Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change
Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

Can Lynn Tilton's social media crusade work?

Lynn Tilton's Instagram page
Source: Lynn Tilton | Instagram

The private equity industry usually lives up to its name by keeping business intensely private. Lynn Tilton is not the average private equity executive.

The brash founder of Patriarch Partners, she has mounted an aggressive social media campaign over the last year as her private investment firm has become embroiled in back-and-forth lawsuits with the Securities and Exchange Commission over alleged investor fraud. Tilton also faces a related lawsuit from two former investors, which she contests.

Sometimes Tilton sounds like a politician, crowing about the jobs she has saved by providing financial lifelines to troubled companies.


In other Twitter and Instagram posts, Tilton takes the CEO tack, praising the men and women who work for the roughly 75 companies Patriarch invests in, including MD Helicopters, Stila Cosmetics and Gorham Paper and Tissue.

Tilton also likes to post poetic missives on her life and challenges.


"I find that social media allows me the forum to speak directly to the public with regard to my work to restructure companies, my dedication to saving American jobs and my belief that economic power belongs to the maker of things," Tilton said in an email to via a spokesman. "Social media has provided me the medium to best reflect my ideas, my business and me in my own words and images."

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The approach is certainly unusual for the industry.

"Social media is hardly a traditional conduit for private equity managers," said Owen Blicksilver, president of Owen Blicksilver Public Relations, which counsels TPG Capital, Colony Capital and others.

Still, he understands Tilton's efforts.

"It is an appropriate conduit for delivering the broader job creation and job saving messages she espouses," Blicksilver said. "As long it doesn't become a distraction for her, social media makes a lot of sense to create understanding and build a larger base of support."

"It's perfectly consistent with the brand she's put out for a long time. Social media is a way to totally control your message," adds Tom Walek, president of capital markets and financial services at public relations firm Peppercomm.

Another expert cautioned that the legal issues will be more important.

"It's really too soon to tell if all this posting will help. Social media can be powerful for improving perception, but the legal issues may trump that if they go against her," said Christina Bertinelli, a senior partner at communications consultant Lumentus.

Tilton first posted on Instagram in November and has more than 1,000 followers. She started on Twitter in December and has amassed more than 21,000 followers. A short jobs and butterfly-themed video she posted on YouTube in May has more than 63,000 views.

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Tilton, who favors revealing clothing and big jewelry, has long courted attention. She made a pilot of a reality show, "Diva of Distressed," for example, and has appeared on CNBC's "Secret Lives of the Super Rich."

Tilton has had ownership in and restructured more than 240 companies with combined revenues in excess of $100 billion, representing more than 675,000 jobs since 2000, according to Patriarch's website.