Now is an exciting time for SaaS companies across all industries: fundraising is hot, IPOs are booming and the opportunities for growth are unprecedented. With so many paths to choose from, we’re at a pivotal moment in the tech industry.
For those looking toward an IPO, putting support in place to assist with investor relations (IR) is likely top of the to-do list. Historically, companies may have saved this task to just before an IPO — some even going public with no IR plan in place. However, today, SaaS companies often involve IR teams earlier in the process, as soon as they’ve determined that an IPO is the best option.
While IR and PR sound similar, adding IR to the mix doesn’t mean it’s time to drop your PR team or downplay their efforts. (In fact, it might actually mean the opposite.) Let’s take a look at the difference between IR and PR — and why, if you’re on the path to an IPO, you need both.
The difference between IR and PR
National Investor Relations Institute defines investor relations as “a strategic management responsibility that integrates finance, communication, marketing and securities law compliance to enable the most effective two-way communication between a company, the financial community, and other constituencies, which ultimately contributes to a company’s securities achieving fair valuation.”
While a few global PR agencies may have an internal IR team, most PR agencies are not equipped with knowledge of the financial and securities laws, which falls under the specialty of an IR firm. With both marketing and communication listed in the IR definition, however, it’s easy to blur the lines between IR and PR. While both disciplines stress the importance of consistent and effective communication and look to influence investors, the strategies and tactics implemented by each differ in the months leading up to an IPO. For example, IR might focus on working with the general counsel in developing a disclosure policy, whereas a PR team might execute a thought leadership campaign in the media to show executive expertise in the space.
Investing in PR ahead of a SaaS IPO
Many SaaS brands looking to IPO already have a PR strategy in place before engaging an IR firm or otherwise enlisting help with investor relations. These brands understand how PR can support factors that contribute to the perception of IPO readiness, including category creation, brand awareness and positioning.
If you are at least 6-12 months from filing your S-1 and without a consistent PR strategy in place, engaging with IR might be a good signal that it’s time to engage a PR partner as well. Be mindful to establish a consistent PR presence well ahead of the quiet period, as the SEC will take note of any new or aggressive changes in PR strategy once you enter that period. Not only are investors one of the four pillars of SaaS PR, but establishing a consistent PR strategy — including interviews with the media and other thought leadership — well ahead of filing, can lead to a more productive quiet period.
If an IPO is on the horizon, BLASTmedia — the only B2B SaaS PR agency — can play a pivotal role in your strategy. Or, if you’re simply looking to learn more, come say hello!