Bridging the divide between IR and PR

Three ways to coordinate investor relations and public relations efforts

8Jan

Successful organizations are breaking down siloes between departments to drive new opportunities and competitive advantages. But there often still remains a divide between investor relations (IR) and public relations (PR). In a best-case scenario, PR and IR would work in lock-step to promote product value, brand awareness and differentiators to customers and investors alike. But in most scenarios, PR and IR act like indifferent neighbors at best and hostile factions at worst.

In fact, over the last two decades, PR and IR have grown further and further apart. The idea of coordinating campaigns for the greater good can seem challenging. But the two have natural synergies, so the question remains: Is there a way to reconcile this mutually beneficial relationship?

Lines have been drawn

While both IR and PR teams are responsible for promoting the company, they rarely work together because they report to different corporate officers. IR reports to the chief financial officer because they are responsible for communicating the finances of the company to financial analysts, investors and shareholders. PR reports to the chief marketing officer and is charged with promoting the company's products or services to industry analysts, media, customers, partners, prospects and – depending on the size of the organization – employees. The CEO is the only executive who has a relationship with both groups: With IR when preparing for earnings calls and acquisitions and with PR when announcing new products and offerings.

So, with their seemingly completely different tasks, IR and PR teams buckle down and focus on the tasks at hand without any thought of each other. However, opening a dialogue between the two could potentially strengthen and clarify a company's message while increasing visibility, resulting in more sales and stronger partnerships.

Three quick ways to bridge the divide

Here are three ways to gain quick wins in the effort to create an open dialog between IR and PR.

Sharing industry trends

The PR team is constantly on the hunt for the latest industry trends and events, which they use to produce thought leadership by the company's experts. IR is often buffeted by news items that cause investors to demand an explanation on how the company plans to address a new trend or a perceived weakness in a current product offering. If PR advised IR of the trends and sent factoids and quotes from team experts ahead of time, IR could use this information to respond confidently to shareholder calls following an industry event. Conversely, if IR sent out a weekly or monthly note regarding typical questions being asked, PR could capture approved CMO and CEO responses based on industry analyst and media briefings.

Sharing coverage

The number and quality of articles secured for the company are often the measure of PR success.

Often, these pieces are not seen by IR until they search the company website to determine what good things have been said in the last quarter by the media and industry analysts (assuming the website is kept up to date). Since coverage wins are frequently sent the same day and the coverage is sent from the PR team to the marketing team, it would be simple enough to include IR on the communication thread.

Ideally, IR would see the coverage as it comes in, helping them to pick and choose items along the way that would be of interest to IR's key audiences. For instance, large investors put a great deal of value on awards. Awards should be sent immediately to IR so that they can promote them in their discussions and communications.

Sharing timelines

Timelines of upcoming events are integral to both groups. The PR team's focus is on press releases, trade shows, presentations at events and awards. IR looks towards quarterly results, scripting earnings calls and end of year 10Ks. Knowing each other's key dates can help each group benefit from content available to make the creation of original documents easier and of greater value.

By joining forces and sharing information, the quality of communication would generate greater interest from prospects and investors while improving return on investment and reducing duplicated efforts.

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