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Public relations has traditionally struggled with measuring its own success. The impact earned media coverage, thought leadership campaigns, executive positioning, paid advertising and other facets of the umbrella term “PR” have on a company’s business objectives have historically come in the form of inflated impression numbers, advertising equivalency (AVE) and unique visitors per month.


Public relations’ impact has traditionally been hard to measure. When it’s working, though, the telltale signs are strong.


So you’ve built your company, growing it with care. Now, you’re starting to think about how to make it even more attractive for a lucrative acquisition. The No. 1 thing to know: It takes time.


Many companies positioning for an IPO don’t have a seasoned professional in their marketing or PR departments who has been through the process before. In such cases, the lack of “been there, done that” necessitates an external partner from which your internal department can learn while keeping all channels between your legal department, CEO, CFO and other executives open. This group especially will be spending a lot of quality time together—from initial planning and kickoff meetings to ringing the bell on the stock exchange—so it’s imperative that all parties are aware of what each is doing. No “Left hand, right hand” nonsense here!


Red Fan specializes in helping organizations at three critical points in the business life cycle: launch, growth and exit. Our clients are startups preparing to introduce their works of genius to the world (not to mention funders), established businesses eager to build brand visibility and accelerate growth, and companies gearing up for a merger, acquisition or an IPO.


Do yourself (and your investors) a favor and don’t be that guy or gal. I’m talking about the founder or CEO who assumes his or her latest accomplishment—no matter how small—is newsworthy. Trust me when I tell you that no one, and I mean no one, loves your company as much as you do. At least not yet.


Every week, I talk with angel investors and venture capitalists in Austin and beyond, and often I ask what common mistakes they see startups make during a pitch. Most are quick to reply that as potential investors, they are most wary if a company does not offer an exit strategy. Specifically, a plan for growing and becoming so desirable it can eventually either be acquired by another company or successfully go public.


A cohesive public relations strategy is an essential part of any company’s success, whether you’re announcing funding, scaling your employee or customer base or looking to make an acquisition or go public. Maintaining a positive reputation, creating meaningful relationships with key stakeholders and increasing customer engagement are all key to thriving in the business world, and PR has an important role to play in all of them.


Last week, I attended an event called “Raising Capital: The Art of the Deal,” sponsored by Bank SNB and the Austin Chamber of Commerce. The event’s keynote speaker was businessman and entrepreneur Joel Trammell, who has shepherded several companies through various funding rounds, beginning with his startup Prodigy all the way up to Khorus, his current software management firm.


There’s hardly a day we don’t talk about influencers under the Helms House roof, whether it’s a potential new partner chatting with us about what they’re looking for in a PR agency or with the post office worker who has seen us mailing out the same product once a week for the past month (yes, this really happens).


There’s a mantra you’ll hear the Red Fan team say when describing our clients: “We work with good people and brands we believe in.” This isn’t just a feel-good saying, it directs every partnership we make. Working with like-minded companies provides natural synergy that makes relationships last.


It doesn’t matter what stage your business is in: Maybe you just launched. Maybe you’ve just experienced a growth spurt or maybe you’re getting primed to sell­—if you’re reading this blog post, you’ve likely determined that your company has a story to tell. This is an exciting time, to be sure, but a question that we find comes up quite a bit—no matter which stage you’re in—is whether a company should build an internal PR team or hire an outside agency. Well, we can certainly help. While we are a PR agency, we can still offer some unbiased advice.

good news is coming

The age-old debate on press release distribution is akin to the schism between political party lines. Some marketing professionals sit in Camp Release-it-All, whereas others set up shop in Strategyville. Bottomline: the press release is a foundational PR tool that can’t be ignored by companies large or small. The dissemination of said release, though, should be a careful conversation mapped to business goals, budgets and media relations intentions.


Companies scale at different speeds. There’s no magical template every company can follow religiously that leads them to the promised land of billion-dollar valuations, a massive buyout or the most successful IPO on the New York Stock Exchange in a decade.

Heart of Business Summit

We take great pride in our hometown of Austin, Texas. The community is unlike any other and giving back is in our DNA. It was only natural for us to become partners with Austin Gives in 2013. We surround ourselves with like-minded companies to strengthen each other with direct results to our community. This year, Austin Gives launched The Heart of Business Summit for HR directors, marketing and communications teams, nonprofit leaders and CEOs to learn about the changing landscape of business and the need for community engagement in your business model.

book event.jpg

Through the years, Red Fan has hosted quite a few exclusive events at the Helms House, including a private visit with Guy Kawasaki, Apple veteran and currently brand ambassador for Canva and—more recently—with Samantha Ettus, author of “The Pie Life.” This week, we enjoyed an evening with our friend Olga Campos Benz for a reading and discussion with business and fellow PR leaders of her new book, “It’s News To Me.”

Paul Holmes

By most standards, there’s a lot happening in the world of public relations and communications right now: an unconventional American presidency, high-profile cases of successful (and botched) brand activism, the proliferation of fake news and an ever-evolving list of hot trends that public relations professionals and their clients need to know about.

Spring Fling-Magic Carpet Ride

We have a diverse group of clients here at Red Fan Communications. We’re by no means a niche firm, and that’s how we like it. We’ve worked in almost every industry and we aim to make each experience unique for our clients. Having a diverse portfolio means our clients don’t compete with each other, and when we have an event, they can meet people who don’t share the same business focus or have different networks of contacts throughout Austin and beyond. This gives them a new perspective and insight that they may not have otherwise. Getting our clients together fortifies their perception of us as an agency that we do have a great network that resonates far beyond our clientele.

Capitalizing on trends

Taking a critical look at your brand’s tone can be tough. What would you do if one day, someone approaches you inside or outside of your organization and says, “Hey, this just isn’t working for the company.” Hearing those words can feel like someone has personally insulted you and your whole family, when in truth, it's the dose of reality your brand has been needing.


If you’re following the Red Fan blog, you may recently have read our observations about the importance of a company’s hiring process and how crucial it is to embrace the right mindset for building a communications team.


People in business like to say you can never have too many great ideas. That’s a wonderful aspiration when you’re brainstorming. Not as wonderful if you’re attempting to attract investors, partners and quality employees. When those stakeholders examine your company and deliberate on whether they should sign on, they don’t want to be dazzled by scattershot brilliance that’s all over the map. They want proof that your business and brand are secure and that you, as an executive, possess clear, specific ideas that project stability and that align with a cohesive business strategy and tangible, achievable goals.

Hiring the wrong people

As of the date of this writing, I have crafted and delivered offer letters to nine of our 10 team members at Red Fan. Most of our team has been here for more than two years (some many more), and I’m constantly in awe of how our team works together nearly flawlessly given their varying backgrounds, personality styles, strengths and length of time separating their hires.

Social media presence

So you really don’t have the funds to go gangbusters on social media marketing, but you recognize the importance of having a unique presence on social media. Maybe you’re trying to sell a brand new product or attract more patrons to your restaurant—even B2B businesses can benefit from a great social media presence by attracting like-minded companies to work with, as well as new employees.

Is taking a stance right for your business?

Brands taking stances on sociopolitical issues is a relatively new trend that has been accelerating steadily in the last few months. Since Donald Trump took office, we’ve seen a few prime examples of corporations speaking out for or against political issues.


In a past interview, Jackie Kennedy Onassis was praised for her intimate ability as a conversationalist that instantly resonated with her hosts, friends and acquaintances. After a journalist mentioned her charismatic rapport, she laughed her famous breathless laugh and responded, “I never really talk to people. I really enjoy just listening to what they have to say.”


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