5 things GPs should know before talking to the press

In these gloomy times, those with good news may want to shout it from the rooftops. But make sure you keep these principles in mind when shaping your discussions with the media, writes Nicholas Mead of The Sentient Group.

There is an internal contradiction in the nature of private equity and the media. The former, by its very name, has a natural inclination to not disburse detailed information about its operations, whilst the latter’s raison d’être is to disburse information to a large audience. However, the lure of self promotion for a private equity firm is a temptation few can resist, especially in light of a recent close, a fantastic new investment or an even more fantastic realisation.

So in the event that you, the private equity GP, have succumbed to the lure of the opportunity to tell the world, via the press, about what you have done, here is a list of just a few things you should consider before diving into the pool of temptation.

  1. Know your message As simple as it sounds, whoever from your firm is talking to the press needs to know what the message is that you want to convey. Sticking to that message will ensure clarity and lower the risk of being sidetracked.
  2. Understand the audience Having a good idea of who will be the receiving the message is important, as you can then tailor your message appropriately. There’s no point waxing lyrical about the wonderful new technology you have implemented at a new investment when the audience of the article is a local paper where workers have been laid off because of that wonderful new technology.
  3. Don’t get bogged down in detail Following on from the two points above, keep your message as high level as possible when explaining your message. Unless you are talking the to industry rag related to that wonderful new technology you’ve just implemented, the audience will most likely have little interest or understanding of the minutiae of your discussion points.
  4. Some information is private Don’t forget that there is some information related to your business that is private and should not be discussed to the press. Financials, market sensitive information, specific strategic intent about implementing a wonderful new technology, or even who are your own investors are amongst many things that should not be made public more often than not. Revert back to knowing what your message is and stick to it.
  5. Be positive Recent months have been a bit gloomy and not everyone has fared well, however, a positive message linked to your firm’s name improves your brand each time you put it out there. In virtually all scenarios, there is something positive to be told so find it, if it is not obvious, and push it in you message.

So there you have it – a few broad issues to consider when your firm is taking its message to the media. Journalists are a friendly lot and can help spread the good news about your activities. Manage it properly and you can improve your brand which can feed through to your firm’s ultimate goal of creating wealth for your investors.

Nicholas Mead is Investor Relations Director at The Sentient Group, a private equity investor in the global metal, mineral and energy sectors with US$1.3billion under management across three funds. He is based in Montreal, Canada.