THIS IS A SHARED POST FROM OUR “BEYOND PR” BLOG
It’s true that investor relations and public relations perform different functions, serve different internal and external audiences, and operate under their own sets of best practices or – in the case of IR – regulations.
And because IR and PR often don’t have the same specific objectives or report to the same supervisors, it’s not uncommon for each team to work independently with little to no collaboration.
This is a mistake.
Collaboration between PR and IR can be critical to presenting a cohesive brand message, and an integrated communications strategy allows both teams to demonstrate corporate value to all audiences.
This can be especially true during an economic downturn. As discussed in IR Best Practices to Weather an Economic Storm, “the basic principles of good investor relations apply to boom and bust times alike.”
For example, take the oil and gas industry, which is one of the industries explored in our newest white paper. Falling prices and shrinking profits have created a challenging environment for businesses across the globe.
“There’s not a heck of a lot we can do about the economy,” says Bradley H. Smith, Director of Marketing for IR & Compliance Solutions at PR Newswire/Vintage. “Markets do what markets do. Certainly the Investor Relations Officers working within the oil and gas sector are sorely aware of this.”
Bradley suggests that in times of economic turmoil, PR needs to follow IR’s lead—but IR should also be utilizing PR techniques.
“Weathering an economic storm is an instance where IR must take the communications lead,” he says. “The DNA of IR is built for long-term messaging and results. IR has the patience for slow recovery.”
While perhaps it is particularly important during times of economic distress, there are critical ways that PR can aid IR no matter the state of the economy.
Here are three tenets of strong investor relations and the PR tactics that will help in good times and bad.
1.) Be consistent with shareholder communications
“Shareholder communications builds shareholder confidence and shareholder confidence builds shareholder value. That simple sentence is the strategic core to all the tools and tactics IR uses,” says Bradley.
One main thing PR can do to help is maintain a steady cadence of press releases. This particular PR tactic is essential for keeping a company top-of-mind among a variety of audiences.
Establishing such a cadence will present a consistent voice and tone of content, and speaking with one unified voice across IR, PR and other channels is key to developing shareholders’ and the public’s trust.
If your brand already has a reputation in the marketplace as having a consistent voice, maintaining it during times of economic trouble will present a lasting, and strong, image that reinforces confidence among shareholders, customers, sales leads, and other audiences.
2.) Highlight the strength of your management team
If your goal is to look strong—well, maybe this one is pretty obvious.
“The consistency of shareholder communications is essential to demonstrating the strength and stamina of a company’s management team. Rather than going dark, a company’s CEO needs to clearly communicate how they will work through the economy and maintain shareholder value,” Bradley recommends.
Shareholder confidence will grow if they believe that your management team is moving the company in the right direction. Presenting such an image not only encourages investors to get on board, it can also impress current or potential customers.
If your CEO is a good speaker, says Bradley, promote him or her more. Get the entire executive board talking. “This may even be the time to finally bring the board out to meet investors,” he adds.
This is a great place for PR to work with IR. The PR team has experience pitching internal experts and getting media placements. Collaborate with IR to target media outlets your investors follow, such as sources of financial news and trade publications.
3.) Be absolutely transparent
While communicators of all stripes know the importance of showcasing the strengths of their company, transparency—even in down times—is just as critical to building positive sentiment around a brand.
Transparency can help prevent current shareholders from shorting their position in your stock and convince new investors to take a position before a financial bounceback.
“The downturn might not be your fault,” says Bradley, “but it is your problem.”
One thing to consider that will lead to more transparency: Don’t be afraid to compare yourself to the rest of your industry.
“Usually we don’t like to compare ourselves, but peer comparison could be helpful to show that misery loves company—it’s not just us,” Bradley explains. “You have to juxtapose your current situation with global conditions so investors can judge for themselves. Can the company make the case that selling short would be bad? Absolutely.”
“Tell your bounceback story in real context of what the economy is doing in both the short and long term.”
How can PR help? Monitor industry trends closely and consider all brand communications with that global context in mind. Showcase your awareness of the industry’s ups and downs and be honest about your company’s place in current events. This will allow you to connect with the public in an authentic way and increase confidence in your brand.
Even seasoned communicators struggle with the economy’s ups and downs. Download IR Best Practices to Weather an Economic Storm for tips from successful Investor Relations Officers about what, when and how to communicate effectively during an economic downturn.