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Our Blog: The Podium
Corporate Governance, Investor Day, Crisis Communications, Analyst Day, Investor Relations, Corporate Communications, Transition Communication, Event Planning, Perception Study, crisis preparation, Employee Communications
Investor Days can be one of the most effective and cost-efficient activities in your IR program – but only if you’re prepared. Anyone who has worked “behind the scenes” of an investor day knows that it can be a logistical headache. You not only need to anticipate all the possible hiccups of hosting a live event, but handle the more substantive issues associated with telling your company’s story to a roomful of investors and analysts.
In the once cut-and-dry world of proxy statements, colorful communication matters more than ever before.
With shareholder activism still on the rise, and institutional investors like BlackRock and State Street, and collectives like the Investor Stewardship Group, sharpening their focus on corporate governance issues, the tick-the-box approach to proxy statements is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Many companies are moving beyond the traditional black & white “legalese,” paragraph-heavy proxy statement and taking a more innovative, communications-focused approach to improve transparency, defend against activism, and better engage with shareholders.
New disclosure rule presents an “apples and oranges” problem
As any communication veteran knows, every corporate “happening” creates a messaging opportunity. That is certainly the case with the impending round of pay-ratio disclosures. Starting this year, under an SEC amendment to Regulation S-K, which stemmed from a provision in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, most U.S. public companies will need to disclose the total annual compensation of their “median” employees, along with the ratio of that figure to the total compensation of their chief executive officers. Based on preliminary estimates, the highest ratios could exceed 350 to 1.
The Sharon Merrill team would like to welcome 2018 with our rendition of a new year's classic.
May last year’s losses be forgot,
And profits maximized,
The market’s soaring to new heights,
New tax plans emphasized
For all this crazy year has brought,
This insanely wacky year,
The folks on Wall Street don’t seem to mind,
Since investors have no fear
When faced with a crisis, even senior IR executives can benefit from an outside perspective, particularly when that perspective is based on years of experience. In the following conversation, David Calusdian, president at Sharon Merrill Associates, discusses crisis management issues and the most effective strategies to protect corporate reputation and credibility.
Q: Can you share some recent examples of your crisis communications work, to give readers a sense of the many issues that can ensnare a public company, and discuss how you solve them?
A: Today the potential for a crisis lurks in any piece of market-moving information that originates from somewhere other than the company. It could be a social media post about an impending management shakeup, an FDA product recall or a data breach. The potential scenarios are endless, but an effective response shares a few common themes:
The Equifax data breach, which affected some 143 million people, is just the latest high-profile incident reported by a large corporation. Verizon announced that 14 million customer accounts were exposed; Bell Canada said the data of 19 million customers was hacked; education platform Edmodo said the data of millions of its 78 million users were sold on the dark web. And Yahoo’s 2013 data breach reached epic proportions this month, when it announced all 3 billion customer accounts were hacked in that attack four years ago.
The good news -- and there is good news -- is that companies are stepping up their efforts to protect data. Ten years ago, information security was seen chiefly as an IT topic. Now, it has been elevated to the status of a strategic boardroom issue. I attend a monthly meeting of corporate board members, and at nearly every event there is discussion about cybersecurity and how to prepare – at the board level –for cyberattacks.
There’s a saying in the IT world: There are two kinds of companies, those that know they’ve been attacked, and those that don’t know they’ve been attacked. With that in mind, here are five critical things every company can do to prepare for a cyber crisis.
A $1 million privately owned software company with double digit sales growth and an active new product pipeline is blindsided when its largest customer abruptly switches to an emerging competitor; company revenues drop 20% and private funding for next expansion is at risk.
A $500 million diversified industrial company is successfully executing against its strategy to drive growth via acquisition and is surprised when several top sales performers abruptly leave the company because they are disconnected from the corporate strategy and vision; core business takes a hit.
You probably have heard your CEO or a member of the board expound on the need to have a succession communications plan. (Perhaps you have been the one doing the expounding.) And it’s true: public companies should put significant thought into how they will communicate the transition of a C-level executive or board member. But usually, that’s where the conversation ends.
More often than not, communications professionals walk away from these discussions wondering what goes into the plan. With that in mind, today we discuss the five essential elements of a successful succession communications plan.
- Make the plan
As soon as you know your board is conducting a CEO search, create a detailed timeline that will keep your succession communications on track. Name each task with the target completion date and the name of the person or people responsible for implementation. List all the materials that are necessary for the
When many management teams contemplate the quarterly earnings cycle, they think primarily about compliance – dotting the “i”s and crossing the “t”s. But while compliance is a major driver of financial disclosure, it should not be the only one – if it were, companies would file the 10-Q or 10-K and leave it at that. Take a more strategic approach to your next earnings cycle with these five tips.