LPP Exec Named to NIRI Boston; Better Relationship with IR Benefits Clients
Curious over the relationship between public relations and investor relations, I sat down with the agency's foremost expert on the topic, Christine Simeone, executive vice president at LPP, who was named to the Boston Chapter of the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI Boston) for the 2012-2013 operational year. Simeone is joining the 12 member board, taking a seat at the table as a Membership Committee co-chair.
Simeone, who started at LPP 18 years ago, has been active with NIRI Boston for a decade now, having decided long ago that public relations and investor relations need to work more closely together.
"IR and PR should be working hand in hand," Simeone said. "I'm amazed that more often than not there's a loose or non-existent connection between the two."
While Simeone concedes that investor relations and public relations audiences have different interests, she reasons that both arms are external communicators for corporations, and therefore should be working in unison to develop and deliver messaging that is mutually beneficial and consistent.
"I don't see a downside for a company if PR and IR are working together," she stated.
It was close to 15 years ago that Simeone decided it would be valuable for her and her clients if she learned more about IR. As she was working with a client on earnings messaging and delivering news about an acquisition, she realized there were aspects related to the investor messages that she didn't completely understand. To begin to educate herself, she took a class at Simmons College on Investor Relations.
That education led to more interest in understanding IR's audience and how PR and IR could help each other. Simeone discovered NIRI Boston and began attending meetings and connecting with several resident IR experts. Since then she's been bringing this added context to her publicly-held clients and those on the IPO track, and at the same time pushing her personal agenda to bridge the gap between both groups.
Her agenda was validated soon after when she witnessed firsthand the downside of a lack of communications between IR and PR. She had been working with a reporter at the Wall Street Journal on a story for a client. Because there was no regular communication between the clients' PR and IR teams, only the PR team was aware of the coming positive article pointing to the company’s success in the first six months after a new strategy and major new product were introduced. The night before the article was to run, Simeone received a phone call from her client letting her know the client just learned the company would pre-announce its quarter before market the next day due to lagging demand for the new product,among other things. The article that was three months in the making appeared at the same time as this news broke and was an embarrassment for the WSJ’s reporter, as well as for Simeone and the clients’ PR and IR teams, all who looked completely disconnected.
Karen Warren, a former IRO for Hasbro, Inc., and Simeone’s teacher at Simmons, has long understood the need for a symbiotic relationship between IR and PR, even if the two sides don’t realize that need.
“There are multiple reasons why people from IR and PR don’t share information,” said Warren. “But the marriage of the two is necessary.”
She went on to cement Simeone’s belief that “you cannot do the best for the company” if one arm of the company doesn’t know what the other is doing.
In welcoming Simeone to its board, NIRI Boston validates the need for IR to better understand PR and vice versa. Martha Schaefer, director of Investor Relations at SeaChange International, Inc., and president of NIRI Boston, said she and the director of PR at her company have a weekly meeting to understand what each other’s departments are working on, what is coming up and how it will be communicated to their specific audiences.
“We’re both carrying a message and we’re both charged with building an image of our company to the outside world,” she said. “We’re taking those messages to different audiences, but we need to know what each other is saying.”
Schaefer stressed it is critical for both sides to be in immediate contact should a crisis communications situation arise. If and when it does, the first step is for the two parties to get in a room and hammer out what the company message will be, how each other’s audiences will view the messaging and how they will receive it.
Simeone added, "I joined NIRI to get smarter about what and how IR needs to communicate and to look for ways to partner with my IR colleagues so we are both telling a clear and consistent story. I continue to believe strongly in the value of the collaboration and most importantly that without IR and PR working together, a company can be missing a communications opportunity."
For more information on the 2012-2013 Board of Directors, please see today's announcement from NIRI Boston.