It's Time to Come Together
Earlier this week the results from a survey on global IR practices were released. NIRI and BNY Mellon conducted the survey to provide insight into current approaches to IR given the volatile economic environment. I suggest reading the full summary, but given my view across PR and IR I was struck by the outcome that more than three-quarters of the respondents reported that corporate IR and PR are not integrated and report to different executives.
The fact that these groups remain separate is not surprising - that's been the case for a long time. What surprised me was how widespread it is. I've been a proponent of getting these two functions to collaborate for a long time. It's been a topic of conversation with clients and colleagues, at last year's NIRI conference, and many articles have been written about the benefits. We've also touched on this issue in a few podcasts with our partners at Conway Communications.
My sense was that integration was happening given the blurring of lines across audiences, but apparently it's at a much slower pace than I anticipated. At the very least I'm hoping these two groups are taking proactive steps to collaborate more on messaging and communication strategies. I was recently talking to an IRO who said he attempts to brainstorm on messaging with his boss, but given his boss is a financial executive, he feels it is less effective for him than it would be if he was strategizing with someone who had more experience with positioning and communications.
Furthermore, PR could be a useful additional resource to IR teams that are often no more than one or two people (and the survey shows IR teams remain small despite what I think is a pretty significant responsibility for shareholder and analysts communication, especially in a time when all signs point to a need for more communication rather than less). In those cases where my clients have had either integrated PR and IR, or very close collaboration, PR has taken on key responsibility for drafting materials such as earnings and transaction releases, scripts, financial presentations, Q&As, messaging documents, etc. In the end, the IRO was involved but didn't have sole responsibility and could continue to focus on the myriad other activities at hand. The result was positive for all involved.
I guess in the end, this survey gave me another reason to get on my soapbox about tearing down the silos between PR and IR. I can't figure out the downside. If there is one, please share it.