(At Least) A Dozen Reasons for Hedge Funds and PE Firms to Implement a PR Program
Funds are finally embracing PR & marketing— and that’s good for investors and managers alike
With markets and media rapidly changing, PR and reputation management for hedge fund and PE firm managers is more important than ever before.
While large funds have recognized this for some time, it has now become especially true for small-to-mid-sized managers and those launching first-time funds, which have a tough challenge competing with better-established funds.
No More ‘Flying Below the Radar’
For years, most managers were able to “fly below the radar,” or ignore the media completely by falling back on that standard line: “no comment.” But the rules of the game have changed. If you don’t search out the media, eventually the media will find you. You can thank the internet, electronic filings and reporters’ “inside” sources and for that! Leaks to reporters are everywhere, as we know so well from political reporting.
Just as importantly, in today’s hyper-connected, digital world, the first thing most investors do is Google the name of the fund vying for their money. Investors also generally do an online search for the fund’s key PMs.
If a fund—or any of its key PMs—is associated with even one or two negative story links on page one of Google, it could likely lead the prospective investor to rule out that fund as an investment option and move on to the next equally qualified, less reputationally challenged manager. Moreover, investors are highly sensitive to “headline risk.” If investors see negative articles on one of the funds to which they have allotted capital, this can result in redemptions, as well as years of heartache for managers, who soon learn how incredibly difficult it is to remove those story links from page one of Google.
Today, everyone has the tools at their disposal to be a storyteller and publish their thoughts online. If you don’t tell your story, someone else probably will. This is why a well-crafted, strategic PR program is no longer a “nice-to-have.” It is an essential tool for creating and maintaining a positive image, differentiating fund managers from their competition, supporting fund raising and deal making efforts, and building a sustainable business for the long-term.
Twelve Reasons: ‘Why Public Relations?’
A PR agency that is experienced in and knowledgeable about the alternative investment sector can be invaluable in helping fund managers mount effective communications campaigns. As a result, quality managers will gain (at least) these twelve key benefits from a well-managed campaign:
1. Positive, ongoing media coverage that creates and maintains a positive brand image—as well as constructive relationships with influential reporters.
2. A “clean” online web presence—especially on page one and two of Google.
3. Clear and concise messaging that the media and investors (who are often not professional investors) can easily understand.
4. Communications support for important deals, transactions and strategic investments.
5. Crisis communications to provide support after bad news breaks, prevent a PR crisis from ever happening, as well as a put plan in place if a crisis was to hit (including allegations of sexual misconduct and key personnel departures).
6. Well-written content and marketing collateral, such as: fund fact sheets, investor letters, and op-eds that often are printed in well-read, prestigious media outlets.
7. Presentation coaching, which is invaluable for pitch meetings and investor calls. No matter how experienced PMs are at pitching their book, there is always room for improvement.
8. Better communications with key third parties, such as counter-parties, regulators and consultants, as well as with employees.
9. The placement of PMs at quality conference and speaking engagements.
10. An elegantly designed website with well-written copy.
11. Cleanly designed, yet not-overly-complex investor presentation decks.
12. Implementation of scripted and rehearsed investor calls.
Given the need for managers to distinguish their funds in an increasingly crowded and noisy marketplace—along with the challenges of communicating effectively and maintaining a sound reputation in an environment of 24/7 media—alternative managers should seriously consider professionally run, comprehensive and proactive public relations strategies