Investor Relations

How to Integrate Public Relations with Investor Relations: 4 Effective Steps

No matter what stage your publicly traded company is in, from startup to well-established industry bellwether or anywhere in between, all the various departments must work together. However, there are two essential communications-related functions that absolutely must be on the same page at all times.

After all, before an investor becomes a prospective shareholder targeted by investor relations, they are part of the general public — placing them under the purview of public relations. Here are some detailed steps outlining how to effectively integrate your public relations and investor relations strategies. Here are four effective ways to integrate investor relations with public relations.

1. Ensure IR and PR can understand and learn from each other.

Before making any plans or sending out any communications, it's critical that investor relations and public relations professionals understand the functions of the other department and how they differ from their own.

This isn't about not stepping on any toes. It's about understanding what makes IR and PR different and how the two departments can coordinate their efforts, resulting in one cohesive message everyone can understand.

For example, PR professionals might not realize that investor relations do far more than just issue earnings reports. They should also be speaking with prospective investors to attract financial interest. They're also tasked with keeping the lines of communication open with current investors so that they always feel like they know what's happening with their investment.

On the other hand, IR professionals might not realize that PR is much more than marketing or understand how the types of communications handled by PR differ from their own. It's the job of public relations to circulate the company's name through the ongoing narrative surrounding its industry.

A savvy PR professional will also be up to date on all the latest social media trends and best use cases for using social networking to drive positive experiences between the general public and the company. The most effective PR firms may even have a team that specializes in social media and uses it for PR purposes.

2. Sync your IR and PR calendars.

Unfortunately, it can be easy for public relations and investor relations to set their own timetables with no regard for what the other is doing.

However, a worst-case scenario will have the company looking like its left hand doesn't know what its right hand is doing. This is a decidedly unattractive public image that may leave investors and customers with the feeling that something unscrupulous might be going on, which is the last thing IR and PR professionals want.

Thus, it makes sense for investor relations and public relations to sync up their calendars if they haven't already done so. Just as each department is keeping the lines of communication open with their respective target groups, so they should be in regular contact with each other.

3. Be consistent in your storytelling.

Part of the process of syncing these two communications calendars is integrating the messages they send out. For example, public relations professionals need to know how to respond to media queries if or when investor relations sends out an announcement that negatively impacts the company's stock price.

Additionally, perception is a critical part of both the IR and PR functions. For example, the PR department might need to tweak its messaging a bit so that investors might not perceive a particular news item as extremely negative for the company.

News outlets tend to contact PR rather than IR, so public relations officials might want to work with investor relations to massage their messaging. IR may also need to respond with one-on-one communications with key investors in the event of negative industry or company-specific news reported by a media outlet.

IR and PR would do well to put up a united front when dealing with any kind of news that might affect the company. Their messaging should be unified, and one may have to consult the other to tweak it so that all publicly issued statements cast the company in as bright a light as possible. Consistency is also important because of how quickly and widely information is spread via numerous sources.

“The way we consume information has changed, challenging our attention spans and corporate communications to come up with innovative strategies to create and sustain influence,” IR specialist Rachel Carroll explained. “In a world of information overload, it is increasingly important to have IR and PR functions working in lockstep as part of a tightly managed campaign to punch through the noise and have lasting impact.”

4. Make decision-making a group effort.

Finally, both investor relations and public relations are tasked with important decisions to make, sometimes daily or even multiple times in one day. Of course, ensuring that the messaging from both departments is consistent and in line with what the other department is saying.

However, deciding on the best course of action is also best done as a group effort, with both IR and PR weighing in on what should be done. For example, a major media outlet might call and ask the company's CEO to give an interview about something happening in the industry or even something affecting a competitor.

Investor relations and public relations may have very different views on whether or not the CEO should do the interview, and for good reason. The company can only make the best decision in difficult situations by hearing views from both IR and PR.

Similarly, social media can take on a life of its own, with negative reports or even blatant misinformation spreading like wildfire. IR and PR would agree that the issue should be brought under control as quickly as possible, but the nature of that control might differ, depending on the department weighing in on the matter.

Working under the auspices of the PR department, the social media team will need to take steps to control the situation. However, the best decision will again be the result of multiple viewpoints shared by both IR and PR.

Other scenarios can seem far more cut and dry, possibly even appearing like a situation so easy to handle that PR or IR may not feel the need to seek advice from the other department. For example, numerous news outlets or even financial analysts might wildly misinterpret the company's earnings.

The knee-jerk reaction would be to correct those misinterpretations, but the nature of that correction may be quite different, depending on if it comes from IR or PR. Thus, it's a good idea to glean advice from both IR and PR — even if it seems like determining the correct way to handle the situation should be obvious.

Doing this will help ensure all the above can happen

Ultimately, when a company's IR and PR departments collaborate, it helps solidify the message so that the company is putting up a united front for both the general and investing public. However, it will be virtually impossible to do this if investor relations and public relations don't report to the same manager.

Oversight is the key to ensuring that PR and IR coordinate their efforts into one cohesive, easy-to-understand message for everyone from employees at the bottom rung of the company to asset managers with billions of dollars at their disposal for investment.

If all messages from both departments pass before the same person's eyes, they will be able to keep all corporate communications consistent and on point.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Ari Zoldan

Ari Zoldan is the CEO of New York-based Quantum Media Group, LLC. The company provides investor relations, public relations and equity research services to publicly traded companies. As an on-air media personality, Ari can be seen regularly on major media outlets and is frequently quoted in mainstream news outlets covering business, innovation and emerging trends.

Read Ari's Bio