Advancing communications measurement and evaluation

April #measurePR Key Takeaways: Investor Relations and Financial Communications

The April #measurePR chat fell the Thursday before Tax Day, so founder-and-hostess Shonali Burke invited some of PR’s best financial communications professionals. Investor relations (IR) and financial communications occupy a very specialized niche of PR, and the panel provided a lot of insight into how financial comms practice varies from traditional PR. Serena Ehrlich, Keosha Burns, Erica Hurtt, Elise Perkins, and Howard Williams all joined the panel.

Shonali kicked off the chat with introductions, and then led the discussion. Below are a number of key takeaways from the chat:

  • Shonali asked the panel how investor relations and financial PR differ from traditional public relations work. The biggest difference, as several panelists noted, is the audience. Both the audience and the messaging have a business-driven focus.
  • Another difference is the requirement of subject matter expertise—but this is true in any specialized PR field focus, from the energy sector to health care.
  • One panelist noted that while general PR focuses on the business, IR focuses on the value of the company’s stock.
  • Shonali then moved on to the question of measurement, asking if it was easier or more challenging to tie measurement to business goals in IR and financial PR. This question was a tricky one to answer, as one panelist noted, it all depends on what the goals are: for associations looking to tie membership numbers to legislative wins, there’s a way to measure, but it’s difficult.
  • One panelist noted that much of his job was making sure that the right materials get into the hands of those who need them—and spurring action based on communications.
  • The question of best practices in IR and financial PR brought up measurement, along with the suggestion that a lack of measurement could end up hurting PR pros, because without it, there’s no evidence that what they are doing is really working.
  • This discussion segued into crisis communications, and how crisis communications and investor relations work are tied together: in a crisis, a publicly held company can see its stock prices fall quickly.
  • An interesting point was brought up in a subsequent question—Shonali asked about generational differences in IR and financial communications, and panelist Elise Perkins noted that the profession and target audience can skew older.
  • Another panelist pointed out that this is why audience research is important—and so is word choice. Language can be generational, and to communicate effectively, you need to use language that is relevant to your target audience.

The April #measurePR chat was an interesting and informative glimpse into a specialized field of public relations work. There was a lot more that was discussed that isn’t included in this list of key takeaways, so check out the summary and full transcript over at Shonali Burke’s blog, Waxing Unlyrical, and be sure to mark your calendars for May’s #measurePR chat, at noon Eastern on May 11, 2017. (Editor’s note: And if you’d like to learn more about the legendary Shonali Burke, read our Measurement Life interview with her.)


Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips is the Director of Marketing Communications for CARMA. She is also the founder of 4L Strategies, and has worked in communications and public affairs for more than 20 years. Her background includes work in politics, government, lobbying, public affairs PR, content creation, digital and social communications, and media analysis.
Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips
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