Private equity firms are learning that “private” can be a disadvantage in the era of digital social networks. G7 voters are frustrated by prolonged poor economic performance, falling prosperity and growing income disparities. P/E firms are an all too convenient target, and US presidential candidate Mitt Romney is bringing unwelcome exposure to the industry. There is a strong populist theme to U.S. and European politics, which sets the scene for a prolonged era of criticism, precisely when the industry is struggling, and firms are closing.
Smart P/E firms will be grounded and strategic about building trust among lawmakers, their publics and other stakeholders, and using digital social networks could play a key role in educating stakeholders and interacting with readers with transparency and principles, thereby building trust and dampening criticism. Specifically, P/E firms should: