Most clients engage in public relations to gain increased brand exposure with the aim of winning new business and boosting their standing with existing clients or customers. Many also understand its value in terms of the management of potential crises.
There is, however, another compelling reason for smaller and mid-market firms to build strong media profiles. One day their owners will probably want to sell their shareholdings, to attract investment or to grow by purchasing other businesses.
Many M&A transactions are reliant on corporate financiers and brokers acting as matchmakers, scoping out the market to put potential acquisition targets together with likely buyers. Building a profile in the business media and your relevant trade press can fast-track your way onto their radars.
A good broker or corporate financier, backed by a strong legal team, will often be able to achieve a better valuation for your business than you could negotiate by yourself so working with them should never be discounted. However, there have been recent reports that consolidators in the financial services sector, at least, are baulking at the fees charged by intermediaries to arrange smaller transactions, and are overlooking smaller companies in favour of larger, more cost-effective, acquisitions.
Firms that fall into this smaller bracket can make themselves directly known to, and understood by, potential buyers by establishing a profile in the press. This may result in direct approaches (though, in these cases, most business owners would be well-advised to be, er, well-advised and seek a professional opinion regarding their valuation).
Another advantage to building your reputation in the media is that it contributes to the “goodwill” that vests in your brand, an intangible asset that could increase the value your business achieves when you walk off into the sunset.
If, meanwhile, you plan to grow by acquisition then building a reputation in your sector by engaging with your trade press means potential acquisition targets are more likely to take your overtures seriously. You are also more likely to be approached with acquisition opportunities.
PR is, of course, about winning new business. But there is so much more to it than that.