The Big Pitch: How can you use a company’s prestige and brand to attract more capital?

HOWARD ZAR, Porter Novelli, New York

HOWARD ZAR, Porter Novelli, New York

HOWARD ZAR, Porter Novelli, New York

If you know you will need to raise capital in the public markets in the

future, start acting like a public-company CEO now. Surveys have shown

that a significant amount of a company’s reputation is directly linked

to the reputation of the CEO. Balance excitement about your business

with conservatism about your business model. Wall Street hates public

companies that set aggressive milestones and do not meet them. When

meeting with the press or VCs, make sure that publicly enunciated

milestones can be easily met. Also, when asked about your plans for

going public, shy away from telling people when and what a great

investment your company will be. You’ll sound far better saying that

your goal is to grow your company and that you’ll consider any financing

option that best furthers growth.

STEVE FRANKEL, Burson-Marsteller, New York

We are actively involved in making sure that influential financial and

industry analysts get to know our clients’ top management and understand

their story. Third-party endorsements like these are critical to

attracting support from VC firms, private equity firms and Wall Street

investment banks. One of our new clients recently announced its second

round of financing, and we included a quote in the release from Bill

Gurley of Benchmark Capital, an investor in this start-up. Gurley is a

major player in the VC community and Benchmark has invested in eBay, Red

Hat and other well-known Internet companies. His endorsement represents

additional credibility.

DON MIDDLEBERG, Middleberg & Associates, New York

A first step in building brand and attracting capital is clearly

defining your company’s business category, then defining your position

within the category. Are you an e-business systems consultant, a

financial marketplace?

What is your business model and unique selling proposition? What are the

business trends you can ’own’? Companies seeking to build brand must

consistently communicate their strategic positioning - with key messages

that differentiate the company from competitors - to all key

constituencies, from potential investors and securities analysts to

media, employees and key influencers (e.g. industry research


JIM BROWN, BergerBrown Communications, South Orange, NJ

Initiating and maintaining an ongoing dialogue with reporters can be

extremely valuable for a company and boost its long-term ability to

attract capital. Working with the media is an ideal, cost-effective way

of keeping the public informed about the health and growth of a

business. Having an executive who is frequently quoted as an expert can

add significant strength to an appeal for financial support when the

time arises. We also recommend that companies be up-front about

disappointing news and provide a detailed explanation of what went wrong

- or what failed to happen.

This also provides management with an opportunity to demonstrate how it

plans to correct a problem and let the public see how effectively the

company functions under pressure

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