Though stronger than last year, almost six months into the year and the U.S. IPO market has been nothing to write home about.
Yesterday, Zipcar -- the Cambridge, Mass.-based car-sharing service company -- became only the 108th U.S. company to file an S-1 in 2010. Although the active IPO pipeline boasts 153 companies, it includes companies who have filed registrations or amendments with the SEC in the last two years, according to Renaissance Capital, an independent provider of IPO research. Another 18 companies recently withdrew or postponed their IPO vs. six companies who did the same by this date one year ago, also according to Renaissance.
As of this posting, Zipcar is the only U.S. company in the month of June to have registered for an IPO. Of course, it's only June 2 so there's still plenty of time for other companies to follow suit before the next round of holiday cook outs after which time the U.S. IPO market will likely take a summer hiatus.
Filing an S-1 prior to the kick off the summer holiday fun is actually a great strategy because the mandatory "quiet period" is easier to uphold during the summer season than during other "busier" times of the year. Perhaps it's what the communications strategists at Zipcar had in mind.
So with Zipcar's filing as a back drop, here are five things corporate communications executives must be aware of pre- and post-IPO:
- Evaluate the company's communications capabilities. Diverse skill sets and deep experience in navigating the pre - and post-IPO waters are required and differ greatly from the needs of a private company.
- From the moment a company whispers a plan to file for an IPO, new rules and expectations on how it communicates kick in. The cost of noncompliance with quite periods and other restrictions, including Regulation Fair Disclosure and Sarbanes-Oxley, could break a company's back. Communicators must be able to build company awareness while playing within the lines.
- Adopt a communications approach that addresses all stakeholders and encompasses all pertinent communications disciplines.
- Function as strategic counselors to management; help them understand what "safe" media activity is inside of pre- and post-IPO quiet periods.
- Train company employees on the behavioral changes and expectations within a pre-IPO and newly public company. A fully-informed employee is typically more motivated to put the needs of the company before the needs of the individual.