic approach to media relations.
An effective press office, be it internal, or outsourced to a PR agency, will ensure that when a media enquiry is inbound time is spent talking media through the issues surrounding a particular investment, providing greater context, and walking them through the facts. Done effectively a story can be put to bed, or at the very least the heat can be taken out of a story, your firm better positioned and the story more accurately reported.
2. Introduce your principals to the key private equity correspondents
Taking the time to meet with the media face to face, will give you the opportunity to communicate your investment approach and track record in your sector. This will not only generate goodwill with the journalists you meet, but the time spent will also ensure you are better understood, which will come across in the media reporting of your firm’s investments.
3. Be known for your specialism and investment approach
The London private equity market is awash with new entrants. To stand out from the crowd it is important that you communicate your firm’s specialism and edge, what is it you want to be known for? What makes your investment approach different from that of your competitors? Do you have a sector focus and specialism?
An effective marketing and communications strategy begins with well thought out messaging that identifies and articulates your firm’s unique DNA
An effective marketing and communications strategy begins with well thought out messaging that identifies and articulates your firm’s unique DNA. This messaging should run through all your communications from investor relations and media relations, right through to the way that you communicate with the employees of your portfolio companies.
4. Increase your news flow
Tell us what you are doing – announce your new deals, explain what the strategy is for the investment you have made. This will improve your overall search engine optimization (SEO), ensuring that when an LP searches your name in Google, they can quickly build a picture of your firm and its investments.
5. Tell your story through your portfolio company
The private equity story is yours to tell, and is often best told through your own portfolio companies.
The private equity story is yours to tell, and is often best told through your own portfolio companies. Bring your website to life with illustrative case studies and video content. Allow the CEOs of your portfolio companies to speak out on the value of private equity ownership. An improved website that uses case studies and video will also enhance your overall SEO, ensure that your Google first page – your online corporate brochure – is controlled by your content as much as possible.
6. Showcase your talent and become a thought leader
Your people are your best assets. Showcase the talent of your principals by positioning them as thought leaders. Identify private equity themes that you can own, and become known for among your peer group by having your principals speaking at regular industry conferences in addition to publishing your own research, white papers, opinion pieces and, offering industry commentary to the private equity media.