By Mara Conklin, president and founder of Clarus Communications, a results-driven public relations and social media firm.
Executives pondering an exit strategy for their company, such as an IPO, an acquisition or venture capital funding, work hard to make their business as attractive as possible. This often includes shoring up financial records, ensuring positive cash flow, demonstrating a history of profitability and protecting intellectual property.
Smart executives also hire a public relations firm. Public relations can be a powerful tool in an exit strategy, but it requires executives to reveal their goals upfront and in detail. Public relations can accelerate an exit strategy in several ways:
PR can drive leads. A well-planned public relations program will be results-driven, and the holy grail of results is sales. A PR program can drive sales and foster customer engagement in several ways:
- Through articles that demonstrate the benefits of a company or product
- Using communications strategies that drive website traffic where leads can be tracked
- Providing useful information to prospects
- Engaging prospects through social media
PR can raise brand awareness. Public relations can help spread news that will attract the attention of suitors. This includes news about company and industry growth, hirings, awards and recognitions, rankings, new customers, etc. We worked with a company seeking to be acquired, and for six months focused our news efforts on growth-related topics. For another company, we accelerated their PR budget into the first six months of the year, creating a flurry of activity that got them noticed.
PR can make executives more valuable. An important asset in many companies is the expertise of its executives. Positioning executives as industry thought leaders not only draws attention to a company but also makes it and its executives more valuable. This is the strategy we used a few years ago to help a small company draw the attention of a larger firm.
PR can highlight company differentiators. Each industry is unique and has its own measure of worth. For example, an industry may value innovation, growth or independence. We worked with a company that was the only independent provider in the industry, so all our communications efforts highlighted this unique position, which helped attract a suitor.
Finally, a good public relations strategist can help companies position themselves strongly against competitors and identify opportunities in the marketplace.