Putting the media in investor relations

By Chowning Johnson on January 7th, 2016

Traditional investor relations (IR) is a nuanced art form that requires the right partner with the right knowledge. For example, advising companies on the ins and outs of securities law compliance, shareholder meetings, strategy and oversight, relationship building with potential investors, taking a company public, etc. Too often we see clients assume an IR firm can deftly handle their PR needs or conversely, that we can handle all IR needs. While the lines are certainly a bit blurry at times, the most success comes when the two worlds merge—pursuing not only IR with the right partner, but examining investor media relations (IMR) as a strategic part of the equation.

Let’s take this conceptual conversation around IMR down to some anecdotal tips that help move the IR needle from a public relations perspective.

Knowing your target. While companies are laser-focused on customer retention and growth, as well as acquiring new customers, IMR requires a mindset shift. Customers and prospects aren’t your sole target audience across these efforts. Whether it’s funding, M&A, an IPO or other exit plan, IR events mark an opportunity to attract attention from financial and investor influencers as well as media that primarily covers these topics. Your messages need to speak to the right groups, which could range from investors and LPs to potential employee recruits and channel partners.

Garnering attention from the right influencers. For IMR, like the previous point mentions, traditional trades, for example, may not engage the appropriate audiences for a funding event or as you prepare for an IPO. It’s important to closely examine the financial, venture, entrepreneurial and industry-specific conferences as well as business, tech and national outlets that will give you a megaphone to reach influencers and decision makers. By building a presence in these forums, you lend additional third-party credibility to your IR story that can be an important part of having a successful IPO, acquisition or funding round.

Building out the company brand. A significant aide when it comes to IMR is looking at the brand not only of your company, but also building the platform and personas for a couple of key opinion leaders. Who do we want them to be in the public? What are the key messages they need to consistently hit? What is unique about them compared to other leaders that will make people take notice? We probably want to avoid black turtlenecks (ahem, Theranos) for a bit, but what kind of image should these individuals portray that plays well off the company line? What forums should we position them for in order to connect with the desired target audience? Is there value in making a KOL an ongoing contributor in a nationally-syndicated business blog that aligns with their overall persona?

Timing, timing, timing. Underscoring it all, a strategically, well-thought out plan that considers timing and allows for the right amount of activity before, during or after an IR-related event can influence success. This isn’t a game where you want to start late and hope that it works out just fine.

Net-net, whether you’ve raised a new round, acquired a company or want to put out the for sale sign, it’s a great time to elevate the conversation around your company to a different playing field.

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