Investor Relations (IR) app for iPhone, iPad and Android – theIRapp™


Investor Relations Communications in Times of a Crisis

After the United Kingdom’s decision to withdraw from the European Union, a shock wave was sent throughout the global financial markets. In times of a crisis, Investor Relations Officers must maintain a steady hand and effectively communicate their company strategy despite market conditions. While investors may reach their own conclusions on how the market may impact an individual company’s performance, IRO’s must do their best to influence this decision and control the messaging around how the market turbulence is or isn’t impacting their company. Devising both short and long term communications goals – while always a good idea – is especially important during times of crisis. Here are a few key questions to consider in formulating your messaging plan:

1. How long is the event expected to last? In the case of the Brexit vote, while a one-day occurrence, the impact of the vote on the markets may be felt for months, or even years to come.

2. How will the event impact your business relative to your peers? Is your business done globally or do you focus on certain regions? In this case, doing a lot of business in the UK will likely have a greater impact on a company’s future performance than those that operate outside of this region.

3. Why (or why not) has your short and long term business strategy changed because of this event? In many macro events and crises, a company’s strategy may not change at all, yet investors become more wary of a company’s performance. It is crucial during times of crisis to clearly explain the company’s strategy and why it has or has not changed from the last time shareholders were updated.

4. How are you communicating answers to the above to your shareholders? While certain crises are worthy of a special shareholder update press release or conference call, bigger macro events like the UK vote may not justify this level of communication. So how else are you going to get your messaging into the hands of your investors? Might it be an opportunity to try new ways of communicating to demonstrate your desire to be as transparent as possible during precarious times?

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A Tale of Two Conferences

Having just returned from two communications conferences – the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) World Conference in New Orleans and the National Investor Relations Institute’s (NIRI) Annual Conference in San Diego – I realized how large and interesting the communications industry is.  I attended the conferences in two capacities.  First, as a practitioner who has spent almost 20 years working in the public and investor relations industry.  Second, as an exhibitor showcasing our mobile communications products – theEMPLOYEEapp at IABC and theIRapp at NIRI.

While both conferences were made up of professionals from the same industry, it was amazing to see how different the personalities of the two conferences were.

At IABC, the level of interest from those who attended and their excitement in exploring the new paradigm in technology (i.e. mobile) was incredible.  They realized that an opportunity exists to connect, engage and distribute important information and content directly into the hands of their most important audience, their employees.  It was reassuring to hear the word “mobile” spoken in the same breath as “email” and “intranet.”  When you think about it, email and corporate intranets have been the main delivery mechanisms that companies have had for almost three decades to communicate with their employees.  Now there is something new – the mobile device – that allow communicators to reach their targeted audiences in an even more convenient and personal way.  The corporate communicators at IABC got it.

NIRI was a bit different.  This was our 5th NIRI conference as an exhibitor (we actually launched our company at the conference in Seattle in June 2012).  With 100 great companies as customers of theIRapp, we were no longer the new kid on the block.  Indeed, none of the exhibitors were new kids on the block.  What I witnessed was that there are those professionals who are pioneers and who are interested in incorporating new ways of communicating into their work; they get excited by doing things differently and making sure that they use all means possible to get information into the hands of their investors.   Then there are those who are reticent to try new tools; they aren’t interested in implementing new communications strategies unless their investors ask for it or they are forced to by regulation.

My overall takeaway from attending two very different communications industry conferences back-to-back?  APPrise Mobile is truly serving the needs of the broader corporate communications industry.  We have developed a solution that comes not from thinking we know the challenges they face, but having lived it ourselves.  It was great to have quality conversations about these challenges and to discuss the opportunity that now exists to more efficiently and effectively do our work.

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Title III of the JOBS Act Is Now Underway

On May 16th, Title III of the Jumpstart Our Business Startup (JOBS) Act came into law, four years after officially being passed. According to Ryan Feit, CEO of equity crowdfunding platform Seedinvest, “[i]n a nutshell this means that early stage startups and small businesses will be able to raise up to $1 million through investments as low $100 per person.”

At theIRapp and APPrise Mobile, we view this as a positive step as it allows small businesses to equity crowdfund from non-accredited investors. Of course, when dealing with smaller businesses and non-accredited investors, both parties need to be aware of the risks associated with this type of investment.

This is where communications comes into play.  From the issuer’s perspective, transparency will undoubtedly differentiate the many companies that will now be out there trying to get moms and pops to write them checks.  The company that provides the most information has the ability to convince investors as to why their business is better than the next and has the potential to grow and generate significant returns on one’s equity investment.  From the investor’s perspective, having access to information not frequently provided by smaller, private companies (e.g. an investor presentation, fact sheet, accountant compiled or audited financial statements, etc.) will go a long way towards not only building confidence in a company’s management team, but also understanding the investment opportunity at hand.

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