A different ball game
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Clear and consistent communications are vital to securing growth for AIM-listed companies, Threadneedle's Graham Herring explains why.
Clear and consistent communications are vital to securing growth for AIM-listed companies. In 2010, the junior market saw 42 admissions, up substantially on the previous year when only 18 companies joined the market.
Every single one of these firms will have needed to develop a clear communications strategy.
Graham Herring, managing director of Threadneedle Communications (pictured), argues that the PR landscape is different post- credit crunch: ‘Whereas before it was just about whether they could get a few column inches, since the downturn companies are now looking much more at the level and quality of the financial PR they are receiving.’
UK-wide private client broker (PCB) roadshows are one way that they are providing clients with a programme for accessing investors. ‘While many PR companies claim to offer PCB programmes, our experience shows that these tend to be either scattergun approaches or repetitive meetings with the same handful of London- based individuals,’ Herring explains.
‘Threadneedle Investor Reach has built its success through strong relationships with serious investors around the country, targeting the right investors for the right clients and maintaining dialogue throughout.’
Threadneedle Communications recently received the Financial PR Company of the Year award at the annual Growth Company Awards, an accolade that Herring believes is testament to how ‘we have developed an understanding of what companies need’.
By bringing together a number of experienced brokers, journalists and financial communications professionals who have advised companies of all sizes, Herring says that they now have the team in place to promote AIM companies and provide investor relations in the right way.
Herring suggests that, whereas in bygone eras financial PR was more about knowing how to operate a fax machine, companies today are often coming to PR consultants at a far earlier stage as they look to find more integrated approaches to communication. He believes that the demands on financial PR companies are much broader than they used to be, with wider market knowledge essential in staying ahead of the game.
Herring tailors the services that he offers to each individual client. ‘No two companies are the same in what they are looking for; you can’t apply the same set of rules across the board,’ he explains.
NOMAD VS PR
Herring also believes that the landscape has changed for nominated advisers (nomads): ‘The regulatory environment has changed dramatically – certain nomads are afraid to sneeze now.’ While aware that it is not licensed to impart financial advice, Threadneedle has a different, more flexible, relationship with its listed clients from that a nomad would, and Herring believes the firm is in a good position to assist listed companies in this risk-dominated environment.
‘Companies are using us as a sounding board, using our experience and knowledge. We cannot do the job of a nomad, but our clients tend to seek our advice in advance of any announcements,’ he explains.
FUTURE FOR AIM
Herring is optimistic about a resurgence for AIM but feels that it will never return to the heady heights pre-credit crisis: ‘It’s much more a case of having a proven track record and a compelling story going forward; the era of raising money for any tenuous pipe dream has very much gone.’
However, Herring still believes that the AIM market remains the most exciting of the London markets and where financial PR can make a real difference. He says, ‘There are some excellent companies out there with genuine growth opportunities.’
In 2010 Threadneedle was involved in seven of the 42 admissions to AIM. Herring explains, ‘We saw a bit more of a resurgence towards the end of the year, as companies waited for more clarity and transparency in the market. This has trickled over into the new year but I think it will be a similar case in 2011, with most of the activity coming towards the second half of the year.’