DO HEDGE FUNDS HAVE Best Ideas? Maybe Not
In the spring of 2020, Epsilon Asset Management was ready to expand beyond its handful of clients. The boutique equity asset management firm founded three years earlier was faced with frequent questions from potential investors about the academic theory behind its strategy. Epsilon partnered with New York University to produce a comprehensive study that validated the firm’s innovative model and underscored its unique approach to investing. Epsilon wanted to leverage the paper to raise awareness of its business and turned to Forefront as its marketing and communications partner. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic while planning this campaign presented a potentially insurmountable obstacle, as unprecedented market volatility threatened to invalidate Epsilon’s entire study. With the clock ticking, we knew that we needed work quickly to help Epsilon pivot and meet these unforeseen circumstances.
From the start, we knew that boiling down the paper’s complex academic findings into a few memorable and meaningful key messages would be vital to capturing the attention of financial media as well as clients and prospects. When Epsilon approached us, they were in the drafting stage of a whitepaper summary of the study aimed at a more general audience, and we immediately recognized this as the perfect vehicle for making the academic report more accessible. Upon an exhaustive review of the draft and the data, and in consultation with our new client, we determined that the primary thrust of our campaign should focus on a surprising finding in the report on a topic that attracts outsized media attention: Epsilon had discovered that hedge fund “Best Ideas” had not outperformed those funds’ wider portfolios for two decades.
With this counterintuitive angle chosen as our focus, Forefront began the engagement by completely overhauling the whitepaper, rewriting it to make previously academic language fully understandable to a variety of readers, and to ensure it appealed to Epsilon’s target audiences and outlets. As the study reviewed decades of hedge fund investments, when COVID-19 became a factor, we understood the possibility that reporters might only be interested in the most recent market period, which was not covered by the report. At our suggestion, Epsilon went back and ran an analysis on the most current data, and Forefront composed a “Virus and Volatility” addendum from scratch and added it to the report. With the whitepaper finalized, Forefront moved to execute a targeted media outreach campaign, first approaching Bloomberg with an early exclusive look at the data.
To amplify the report’s findings and promote Epsilon as a company, Forefront wrote and distributed a press release announcing the project’s findings. On the digital marketing front, we crafted content for Epsilon and our own social media channels and featured the news in our daily newsletter, guaranteeing it would be seen by key capital markets decision-makers.
The campaign was a tremendous success, ultimately becoming a finalist at the 2020 Platinum PR Awards for the Finance/Fintech vertical. Epsilon described Forefront’s efforts and results as “above and beyond” and far eclipsing the small project engagement they were expecting. We secured placements in a host of financial, markets and hedge fund publications, including Barron’s and multiple features in Bloomberg, two top news sources for Epsilon’s clients and prospects. When Epsilon’s CEO was interviewed by Tom Keene – arguably Bloomberg’s most recognized TV and radio personality – in an appearance we arranged, Keene gave the report high praise, calling it “spectacular” and “authoritative” live on air.