Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Public plus Investor Relations, a Formula for Synergy in Communications

In today's rough market times, corporate communicators from different subject areas assess opportunities of working together for synergy. Take PR and IR communicators in Russia, for example. At a recent roundtable organized* by three trade associations, a communications forum and a financial news agency, opinions and ideas flowed freely.

The exchange was facilitated by an engaging intro from Alexander Gerchik, international trader. Here are some takeaways from his presentation:

“A trader pays attention not to a fact but rather its interpretation.” Negative facts concerning a company can and should be counter-leveraged by constructive PR. Acknowledgment of a fact or issue is just a first step, it is the management's reaction to it that matters. Especially when a company is neither large nor regularly covered by the media. “Such PR-initiated news releases work best for second and third-tier companies.”

Second set of takeaways comes from Vladimir Zaluzhsky, Head of IR at Severstal:

“PR helps IR to manage bad news and create favorable context.” This reflects with what Gerchik said, but also, from an IR perspective, works the other way round. “IR communicator can explain to his PR colleague the meaning of plain [regulatory] news.”

What is interesting, is a difference in perception of time by PR communicators working at non-public companies. Nastasya Savina, VP, Corporate Communications, ABBYY, said: “At a non-public company, image strengthening work is done slowly, bit by bit.” She added that ABBYY is looking for IPO in 5-10 years.

More takeaways on IR came from Olga Rink, Executive Director at Russia's ARFI – Financial Communications and Investor Relations Association:

“Russian [traded] companies now hire PR executives with IR background.” The reasons are quite simple. For one, “IR communicator is also [fluent in] PR, Finance and Legal.” Most importantly, “IR can help liquidate the 5-10% corporate management discount.”

As for evaluating corporate PR and IR performance, the main KPI for a traded company is the share price, while for a non-public company it is the profit, according to Elena Dugina, head of i*consulting. Elena Sanarova, Director of Department for External Communications at RUSNANO, said she favors a reputational audit in those cases when it's the reputational capital and not the profit that counts.

*The roundtable was organized by:
Russian chapter of IABC,
ARFI – Financial Communications and Investor Relations Association,
Russian Managers Association (website in Russian),
Communication on Top Forum,
PRIME news agency.