Haris Ahmed of Chicago Firm Pragmatium Consulting Inc. on PR for Publicly Listed Companies



Haris Ahmed, Chicago Consultant: PR for Publicly Listed Companies

Haris Ahmed of Chicago management consulting firm Pragmatium Consulting Group Inc. has been involved in numerous leading consultancy projects. His client list includes Allstate, the City of Chicago, United Airlines, Unilever, Pitney Bowes, the Internal Revenue Service, Schneider Electric, Johnson & Johnson, and Roosevelt University.

For many firms, the transition from being a privately held entity into a publicly traded one is a huge milestone. However, this may also present tremendous PR challenges, as publicly listed companies can face more public and media scrutiny. After all, they are now entities that are legally required to disclose any information that can impact business operations. Their books must be open as well, and on a quarterly basis at that. In this case, the PR challenges include maintaining or changing the company’s image throughout the transition while creating more visibility, and forging stronger relationships with stakeholders.

PR for Public Companies

It was once believed that going public is the pinnacle of business success. Many of the world’s most valuable companies have gone public, like Apple, Alphabet, and Microsoft. These companies are often thought of as too big to fail, but this may only seem so because they have great PR teams who work around the clock to get the best coverage for their products and services. Rather than reacting to trends, they anticipate and use these to their advantage. Thus, the PR needs of public companies can be said to be more sensitive than privately held firms.

As mentioned, publicly listed companies face increased regulatory scrutiny compared to privately held companies. Any PR professional worth his/her salt would not be afraid of this, and may even think of it as competitive advantage in building a more open and transparent image for the company. This is because investors, for example, will naturally do their research before buying a company’s stock. On the other hand, institutional funds will have a more rigorous screening process for investments. However you look at both scenarios, the PR team more than deserves a seat on the table, alongside the Investor Relations team, in coming up with communication strategies that will put the company in a favorable position.

PR for publicly listed companies is exciting, albeit challenging. There are press releases to be written, trade shows to attend, press conferences to organize, and events and awarding ceremonies to take part in – a PR professional that is kept out of the loop would miss out on numerous opportunities to get press coverage for the company. This is also why they should be involved with development and operations as much as their corporate officers will allow. As the company’s image makers, the PR team has the important responsibility of helping publicly listed companies answer to their shareholders, and all this would not be as smooth sailing if companies were to isolate their PR teams, relegating them to mere rank and file status.

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