PR tips for pre-IPO tech startups

Mary Jenkins
PR tips for pre-IPO tech startups

With recent news of Snowflake’s record-breaking IPO, more tech startups are considering an IPO for their company. We put together 10 general pointers to help startups prepare an IPO communications strategy for the demanding process.

Don’t jump the gun

As a general rule of thumb, if an IPO is planned 6-9 months out, then start planning for the communications component at the same time.

Planning session

When an IPO becomes more than just an idea, schedule a planning session with the key executives and legal to review the stricter communications guidelines that must be followed as the IPO approaches.

Establish major themes

Give yourself time to build up to the announcement, and begin beating the drum about your greatest accomplishments and market differentiators to build to a crescendo with a major pre-IPO announcement.

Announcement cadence

Establish a cadence of company releases and stick with the cadence well in advance of the IPO. The SEC may see a sudden increased cadence of announcements as an attempt to influence a company’s valuation and ask for the company to delay its IPO.

Have collateral

You have to prepare months in advance for your IPO, and that includes developing collateral such as fact sheets, corporate presentations, management videos, web pages, and internal/external Q&A.

Seed the financial story

There will come a time when you have to begin sharing the financial story of the tech startup. That could be a combination of fundraising news, market share growth, M&A activity, and even C-Suite hires.

Build relationships

Spend more time building relationships with influential business and technology journalists who could positively (or negatively) impact the reception of an IPO.

White paper or study

4 to 6 months before the planned IPO, commission a high-level white paper or study that defines the broader addressable market, its general trends, and the company’s role in that market.That way you have something of substance for analysts, investors, and media speaking to the market.

Listing day

Connect with the appropriate parties in the NASDAQ to determine what you can do to celebrate the big day. Much like a major brand activation, the listing day should include speeches from company execs, a party attended by key employees and customers, social media posts with plenty of videos, and more.

Investor relations

In Q1 after IPO your company is public, so how were the financial results from Q1? What’s more, how well will the executive team — usually the CEO and CFO — manage the conference calls? Setting up a successful investor relations program will ensure that all of this happens without any undue stress on executives or the analysts covering your company.

Final thoughts

An IPO is not just about investors and the media. Employees, vendors, partners, and customers are all important stakeholders in the run-up to the IPO. Don’t forget to devote planning and resources toward messages aimed at these important ‘internal’ audiences, not only assuring them business will continue as usual but also that they are all playing a vital role in the company’s future.

About Mary Jenkins: Mary is a marketing and communications intern for Swyft, which is a PR firm in Austin and Houston and a top digital marketing agency in Denver since its founding in 2011. Swyft recently opened a satellite office where it offers PR in San Francisco.

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