Investor Relations has never been very social. Think about IR at a party. Shy, cautious, cowering next to the Ficus Tree in the corner – scanning the room looking to catch the eye of an unsuspecting party-goer for a long and boring conversation about dividend re-distribution. Oh. Wait… what I am saying… IR would never be invited to a party.
The party is happening. And IR is invited whether they want to go or not. The party is online, and the dialogue is taking place through social media. OK, there usually aren’t cocktails, cocktail weenies and bedazzled shirts at this party – but there is plenty of engaging dialogue.
Rather than leave social media to the ‘marketing team’, the party goers with the lamp shades on their heads, Investor Relations needs to embrace the social media tools available to them. While the annual report has become less of a marketing exercise over the last 10 years, and more of a compliance requirement, that does not mean that distribution of a public company’s financial information needs to be restricted to just direct mail sent to shareholders, webcasts of updates and materials posted to their website. Like any marketing exercise, it is those companies that find innovative ways to stand out can generate additional buzz.
And why wouldn’t public companies want to share their financial info with a larger audience of engaged stakeholders. There is a constant struggle to find ways to engage institutional investors and other influential audiences. To date it has been who has the best lunch & learn sandwiches, the sweetest hockey tickets… and while those tactics can work, there is another way to engage this audience. We know they are online. We know there are tailored social media tools specific to this audience (ie. Stocktwits.com), and through monitoring we know that conversations are happening about your brand – conversations that can influence stock price and steer speculation. Through tools like this, and optimizing searchability to make your company more easily found, public companies have the ability to broadcast their message in a way that just wasn’t possible before.
ZGM sees this opportunity. We have developed an Investor Relations Social Launchpad. Sure we can design your annual report – but we realize our responsibility is more than that. We want to ensure this information is accessed by the right audience, an audience you may have had trouble getting in front of in the past (and not just annually). Our goal is to help public companies optimize their investor relations material to make it as accessible as possible – this means sharing enabled, mobile friendly, and yes, a customized social media strategy. These communications tools & strategies are not going away, and we see it as our mission to shepherd cautious IR folks into the social world and let them see the increased opportunities of sharing their message with a much broader set of stakeholders. After all, you never know which conversation at a cocktail party will turn out to pay off at a future date.