In the wide world of brand relations, the paths of public relations and investor relations (IR) not only frequently cross, they often rely on each other. PR and IR both seek to build credibility and visibility for an organization, with PR helping organizations become category leaders and IR helping them secure positions with important stakeholders. The difference is PR is focused on elevating the business, including the brand, technology, product, and people, while IR aims to position the “business of the business” — meaning a company’s financial model, its total addressable market, timeline to operating profit, etc.
Tier One was pleased to recently sponsor a PRClub of New England program entitled, “Creating an Ideal Partnership Between Investor Relations and PR” and led by Mary Conway and Beth Kurth of the investor relations firm, Conway Communications. The firm works with both private and public companies and delivers a wide range of investor relations services. Over the years, we’ve been proud to work alongside them on several client engagements.
PR and IR often face the same pressures, particularly in an environment where the velocity of information is faster than ever. In the PRClub session, Conway and Kurth spoke on IR myths, trends, challenges, and why the two disciplines need each other more than ever in today’s business world.
It’s Not Just Public Companies that Need IR
One might think it’s only publicly traded companies that benefit from IR, but Conway and Kurth explained that’s not the case. Private companies are increasingly engaging with IR firms for a variety of reasons. They may be exploring a path to go public or looking to understand “optionality,” which translates to the different choices a private company may have for future funding or exits. And some simply want the market intelligence IR delivers when a company is engaged in industry conversations alongside their publicly-traded peers.
IR Addresses a Complex Ecosystem of Stakeholders
As the media environment expands and with the rise of influencer marketing, PR has been tasked with communicating to a broader audience than before. The same is true in IR, where listed companies are the subject of regulators, institutional investors, retail investors, social media, proxy advisors, sell-side analysts, investment bankers, financial media, activist investors, and stock exchanges. While each of these parties is concerned with full and fair disclosure, they play different roles in the IR ecosystem — developing research, ensuring corporate governance, or issuing in-depth analyses of companies’ financial projections.
IR Planning: Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Just like in PR, planning plays a critical role in the development of an effective IR program. The IR team will develop a plan to identify and meet the appropriate goals after evaluating a company’s assets, including its technology/innovation/discovery, its go-to-market strategy, its financials, and its leadership team. They will also look at the efforts of “peer companies,” which are organizations that either do the same thing as “Company X” or have a similar financial profile.
IR Activities and Channels: Adding Value Along the Way
Investor relations includes a wide variety of activities and messaging channels to pursue for clients, including regularly scheduled quarterly earnings announcements as well as:
- the effective use of investment bank and other relevant conferences
- coordinating non-deal roadshows with analysts or independently (targeting priority investors and geographies, or hosting add-on events at major industry conferences)
- the creative use of other opportunities for company leadership to engage with its investment community access (e.g. KOL events or investor events within customer events).
And just as PR would counsel its clients, Conway Communications' golden rule to avoid missteps is to prepare and practice. Companies should plan their announcements carefully, conduct routine training for management, role play Q&As (e.g., advising company leaders to share ranges, not specific numbers and, in a departure from the usual PR advice, to feel free to say “no comment” on some sensitive topics).
IR/PR Working Together: 1+1 = 3
To close the evening, Conway and Kurth shared their perspective that PR and IR working together delivers greater impact and better resource management for a company, creating a “1+1 = 3” value proposition. Together, the two disciplines can make more disciplined use of management's time while:
- sharing outgoing materials
- broadening the channel of incoming competitive intelligence
- reinforcing a company’s key messages
By understanding the impact of a collaborative PR and IR program, communications professionals can be even more strategic and more valuable counselors to our clients. Our thanks to Mary and Beth for the perspectives and insights they shared during this valuable presentation.
We’d love to learn more about how your PR and IR programs work together and help you find ways to make the most of both.