Many companies positioning for an IPO don’t have a seasoned professional in their marketing or PR departments who has been through the process before. In such cases, the lack of “been there, done that” necessitates an external partner from which your internal department can learn while keeping all channels between your legal department, CEO, CFO and other executives open. This group especially will be spending a lot of quality time together—from initial planning and kickoff meetings to ringing the bell on the stock exchange—so it’s imperative that all parties are aware of what each is doing. No “Left hand, right hand” nonsense here!
The PR professional in any company looking to take that leap faces tremendous pressure to ensure the organization is following the IPO communications rules of the road. That starts with coordinating with Legal and the C-suite on messaging tone and visibility around the IPO itself and continues until well after the process has been completed.
It’s also crucial to realize that no two IPOs are the same. I once had a fresh-out-of-the-gate marketing director insist on high-profile interviews on the day of the IPO, which external legal counsel quickly rebuffed. Needless to say, the marketing executive was quickly told that a B2B IPO in a conservative industry operates under very different circumstances than, for instance, the Twitter IPO. Knowing the target audiences and understanding how they respond is essential, and underscores the need for an experienced PR team.
After all, one slipup or overstep in the communications arena can risk the success of an IPO before it even begins. With that in mind, there are some very clear rules of the road that need to be established early on.