distinguishes one shop from its peers? Every firm, whether a one-man operation
or a building full of consultants, should understand its strengths and be able
to articulate them verbally and in writing to prospective and current
Marketing oneself may seem an easy task. In reality, understanding what
distinguishes a firm from its competitors and being able to express concisely
the unique attributes it brings to the table can be a challenge. It often
hinders a firm’s ability to find and take advantage of opportunities to sell
By following some simple guidelines, an individual practitioner or a firm
can build a foundation to market itself with ease and confidence with the
long-term goal of developing and nurturing new business
Assuming that a firm has identified its strengths
and the key attributes that make it the better choice, the next—and by far, the more
difficult—question becomes how to present the advantages of the firm to its key audience.
It must create a solid platform from which its practitioners can speak easily
about the firm and its accomplishments, regardless of whether the setting is a
client meeting, a luncheon for business leaders in the community, or a golf
course. To build such a platform, one must be armed with the proper tools.
Developing Core Tools
Well-crafted marketing tools help differentiate an individual or firm
from the increasingly crowded field of experts, consultants, and restructuring
professionals in business today. These tools are intended to provide the target
audience with a snapshot of the firm’s or individual’s expertise, its approach
to problem solving, the caliber of work provided, and previous experience. To do
Mission Statement/Create a Vision.
The mission statement/vision
should be a consistent message that can be used for all audiences to aid in
creating a more recognizable brand and facilitate unified communications. A
good mission statement should accurately explain why an organization exists
and what it hopes to achieve in the future.
All professionals should have a detailed
biography that includes a recent case study. This is their opportunity to put
their best foot forward and showcase their recent work. Individuals should
focus on their role and its impact on the successful outcome of the case. The
case studies do not necessarily have to be different cases. Often it takes the
collective strengths of a group to negotiate a successful outcome.
should not be afraid to call attention to what each individual contributed to
make a particular case successful.
One should consider carefully which
case studies to include. Perhaps, an individual was one of the many
restructuring professionals involved in the Enron case, a very large
restructuring that certainly received a great deal of national media
attention. But quite possibly, it’s that smaller case the professional worked
on that will make a stronger impression on a prospective client. Perhaps an
individual was retained by an equity committee that, despite all odds,
successfully retained an ownership stake in the company upon emergence.
If there was significant media
coverage of a case and the professional was referenced in one or more
articles, reprints should be included in the individual’s presentation
A firm should identify one or more
individuals best positioned to speak on firm strategy and the “big picture.”
The person selected not only should be personable, but also should be able to
explain complex concepts in simple terms. Key players should be designated as
appropriate spokespersons for different practice areas.
Taking It to the
this groundwork has been completed, the next step is to define what the
communications should accomplish. Are they primarily to be used to secure new
clients or reignite interest from previous clients? Is the goal to position the
firm as financial experts in the retail arena? It’s time to identify the target
audience and develop a strategy for disseminating information and services to
Practitioners often overlook the media when searching for networking
opportunities. Often, their relationship with media is reactive. But it’s time
to change that. One should view the large number of daily publications, business
journals, and trade magazines as opportunities to reach large groups at the same
time. Professionals should take time to meet local, trade, and national business
reporters and offer themselves or their colleagues as sources or experts to
provide background and information on stories these media outlets are
An expert source is not limited to commenting on a current case. One
should think outside the normal parameters of activities. Also, turnaround
professionals should keep in mind the different needs of varying publications.
Large national newspapers, such as
The Wall Street Journal,
The New York Times,
seek experts on general business trends that have
national or perhaps global impact. Using the automotive industry as an example,
a practitioner should think about relating his or her experience of working with
a second-tier automotive supplier in an out-of-court restructuring to the larger
manufacturing trends in the United States and other industrialized
Local newspapers, such as
The Dallas Morning
News, The Baltimore Sun,
interested in larger stories, but they also need a local angle. They want to tie
larger business trends to their local communities.
Finally, trade publications, such as
The Deal, Debtwire,
interested in specific details of a restructuring, loan facility, or merger. A
turnaround professional’s expertise in these areas could be helpful to a
reporter looking to expand a story. A relationship with a reporter is a
long-term commitment but can be well worth the time and effort.
In addition to the media, a number of other opportunities for exposure
are available that restructuring professionals and their firms should take
The Rotary Club, the Lions Club, private
clubs, and many associations are in constant need of speakers to fill their
calendars. With the national implications many cases currently have, a
breakfast or luncheon discussion about the “state of the auto industry and
what it means in the big picture” may be just the topic such an association is
One should also check with local
law schools, universities, or business schools to offer expertise as a
lecturer, adjunct professor, or author of special curriculum for business
A firm or individual also should actively seek
speaking and panel positions at well-attended meetings. Most meeting agendas
are scheduled well in advance, so one should volunteer early to help educate
fellow restructuring professionals. For additional exposure, a speaker should
consider inviting reporters who are interested in the subject matter.
Bylines of a
firm’s consultants on op-ed newspaper articles can help to position the firm
as an industry trend expert in business and the law. Articles provided to
trade publication serve the same purpose. Both can be used in presentation
packages for potential clients.
Seizing the Moment
Marketing and media relations are primarily about seizing opportunities
when they present themselves. Many large firms market themselves by sponsoring
events, buying advertisements, and participating in branded giveaways. Many
smaller firms don’t have marketing budgets that allow them to participate at
this level. In that case, a firm must create its own momentum by being creative
and showing perseverance.
Raising the profile of an individual or firm does not happen overnight.
But armed with the proper tools, a platform to launch dialogue, and the
willingness to devote the necessary time, one is on the road to achieving that
goal. Individuals and firms do best when they concentrate on their expertise,
experience, and execution capability. To be successful in a competitive
marketplace, professionals must convince clients that they are among the very
few to turn to with complex and critical