The Challenges and Value of Communicating with Your Board

by Janice Essick, Regional Manager, Business Wire/Florida
Janice Essick

Janice Essick

As a first timer at the North America NIRI conference held at one of South Florida’s premier venues, the Westin Diplomat, I was overwhelmed with the level of access to experienced, knowledgeable IR experts that were open to sharing their success stories throughout their career.   As an informational resource to our clients, I thought that this session would be mutually beneficial, as I could learn how IROs also act as an internal source of knowledge to their board and share some valuable insight.

Typically, the practice of corporate IR is generally outward-focused, but this discussion spoke about importance of how internal board communications play a key role in the success of the IRO.   The panel consisted of senior level management in various industries, both from the private sector and government contracted organizations.  They offered a wealth of knowledge and shared some interesting stories, as they answered questions asked by Moderator Natalie Hairston, Vice President of Investor Relations, Chief Governance Officer & Corporate Secretary, ENGlobal Corporation.

Excellent panel of experts:

Jeffrey L. Chastain, Vice President, Investor Relations & Corporate Communications
Noble Drilling Services, Inc.

Cynthia Clayton, Vice President, Investor Relations & Corporate Communications
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals

David Dragics, Senior Vice President, Investor Relations
CACI International

Top 10 valuable tips for communicating with your board shared by the above panelists:

  1. Be brief and share few details as to why the company is performing X% up or down.
  2. Use slide presentations to provide color and commentary for the executive summary.
  3. Send an agenda item request note to board 4 weeks before meeting to have them provide their input on topics.
  4. Be prepared to conduct IR 101 discussions to new board members to define buy/sell sides.
  5. IROs should know how the company is perceived on the street and be able to share these perceptions with the board.
  6. Bring the board up to speed to understand the broader perception of funds flow.  Do not share the minutia.
  7. Share press release announcements with the board.
  8. Explain to the board why investors act a certain way – not necessarily an industry explanation.
  9. If stocks are performing well, be prepared to answer more questions and reasons why by tapping into all resources.
  10. Be careful to invite investors to board meetings.  Find out their agenda first and then make sure management (IRO) is in attendance as well.   Or hold an investor dinner with the top ranking investors and have CEO host the event.

By the end of this discussion, the message was delivered loud and clear:

The IR’s constructive involvement with his or her board is essential in helping its members make decisions regarding strategic direction of the Company that will be supported by investors and strengthen investor confidence, particularly by reducing enterprise risk.

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