Take the fear out of the unknown

The worst nightmare for an in-house communications professional is the "unknown." The best way to handle it is to deconstruct the challenges and clearly map out a plan for success.

The worst nightmare for an in-house communications professional is the “unknown.” The best way to handle it is to deconstruct the challenges and clearly map out a plan for success.

Using an IPO as an example, let's breakdown the plan into three phases to focus the team on specific milestones and ensure you remain on the right path.

Pre-IPO phase
Use this time to develop and refine your corporate story and supporting proof points, and build a public profile. Educate executives and comms team members that they must begin to shift from “Selling a Product” to “Selling Your Company's Story.” View Wall Street as a customer and your company as the product.

Audit your current situation and the resources you have at hand. Start building a list of contacts on Wall Street, wish-list contacts, as well as ones in media. As a public company you will open the door to a whole new group of journalists.

IPO
This daunting task will be made easier by the thorough planning done during the pre-IPO phase. The best way to maximize subscription to the IPO and a successful listing is through the delivery of a clearly honed investment message that articulates the “buy” rationale. During this stage, you will be in execution mode—delivering the message.

Post-IPO
Your ongoing financial comms program must focus on enhancing the company's shareholder base. Achieving and sustaining fair equity valuation is the key to keeping your investor base loyal. Aside from operational performance and meeting benchmarks set by the company, generating favorable research and press coverage will attract new investors. Wall Street will value your company on its performance, as well as management's credibility, so raising executives' visibility will be a part of this phase.

Planning is the key to success and to lifting the veil off the unknown.

Ryan Barr, SVP and director financial relations, Hill & Knowlton New York

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