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The IPO Window Is Opening: Here’s How To Get Your Media Relations Program Ready
By: Amy Dardinger Nov 16, 2023 11:30:00 AM
After a slowdown in 2022 and early 2023, the IPO window is beginning to open once again. Recently, multiple companies, including Klaviyo and Instacart, made their public debuts. While it may be too soon to declare the window wide open, the positive traction provides hope for companies looking to follow suit.
For companies and founders eyeing an IPO in the future, a strong PR strategy is needed to engage stakeholders, build credibility and avoid missteps. Let’s break down the steps for building a media program in the lead-up to an initial public offering.
Align on Timeline
The first step is to discuss the timeline internally. It’s important for all involved parties – from finance to marketing – to have a general timeline in mind so they can properly prepare. Of course, there’s no crystal ball to perfectly time an IPO; last-minute delays are common. There will be more clarity as the financial event grows closer, but a runway of 9-12 months is a good starting point.
Hint at Debut
Once all stakeholders agree on the IPO direction, hinting at the financial markets is the next step. Hiring a CFO with public company experience is a tell-tale sign – any financial reporter worth their salt knows what the company is signaling with that move. Companies preparing for an IPO should also increase media and analyst activities to build brand awareness among key audiences. Transparency and an increased media presence are musts. Ahead of Uber’s IPO, the team was in the habit of issuing earnings-like statements each quarter.
Stress-Test Your CEO
To further ensure company leaders can handle the media scrutiny, stress-test your CEO well before the big day. Revisit media training with key spokespeople and break out the video camera to record practice interviews. Practice responses to expected questions on financials and company growth. Now is the time to ensure your elevator pitch resonates with the everyday consumer – not just investors.
After a round of media training, take that practice on the road and schedule interviews with NASDAQ, NYSE, broadcast and other top-tier business outlets to position the company in front of future shareholders.
Ramp Up Announcements
During the buildup to an IPO, the external communications team needs to develop the right mix of company announcements. The trick to successfully navigating this period is to avoid making forward-looking statements. The SEC frowns upon making promises or projections that could mislead investors.
It’s also important to coordinate with your product team on the road map. Product announcements are important to investors, especially if those product debuts could lead to increased revenue for the company. Other safe announcements include new hires, like the CFO hire mentioned earlier, office openings, important partnerships, global expansions and case studies demonstrating customer success and retention.
Monitor the Market
Media research and competitor monitoring are crucial to an IPO’s success. Our agency has pulled together research on every major SaaS IPO over a five-year period to identify trends and marketing strategies.
While each IPO has its unique characteristics, there are clear patterns to learn from, one being the recurring risks. Reporters are going to pour over the S-1 looking for pitfalls. Let’s not forget the lessons of Domo in 2018, which saw excessive criticism for its financials, reducing its value by 77% at the time of its debut.
When working with companies heading toward IPOs, we recommend establishing both aspirant and peer lists to track. We use Signal AI to closely monitor direct competitor activity, paying particular attention to similar announcements and other company moves.
Make Your Debut
Last comes debut day. The marketing teams at the stock exchanges provide a great deal of assistance to celebrate in-persons, including logos plastered on the trading floors, champagne brunches and the ceremonial bell-ringing ceremony. Marketing activations also provide an extra layer of excitement to the day. This is the time to let your event planning team shine and amplify their efforts across social media. Hopefully, by the close of business, there’s debut day pop and financial success to toast.
Years of hard work go into a successful IPO. The last 12 months are just the final sprint, but they’re a crucial time for marketing and PR teams to play an active role. Having the right partner to amplify coverage and build awareness is a necessity. We’re here to help.