Why Investor Relations and Public Relations Should Work in Harmony
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The transition a company makes from a privately held entity to a publicly traded one can be a shock. Strong coordination of the company's image can assist in making a seamless transition from the private to public sector by capturing the interest of investors and industry experts. To do that an entrepreneur needs to work with the investor relations and public relations teams. But will they work with each other?
In an ideal world, the two teams would work in harmony, bringing together the perfect blend of brand awareness, product value and differentiation for customers and investors. Yet in today’s quarterly driven economy, the investor relations and public relations teams seldom communicate. This is especially true for small-cap companies. Here are ways to forge closer lines of communication:
Defining roles. The investor relations and public relations teams are both responsible for promoting the company though they rarely work together as they report to different corporate officers.
The investor relations team reports to the CFO, who is responsible for communicating the finances of the company to financial analysts, investors and shareholders. The public relations team reports to the chief marketing officer and is charged with promoting the company’s products and services to industry analysts, media, customers, partners, prospects, and depending on the size of the organization, employees. The only crossover is with the CEO, who maintains communication with both groups.
As workloads have increased and resources diminished, both teams have focused on the tasks at hand without any thought of each other. Ideally a dialogue between the two groups could potentially strengthen and clarify a company’s message while increasing visibility, resulting in more sales and stronger partnerships.
Here are several quick and easy ways both teams can benefit from closer coordination:
Coverage success. Public relations success is measured by the number and quality of articles secured for the company. Often these pieces are not seen by investor relations staffers until they search the company website to determine what coverage has been obtained in the last quarter (assuming the website has been kept up-to-date).
Since the PR team disseminates coverage wins to the marketing team, it would be simple enough to include investor relations staff on the communication thread.
Tracking trends. The PR team monitors the latest industry trends and leverages them to position company experts as thought leaders with the media. The investor relations staff is often buffeted by news items that cause investors to demand how the company plans to address a new trend or a perceived weakness in a current product offering.
If the PR team advised the investor relations staff of the trends and sent factoids and quotes from team experts ahead of time, the latter staff could respond confidently to shareholder calls following an industry event. By keeping one another in the loop with questions and advisement, the two groups could take each trend in stride.
Sharing timelines. Both groups maintain timelines of upcoming activities. For PR staffers, the focus is on press releases, trade shows, presentations at events and awards. Investor relations personnel looks toward quarterly results, scripting earnings calls and end-of-year 10K releases. Each group could benefit by knowing the other’s key dates to ensure content under development is available for multiple purposes.
Investor-relations staffers would use the materials that the PR team provides. This would enables investor-relations staffers to pick and chose items that would be of interest to their key audiences. For instance, large investors put a great deal of value on awards. In this case, awards would be sent immediately to the investor relations team, so that they can promote them in their next discussion.
The quality of communication would generate greater interest from prospects and investors and reduce redundant effort expended by both teams.
The goal should always be to decrease uncertainty while building credibility and trust through consistent messaging. By working together, the two groups could create a solid basis for growth opportunities, including identifying issues and events of interest to potential sales contacts and ultimately resulting in an increase of leads, sales and cash flow.