Family offices stepping up PR and marketing efforts, says new study

Family tree

A new study by BackBay Communications has found that while family offices remain more discreet in their public-facing activities than traditional asset management firms, many leading family offices have begun to leverage marketing and public relations to create differentiation and build awareness in support of their investment and impact objectives.

The study assessing the external marketing and communications efforts of family offices was conducted by BackBay Communications, a financial services-focused public relations, content development, digital marketing, and branding agency.

Of the leading 20 family offices analysed in the study, “Family Offices Tiptoe into the Spotlight,” BackBay found that:

• More than half, 55 per cent, have launched websites

• More than two-thirds, or 70 per cent, have used either third-party public relations firms or hired PR representatives in-house

• And 75 per cent produce content (such as thought leadership in the form of white papers and other insights) regularly

“Anecdotally, we’ve seen an uptick in the number of inbound inquiries from family office clients,” says BackBay Founder and CEO Bill Haynes. “This research helps to confirm our observations that family offices are indeed more interested in marketing than in past eras and they recognize that honing their brand messages, and sharing them to key stakeholders via their website, thought leadership content, and public relations can be effective ways to inform and strengthen ties with key stakeholders.”

Beyond highlighting best practices employed by the most influential family offices, the study also explores the drivers behind the segment’s new appreciation for public relations, particularly for a community that has historically sought to avoid public exposure.

For instance, many family offices have sought to disintermediate certain investment strategies, and are often competing directly against private equity firms for new deals. In this case, PR can help deal sources understand the unique appetite of family offices, while conveying key differentiators that can position the family office as a preferred buyer of certain assets. Alternatively, many family offices have also been among the earliest supporters and advocates of impact strategies, and are now leveraging PR to use their influence as investors and help shape the public discourse around causes important to them, the research found.

“In many ways, the marketing efforts of family offices are on the same maturation curve as private equity 15 years earlier,” says Ken MacFadyen, Senior Vice President and Head of Content Development at BackBay Communications. “They used to perceive marketing as a risk, but websites and content are allowing family offices to test the waters and share their narrative in a controlled and measured way.”