SPAC Attack – What They Are, Why You Should Care and How Communications Plays a Role

April 1 2021

You can’t swing a unicorn these days without bumping into a SPAC conversation (sorry, bad Silicon Valley joke). In days of yore (pre-COVID), the technology PR world would hum with conversations about IPOs, vesting schedules and year-long plans for going public. Like everything else, things are different today. Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. (Do I get bonus points for a bad joke and a Ferris Bueller quote in one paragraph?)

What is a SPAC?

A Special Purpose Acquisitions Company (SPAC) is a shell company specifically set up by investors to raise money through an IPO and eventually acquire another company.

For example, SPAC Hedosophia Holdings bought a large stake (49%) in Virgin Galactic before taking the company public in 2019. SPAC companies have no existing business functions at inception and have two years to complete an acquisition or return investments to funders.

Communications’ Role

A SPAC can accelerate a pace, but what it can’t do is build awareness – at least not without a little outside help. This is where strategic and professional communications come to the table. Not every SPAC has a spokesperson like Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic), so making noise about the product/service/company that will eventually be listed on an exchange is vital. For SPACs to fly (Virgin Galactic pun intended), they must make some noise. Early. Before the SPAC files its intent to list an acquired company.

Hiring a trusted communications partner to create and implement an outbound program can provide the runway needed to make sure a SPAC is spun.

A Little Advice on Choosing a Communications Firm if Considering a SPAC

  • Stories must be told. Find an integrated agency that will work with you efficiently to take one initiative and package that into content for media, social media, blogs, thought leadership and digital.
  • Foundations must be strong before shining a light on your company. Ask agencies you are considering about their work in messaging, media training, target market segmentation and positioning analysis.
  • Start early. It takes time to build that awareness leading into a financial event. The longer the runway, the smoother the take-off.

How to Start the Process

  • Do your research. Ask contacts who have had successful experiences to refer you to an agency.
  • Check for chemistry. This relationship is a partnership. Make sure you feel confident and “click” with the team. 
  • Make sure you’ve got both PR (public relations) and IR (investor relations) functions covered. You’ll need both, and more than likely they’ll be two separate companies. It’s always a good idea to find resources that work well in a team environment.

This article first appeared in the blog series of Landis Communications Inc. (LCI), PRGN’s member agency in San Francisco, California.

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Brianne Murphy Miller
Business Development Manager, Landis Communications Inc. (LCI)
Brianne Murphy Miller has spent close to 25 years in communications and marketing. As Senior Consultant and Business Development Manager at LCI, she is responsible for strategic counsel to a myriad of LCI clients, as well as overseeing all sales, marketing and business development needs for the agency. Prior to her work with LCI, Ms. Miller was VP Communications for TeeBeeDee, an online social network for baby boomers. The launch of that company was covered by media internationally and lauded as one of the hottest new tech start-ups of the year. Previously, she ran her own consultancy, B. & Company, for ten years, serving clients in the lifestyle, media, and tech industries. Ms. Miller also was Director of Public Relations for Kamer~Singer & Associates, a full service public relations and public affairs agency. There, she was responsible for the travel and hospitality division and new business. Her first foray into consumer technology was as Vice President of Marketing for, which developed push technology software. She joined after more than five years as Communications Director at Sunset Publishing Corporation. In that capacity, Ms. Miller was in charge of all public relations programs for the largest publishing company in the Western United States. She also helped launch their new media division, consumer expo programs and oversaw all trade show publicity efforts. Before migrating West, Ms. Miller worked in her native New York City for fashion designer Adrienne Vittadini and at GLAMOUR Magazine. She started her career at advertising agency Wells, Rich, Greene Inc., where she was part of the team that began the resurgent popularity of the Senior PGA Tour with client Liberty Mutual Insurance. Ms. Miller is a graduate of Fairfield University and holds a B.A. in English and Communications. She is a former board member of the San Francisco Public Relations Roundtable, has been guest lecturer at University of California Berkeley, and is involved in numerous local charities.

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