Five communication trends that will positively influence your IR efforts
1. April 2015
We recently stumbled upon an interesting read from Burson-Marsteller, a global communications and public relations agency, titled ‘The 5 C’s of Communication Trends for 2015’ that highlights connectivity, culture, consumer, creativity, and crisis as the trends to watch out for. Below is a summary of how each of these trends can play a role in your overall Investor Relations (IR) communication process, enhancing your approach to storytelling and helping you build a positive brand image.
The way that people consume content on a daily basis has drastically changed over the past ten years. The article notes that there has been an obvious shift from the use of conventional, immobile PCs, to devices like smartphones and tablets that cater to the needs of professionals on-the-go. Investor Relations Officers (IROs) should actively encourage the concept of connectivity and adopt it when communicating to their investor and analyst audience, if they aren’t already doing so. We’ve shed some light on this idea in last week’s blog post, which briefly outlined how MasterCard adopts connectivity through implementing a responsive IR website design.
Culture refers to authenticity, transparency, leadership, and corporate purpose, which are all necessary pieces of a corporate story. The article briefly states that corporate culture is quite important when communicating why a company exists and the values that drive it – beyond any profit motives though. In the IR industry, this is paramount – effectively communicating your company culture to the public (most importantly to potential and existing investors) will not only demonstrate financial benefits, but it will additionally improve your staff retention, your management, and will also prove effective during crisis management. To further illustrate, check out how Starwood Hotels & Resorts incorporates its company overview on its IR site, highlighting each of its lifestyle hospitality brands.
Knowing your customer (or, more accurately investors) is key to any IRO program. Whether you’re in the oil and energy industry, telecommunications, or the fashion industry, there’s always room to personalize your consumers’ experience when they communicate with you. As an IRO, this is essential as your investors are looking to maintain a long-term relationship with your business. Delivering personalized information to your consumer can therefore have a positive impact on your business. This personalization can be as simple as sending out email alerts with event updates for instance, or inviting your audience to tune in to your latest webcast, etc. This personalization also refers to providing access about your company’s updates, to your audience – and this is where the on-the-go aspect comes into place too, as your investors/analysts will feel that they’re always in the loop with your company news. Some other tools that IROs can include in their approach to personalization can be surveillance and analytic data, which are both great ways to learn about your audience and to further expand on personalizing information to them.
Storytelling, culture, big ideas, digital, and evidence-based measurement are all concepts to consider for your communication strategy, as outlined in the article. As an IRO, these are all significant to communicating a positive investment proposition – for both potential investors, and for retaining existing ones in the long-term. All these aspects will be translated on your IR site, as well as in your day-to-day communication with your audience. A good example of an IR site that exhibits some of these creative ideas is Live Nation Entertainment – the website is creative, adopts good digital design, and highlights financial data in their annual reports for example, thus signifying storytelling and conversing big ideas to the public.
The last communication trend for 2015 that the article refers to is crisis management – this is vital for any operating business. They refer to a 2013 Crisis Study they carried out, which suggests that 49% of companies don’t implement a crisis plan, while 50% expect to experience a crisis. In addition, their study indicated that companies are rather overwhelmed by the power of social media as they have no control over what’s shared to the public, by the public. Hence, it’s important for IROs to keep a crisis management plan handy, in line with corporate, as crisis can occur at any time due to a false interpretation made about the company or so.
All in all, what’s interesting is that some of these communication trends are being imposed by the audience themselves – so listening to them is an important piece to the puzzle. Within the realm of the IR industry, communicating an exceptional corporate culture, being creative both internally and in designing your IR website (as it is the main point of reference for your investors), as well as assimilating a top-notch crisis management plan is critical to how your investor and analyst audience perceive your overall brand.
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