London-based Peregrine Communications is one of Europe’s most successful specialist financial public relations agencies. Established in 2003 by partner and chief executive Anthony Payne (pictured), Peregrine has built an award-winning reputation based on proven results and first-class client service.
Reflecting on 2011, Payne says the firm focused on pulling intellectual capital out of managers to package and translate their investment edge. This was helped by the hiring in June of partner and head of research Ermanno Mattio, who previously worked in research and business development for institutions ranging from Commerzbank to Credit Suisse.
“We’re putting together messaging that communicates the investment edge, which we translate into presentations, web sites and media activities,” Payne says. “Some agencies, because they don’t necessarily understand the complexity of what they’re hearing, tend to dumb things down.” He adds: “Creating noise like expert commentary – that’s too easy. You have to work a lot harder than that. The objective here is to help clients own the space.”
He points to ‘The Black Swan’ author Nassim Nicholas Taleb who, whether he intended to or not, used a highly successful PR strategy: he developed a strong viewpoint, packaged it effectively through his book, then communicated it rigorously by means such as speaking at conferences. “Now his name is synonymous with tail risk,” Payne says. “We do the same – for example, our emerging markets clients are top of the list in their space.”
Peregrine understands the importance of understanding and communicating complexity, and clients are proving very receptive. Payne says there’s an “element of frustration” among hedge fund managers, generally speaking, who find it difficult working with PR advisors that don’t fully understand what it is they do.
“They’ve been waiting for this additional support,” he says. “We spend time sitting with clients extracting their investment DNA. For each interview we arrange with the press, we spend time negotiating the story idea. It’s a systematic process that gives clients the opportunity to communicate clearly and emphasise their investment edge, and leads to better results.”
Not that the process is plain sailing. By their nature, portfolio managers are reluctant to give away too much detail. To Payne it’s a balancing act between communicating as much as possible while at the same time not revealing the fund’s secret sauce. “There’s a lot they can talk about, but it boils down to trust, time and expertise,” he says. “It’s not easy getting people to open up.”
Last year was a good one for other reasons at Peregrine. It laid the groundwork for winning Rogge Global Partners, one of the world’s biggest fixed-income managers, this month, the latest of a number of new clients. The firm also undertook branding work with a number of clients looking to upgrade the impact of their web sites, their marketing collateral.
“Clients want to look more institutional to mirror the investors they’re pitching to,” Payne says. “They want a more coherent package so that their presentation communicates the same message as their web site. We also did a lot of internal consultancy work for clients such as funds of funds, helping them research investors and underlying fund managers as they start thinking about how to reposition themselves going forward.”
He adds: “We’re extremely excited to have won the award for the second year running, but we’re not resting on our laurels. We’re doing everything we can to provide as much value as possible to our clients, and it’s gratifying that Hedgeweek readers have recognised this.”