SOURCE: Marketwire


October 14, 2010 16:22 ET

Marketwire and IR Magazine Partner at Fall IR Magazine Think Tanks

Senior-Level Investor Relations Officers Share Perspectives on New Legislation, Social Media and Communication Strategies

TORONTO--(Marketwire - October 14, 2010) -  For the sixth year in a row, Marketwire partnered with IR magazine to present a series of invitation-only think tanks at which senior-level investor relations professionals shared best practices and discussed key issues facing them as 2010 draws to a close. Two were first-time venues -- Chicago (Midwest Think Tank), September 28 and Houston (Energy Think Tank), October 7. Along with Toronto (Canada Think Tank), September 30, the events attracted attendees from diverse industries who shared common issues related to the impact of new legislation, the growth of social media and how best to quantify and report on their efforts. Marketwire continued with its Ask the Expert segment, giving participants the opportunity to share their insights and offer advice to new investor relations professionals.

Think Tank Highlights


For many investor relations officers (IROs), the uptake and spread of social media has stalled, and the practice of web disclosure still poses more risk than reward. Apparent to all IROs, however, is the need to monitor stakeholder activity in social networks and keep an eye on discussions among investors, analysts and other parties online.

  • Directly and indirectly, these conversations, can -- and are -- affecting company share price and corporate reputation. Unfortunately, not all of what's said is accurate. If companies are not monitoring in those discussions, they are missing the opportunity to correct erroneous information and better inform and engage their stakeholders. 
  • Sixty-five percent of portfolio managers say they monitor social media, and half of them say it affects their investment opinions. Some IROs use it to monitor their own companies. Many IROs say they are apprehensive of incorporating social media into their practice because they fear they will violate Reg FD.


IROs are increasingly embracing and leveraging online solutions in their outreach strategies, and webcasting, virtual road shows, social media newsrooms and other Web-based communications are becoming an integral part of the investor relations toolkit. But, like communicators in other disciplines, today's IRO is presented with a mix of difficulty and opportunity when it comes to managing outreach and building relationships with target audiences.

  • There are so many channels and opportunities for stakeholder engagement, and no "one size fits all" plan to effectively reach everyone with the right messages. What's more, traditional investor communications like news releases, analyst days, and advertising continue to play a vital role. A hybrid approach to investor relations, one that aligns online and offline strategies often proves to be the most successful.
  • What does the buy side value in IROs? Industry knowledge and exposure to the planning process -- not just a reiteration of what the CEO says. The IRO should be intricately involved in planning and have his or her own thoughts on the industry and company knowledge -- not just data points. If a company puts out a press release, the IRO should be prepared to provide insight into the story behind it.
  • It's daunting for the IRO to keep track of shares when 70 to 75 percent of trading is high frequency, with the same shares being traded over and over. Since the trend toward high-frequency trading continues, the IRO should recognize that he or she can't control it but should focus on getting as much information on the trades as possible (e.g., via Yahoo! Finance, Thomson Reuters), attract the best investors they can and educate their senior management.


With the adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) on the immediate horizon in Canada, IROs have an incredible communication opportunity and should get involved in the transition within their company from the very beginning.

  • IFRS is not just an "accounting issue," but is something that affects the entire company, its operation and practice, and how the company is perceived by investors in Canada and around the world.
  • IROs who get involved in the transition early not only understand the process and what the standard will mean to the company, but they are able to communicate that understanding to internal and external audiences.
  • By becoming the "IFRS advocate" within the organization, the IRO can be a strong and clear voice who's able to liaise with and educate the street, and even the business and financial press.


Recent legislation that intends to further promote transparency and accountability among US companies include the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act signed into law in July 2010 as well as new SEC rules. Several aspects of these reforms affect the jobs of the IRO.

