Integrate Investor and Media Communications For Greater Success
by Hilary Kaye, Hilary Kaye Associates, Inc.

With every economic indicator sounding alarms, it is critical for emerging technology companies to seek new growth avenues. The need for new sources of capital investment will continue to grow. One of the most cost-effective and results-efficient ways to encourage this growth is to communicate regularly, consistently and positively with key audiences.

Whether your company is public or private, two of the most important audiences to target are investors and the media. The need to integrate investor relations (IR) with public relations (PR) is paramount because these disciplines are two of the key shapers of corporate reputation. And many investment decisions – whether institutional investment for public companies or angel investment for private ventures – are based on corporate reputation.

Four reasons headline the need for IR and PR integration:

First, earning positive press among business and financial media builds corporate credibility. If you’re a rearelatively young company, media exposure can help you appear "real," providing a third-party endorsement of your company and ultimately leading to investment opportunities. If you’re a public company, existing investors feel validated when credible business and financial press, such as the Bloomberg Business News, Forbes and Wall Street Journal cover their investments, and the positive exposure can attract investors looking for new opportunities.

Second, there are cost savings,communications savings, communications efficiencies,efficiencies and consistency of message when IR and PR are married. Companies can leverage communications materials and use them for multiple audiences. For example, your PR department can use IR fact sheets and brochures in its press kits, and your IR team can submit your company’s sell-side analysts as third-party media references. Small companies can even utilize the same team for IR and PR for maximum cost savings and consistency.

Third, investors today demand information. The demographics of the American investment community are changing and information resources are growing exponentially to keep up with investors’ requirements. Over the past decade, there has been a sharp increase in the number of individual investors. Ordinary people control their own finances and invest in the capital markets. Individual investors heartily seek information sources and investigate multiple channels for data. In conjunction with this swing in investor demographics are the seemingly overwhelming sources of online media. Internet-based chat rooms, e-zines and news organizations feed information-hungry investors information minute by minute. These data-driven machines are the perfect outlets for your combined IR and PR efforts.

Fourth, the passage last year of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Regulation Fair Disclosure (Reg FD) altered how public corporations disseminate information. These changes call for a closer alliance of PR and IR to ensure that federal stature is being followed and all investors receive information simultaneously.

The key to successfully integrating IR and PR at your company hinges on awareness, followed by cooperation and resource planning.

The first priority is to view IR and PR NOT as separate disciplines but rather two avenues of communication meant to achieve the same goal: corporate visibility and strength. The end audience is the same for both: the investor. To reach that end, IR spreads its message via the professional investment community, i.e. analysts, brokers, money managers, and PR (financial media relations) sends its news via the business and financial press. Whether you are contacting an analyst or a reporter, the means to communicate and the messages to be disseminated are interwoven. If appropriate to your company’s structure, hold regular meetings between those conducting IR and PR to determine how to handle recent events as well as upcoming issues. Ensure consistency of message so there is only one story circulating about your company and its developments.

Second, look for ways to combine IR and PR. Whether handled entirely in-house or through outside agencies, the more the efforts are combined, the better the result. If your CEO will be traveling in New York, San Francisco or Boston – media and analyst hot spots – leverage his or her schedule by organizing investor analyst and media briefings. Also, work together to produce investor and press materials. For example, an investor pitch could include recent reprints of favorable press, while a press kit could offer an investor fact sheet that provides a quick overview of the company's financial results, products and services, recent achievements and management. Successes on one side should always be extended to the other.

With such planning and commitment, your IR and PR efforts can lead to enhanced corporate reputation and investment opportunities.

(Hilary Kaye is founder and president of Hilary Kaye Associates, Inc., a 17-year-old firm that provides financial media relations and other marketing communications programs for public and private companies. The firm specializes in working with emerging technology companies.)

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