I WAS going to write a long piece about how investor relations departments can use web technologies to increase their efficiency and effectiveness while simultaneously cutting their costs, but Dick Johnson had a more timely idea.
On his IR Cafe blog, which I recommend you add to your RSS reader, the president of Johnson Strategic Communications Inc. offers 10 ideas on doing IR in a bear market from “one IR guy who has been through a few market cycles.”
It’s a great read, the kind of uplifting clear advice that we all need at times like this. If I was to add anything to the discussion it would be to take advantage of new technologies to help your company’s people tell the story in their own words.
Dick stresses the importance of telling your company’s story credibly and guarding your firm’s reputation. He mentions being factual, tackling the good with the bad, and focusing on where management sees the company going in the long-term.
This time around, however, we have new low-cost tools to do these things. Technologies like blogs, podcasts, vodcasts and Twitter enable everyone from the CEO to workers on the shop floor to tell the company’s story. And often their voices, real and unrefined by the corporate PR machine, have much more credibility than sanitized, over-massaged press releases.
Investors still want the dry, hard facts of formal reports, but if you want to give your company an edge in this market, you’d do well to remember that investors are also buying into a business run by real people. Get those people out in front of investors, not just in person in small group meetings or one-on-ones, but out on the web as well.
You might start an IR blog that you use to talk about the company, its products and its business strategy, including interviewing executives in different parts of the company. Or if key people in the company are already blogging, add a page to your IR site that aggregates posts from the most relevant blogs, and give each of the bloggers a copy of Dick’s article so they know what is expected.
The last thing you want to do is be flashy and promotional. Keep it real and keep it human.
P.S. Minutes after posting this, I read a piece in the Financial Times by Michael Gordon, global head of Institutional Investment Fidelity International, on seven things he expects on the road ahead. It includes this prediction:
“Investors will shift away from models, quantitative or otherwise, and back to human beings, where their level of understanding is greater.”
Update: Continuing the investor-relations-in-a-bear-market meme, George Tsiolis of Agoracom has weighed in with Best Investor Relations Practices During Market Turmoil