  • In order of impact on corporations, the top four corporate governance issues today are majority voting, securities lending, "say on pay" and proxy access.
  • It's critical for IROs to establish good relationships with the top shareholders to determine the voters on proxy shares and to ensure that shareholder communication is clear, especially as it relates to a company's complex governance policy.


Last October, the SEC issued internal guidance regarding environmental risks. IROs should become aware of new rules and trends related to social responsibility because shareholder proposals sometimes ask companies to disclose risks associated with the environment and climate (e.g., climate change/greenhouse gas/water scarcity/human rights).

  • Most investors in the US don't ask corporate social responsibility questions, and those who consider social responsibility before they invest are still in the minority, but tend to be vocal. Europe is decades ahead of the United States for investor social responsibility mandates, and some investor groups have all of their holdings related to corporate social responsibility.
  • Will socially responsible investors ever take a meaningful role in the United States? That remains to be seen. Currently, most of the concerns are social-advocacy related, not investment-related. High-profile incidents like the BP oil spill, however, present case studies for corporations to ensure their "own houses" are in order.
  • Spill-contingency and compensation plans are part of a company's safety strategy that involves risk disclosure and oversight. Who is telling the company's story? Will it lead to loss of reputation? One of the functions of the IRO is storytelling, and he or she should impart what's happening in the company on social and environmental fronts.

Investor Relations "Ask the Expert" Quotes
Marketwire asked participants at IR magazine's Midwest, Canada and Energy Think Tanks to offer their opinions on general business issues impacting the investor relations officer:

Discusses social media to support investor relations:

  • Sandeep Mahindroo, Senior Manager, Investor Relations, Infosys Technologies

    "Whatever updates we make on our IR website, we automatically extend into social media pages -- in a way, the social media pages are an extension of our IR website. I think that the advantage to investors is that they don't have to listen to an entire earnings call -- they can go to our Twitter page and read the top 15 or 20 tweets."

Offers advice for new investor relations professionals:

  • Eleanor Bloxham, CEO, The Value Alliance Company

    "My advice relates to getting the directors on the board to participate in investor relations. Set up the process so there's time for the directors to provide input for the major filings -- the proxy, the 10K, the annual report."
  • Rob Kukla, Director of Investor Relations, KBR

    "Don't get frustrated early. Investor relations is a completely different role within the company. It will be quite a bit different than others and can be overwhelming and frustrating, but you'll eventually get there and realize what you're doing."
  • Jennifer Davis, Director, Investor Relations, Pfizer

    "My first piece of advice would be to engage the buy side. You can provide your senior management a lot of information about what investors are thinking beyond what's published in sell-side reports."
  • Monica Schafer, Director of Investor Relations, RRI Energy

    "I would say to consider your audience and to really focus your message on what they want. Am I answering the question properly? Am I giving them the answers that are going to help them -- but also am I staying in line with a message that I want to communicate and stay in line with the law?"

Tells us what keeps him up at night:

  • Marc Greene, Managing Director, IPRIO

    "I think the same things that make investor relations exciting and a tremendous career to be involved in are probably the same things that keep me up at night."

Discusses proactive investor relations:

  • Jim Grant, Investor Awareness, Peyto Exploration & Development Corp.

    "Whenever we have new information, or a new way to display information for our investors, we have a commitment to keep it going. Once you put information out there, people rely on it and really want to see it all the time."


Marketwire offers a variety of services to help IR professionals communicate effectively with their audiences, including the Social Media 2.0 US and North America full-disclosure press release options and the Easy IR workflow solution for news distribution to the financial community. For more information on all of Marketwire's communication and news distribution solutions, please call 800-774-9473.

About IR magazine and IR magazine Conferences
Published in New York and London by its parent company, Cross Border, IR magazine is the only global publication focused on the interface between companies and their investors. IR magazine conferences provide the worldwide IR audience with a forum for discussion, information and communication. They are an opportunity for IR professionals to educate themselves about new industry services, network with others in the industry and get practical advice from a wide range of experts. For more information, please visit

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