We’ve met with plenty of companies over the years that are unsatisfied with the service they’re getting from their existing investor relations advisor (and some of them are happy clients of ours today). In many cases, they really weren’t getting great service. But all great relationships are two-way streets. So to ensure that you have the best possible relationship with your partner, keep these do’s and don’ts in mind.
Do disclose all relevant information openly. While I realize that some information needs to stay internal, remember that the more open your disclosure the better your relationship with your IR partner will be, and the better they’ll be able to help you. For example, when your IR firm drafts a press release on your behalf, they need to know more than just the topic at hand; they must also communicate how the news you’re releasing fits into your overall strategic goals. Likewise, the depth of your IR partner’s understanding of your business will crucially affect their ability to help you prepare for your earnings releases, conference calls, and key meetings.
Sometimes companies will waste time and effort struggling through an issue that their IR partner could have and should have helped them — if only they had thought to mention it. For instance, we often help our clients select a banking team based on our knowledge of which bank does specific services most efficiently and effectively. That saves clients from having unnecessary conversations with banks that don’t provide what they need.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your IR firm should be well-staffed with directors and partners who have deep experience with the IR process, communicating with Wall Street, and your industry in particular. Yet if you’re like some of the companies we’ve seen over the years, you might sometimes be a little bashful about asking your partner to help you solve a problem. Perhaps you’re embarrassed the problem exists, or maybe you’re not aware that your partner can help with it. But it’s the rare challenge that a good IR partner can’t advise you on. So don’t be afraid to ask!
Do keep yourself organized. Two keys to effective investor relations are planning and preparation. Whether you’re getting ready for an earnings call, setting your meeting schedule for an upcoming investor conference, or readying yourself for important meetings as part of a planned financing, sticking to a long-term preparation plan is vital to your success. Your partner should help you set the plan and stick to it, but organization and discipline on your part is required.
Do provide information in a timely manner. If your IR partner is going to help keep you organized, they’ll need to be told things in a timely fashion. Coming late to a discussion limits your partner’s ability to lend assistance. Of course, crisis management is one skill every good IR firm should possess but helping you avoid crisis is even more important.
Don’t forget to use all of your IR firms’ services. A good IR advisor provides more than just financing advice and day-to-day IR needs. They can help you prepare for conferences and can often attend with you to hear your pitch and see the reaction. Most of our managing directors, for instance, have sat on the other side of the table or in the audience many times, and can provide the unique insider feedback that comes with kind of experience. I’ve seen plenty of instances, in fact, when executives have tweaked their presentation immediately, delivering the updated version the very same day based on our advice, and getting better a reaction because of the change.
Your relationship with your IR partner is not unlike many intimate business (and even personal) relationships: The more you put into it, the more you get out of it. Both sides have an important role to play in managing the relationship effectively. The most important things you can do are communicate and ask for what you need. For a conversation about how we manage our client relationships, get in touch.