New research from financial services PR and integrated marketing firm BackBay Communications reveals that more than six out of every 10 (63 percent) of the top 100 global private equity firms are producing content regularly, though at varying degrees of sophistication and frequency.
The results reflect growing recognition of the importance of thought leadership to demonstrate and clearly articulate a firm’s unique value proposition to multiple audiences and constituencies in a competitive market.
The study showed that among those private equity firms that produce content, most favor video (71 percent), as well as market commentaries, byline articles, and case studies (70 percent) as their mediums of choice. This marks notable traction for an industry that has historically shied away from overt promotional activities.
However, in contrasting the findings with earlier research on the larger asset management industry, PE firms in this study produced content far less frequently than the largest asset managers, with less than half of the content producers publishing new pieces on even a quarterly basis (49 percent). In BackBay’s 2017 study looking at the broader asset management universe, 77 percent published new thought leadership on a monthly or weekly cadence.
“The results of our study show the tide is turning for private equity as it relates to their communication strategy,” said Bill Haynes, BackBay president and CEO, in a news release. “As competition increases, private equity firms are seeking ways to stand out from the crowd. Underscoring their firm’s expertise through writing thought leadership articles and shooting videos helps private equity firms stay top of mind, which can ultimately help them raise capital, source investments, and attract talent. With the largest industry players leading the way, content and social media are proving to be important levers to articulate and showcase an organization’s approach, focus and expertise.”
Among the highlights from the study:
Of those that regularly produce thought leadership, nearly 40 percent are utilizing three or more mediums and content types.
- While about half (49 percent) are producing content on a quarterly basis, only 24 percent are publishing new pieces monthly or weekly compared to 77 percent of asset managers.
- Anecdotally, many firms amplify their content marketing efforts by leveraging existing thought leadership—such as Investor Relations materials—to extend the shelf life and frequency of content published.
The report also shares best practices for creating and sharing content, as well as strategies to bridge investor relations activities to thought leadership and public relations goals.
“In many ways, PE firms’ approach to content reflects the role of the asset class as ‘patient capital’; there is also less of a need to produce thought leadership as frequently as asset managers that cater to a retail audience,” said Ken MacFadyen, head of content development at BackBay, in the release.
“But the growing adoption of content marketing in PE reflects the need to be more transparent and help both limited partners and business owners understand and appreciate the value proposition a firm offers.”
To conduct the study, BackBay Communications used the 100 firms ranked in Private Equity International’s PEI 300 report. Through analyzing what is publicly available on firm websites and through social media, we were able to quantify how many of the largest private equity firms produce content regularly, the types of content being created across various channels, and the frequency at which firms are publishing new content. We also tracked the social media adoption of the top 100 private equity firms, and then cut the data to identify best practices across the industry.