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50 Most Admired Companies of The Year 2019

Fay Margo, Brackendale Consulting Ltd Founding CEO: ‘We’re a Specialized One-Stop Private Equity Marketing and Communications Shop Competing against PR Giants’

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“We pride ourselves on our flexibility, speed of delivery, and strive to attain perfection on each project we undertake.”

Managing a firm’s investor marketing or media relations isn’t as simple as it used to be. Investors are becoming increasingly demanding in terms of what information they wish to receive, and how they want receive it. The advent of social media means news is more immediate and far-reaching than ever before - having the wrong news out there could have a catastrophic effect on investor returns. Investor marketing, public relations and brand management are important tools by which companies inform, persuade, enlighten, teach, remind, and enrich the knowledge of their stakeholders. It’s worth getting it right: having a solid marketing or communications strategy in place can spell the difference between success or failure.

In light of the foregoing, we’re thrilled to present Brackendale Consulting Ltd.

Brackendale is a multilingual marketing and communications agency specializing in public relations and investor marketing support for private equity houses. The company produces visually compelling investor pitch books, newsletters, ESG reports, quarterly reports, and financial documents, with well-written and relevant content that is eye-catching for all the right reasons. It also designs quality websites, as well as carrying out company rebranding.

Brackendale was established in 2013 and is headquartered in London, in the UK.

In Conversation with Fay Margo, Brackendale Consulting Ltd Founding CEO

What was the reason behind the genesis of your company?

Brackendale was set up to address a real gap in the market. There are a lot of private equity houses out there trying to raise multi-million- or billion-dollar funds, which have the financial acumen to generate stellar returns, but many lack the creative flair or the communication skills that are so necessary to convince top institutions to invest in their fund. All too often, fund managers will spoil their investor pitch with a less-than-perfect presentation, written in clunky English with amateur graphics.

If you’re looking to raise serious capital, then you need to be producing professional and smart marketing materials, with succinct and engaging copy. Investors will judge fund managers on their pitch books, branding, and presentation skills because it’s often the first insight they have into the fund managers.

Similarly, private equity funds need to be engaging with the financial press, which is read by many of the funds and institutions they are hoping to attract investment from. The reality is some funds still refuse to interact with media organizations, as they are afraid about getting their messaging wrong, which can perpetuate harmful myths about the sector.

What are the challenges that you faced in your initial years?

Brackendale started out focusing on private equity media relations: given my private equity journalism background, I thought it was an obvious direction to take the company in. I knew that I had more specialist experience than some of the larger, more generalist PR firms that many of the private equity houses were employing. I not only had in-house private equity IR and PR experience but as a financial editor, I would receive hundreds of press releases a day – and know what constitutes a good story, as well as which angles to market, to which publications, to get the desired coverage. However, I underestimated the sway that some of the larger PR companies held over the market.

By the time I figured that PR activities would take a while to get off the ground, I had discovered a real market need for help improving the content and design of investor presentations. It was then that I invited Jonathan Parker – a former colleague and friend from when I was International Editor at IR magazine in 2007, who carried out the branding for Brackendale – to come on board to help inject some professional design expertise into clients’ marketing materials.

In 2017, Brackendale launched its investor pitch training service – in both English and French – to offer private equity firms the complete package to help them fundraise. Once PE houses have the perfect presentation in place, they still need to relay information in a compelling and convincing way, or investors will look elsewhere.

Over time, as we have focused on pitch training and investor marketing design, content, and advice, our PR offering has grown all by itself. We are no longer that little-known firm competing against the PR giants. We are the specialized one-stop investor marketing and communications shop competing against the PR giants.

What role does your staff play in the success of your firm?

Brackendale is a small but friendly firm that is incredibly responsive, dedicated, and prepared to go the extra mile for our clients.

We pride ourselves on our flexibility, speed of delivery, and strive to attain perfection on each project we undertake. We have been known to work weekends, evenings, and even on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day last year when a client came to us needing help at the eleventh hour. We adapt to meet our clients’ needs and are happy to take on projects that don’t fit into our core services – such as translation work, presenting at annual investor meetings, promoting clients outside the financial press, or appearing in a promotional video for a new merchant banking client.

We also take on either ad-hoc project work or regular retainer work, to suit our clients’ needs and budgets. We generally find that, once a client has tried us out for one project – say a presentation redesign – then they keep coming back for more; whether it’s pitch training, PR support, a web redesign, or document translations. And the more work we do for them, the better we can know and serve our clients.

Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

I envisage we’ll still be doing the same thing, but with a bigger team, more clients, and greater exposure to global clients.

Fay Margo: An Inspiring Leader

Fay Margo is the Founding Chief Executive Officer of Brackendale. She started out as a financial journalist, writing for publications including The Economist, The Financial Times Group, Private Equity International, IR magazine (international editor), and France unquote (editor). She has appeared as a commentator on CBNC Europe’s Power Lunch and Squawk Box programs and worked as a radio broadcaster on Lyon 1ère in France.

Ms. Margo began working for European private equity fund Cipio Partners in 2012, managing media relations and investor relations and helping out with deal origination. A year later, the firm became Brackendale’s first client.

Ms. Margo holds BA and MA (Res) degrees in French and Italian from the University of Leeds and speaks English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Russian, and Catalan.

“We recognize the importance of branding and market positioning to show your group in the best possible light to investors, the financial press and other company stakeholders.”