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Private Equity Media Relations

In the digital age, companies are firmly in the spotlight and are expected to be transparent and engage with the press.

The press plays a significant role in how companies are perceived, through both traditional and social media. But what can media relations do for a Private Equity (PE) house? Building relationships with press can buy goodwill from journalists and ultimately favourable or at least balanced media coverage.

A robust media relations strategy can help PE houses to raise their profile, articulate their philosophy and in times of need protect their brand from reputational risks. Reputation matters - it affects staff, external stakeholders and impacts the bottom-line.

To understand how media relations can be used effectively by PE houses, it is worth considering whether PE investments are always welcomed. Think about an investment conducted by a PE house with a bad reputation and its impact on staff moral and its vendors. They can be seen as taking advantage of a firm rather than being a saviour, creating ill feeling towards PE investors.

For staff of the company being bought, a number of important questions will always present themselves. What will the new management structure really be like? What is my future under this structure? Is what I’ve heard/read true? Scepticism often surrounds MBOs and addressing these questions can be challenging.

By building a favourable media profile, PE houses can navigate these difficult questions, using the press as a third-party endorsement of the proposed business strategy. Building and leveraging relationships with the press to reinforce what a company stands for, showcasing its people and achievements can help support transactions. Conversely, failure to engage can create reputational challenges from ill-informed media.

Furthermore, media relations can increase the valuation of portfolio companies through building their brand equity and supporting their commercial goals.

Charles Ansdell, Redleaf PR