When it comes to corporate governance, board members and shareholder activists do not often agree. But there is at least one opportunity for common ground: better communication.
Our Blog: The Podium
When you do work in crisis communications, you’re often asked to share war stories alongside other communications professionals on conference panels. The cases that are analyzed run the gamut of private and public companies, from small start-ups to large multinationals, in industries from consumer goods and high tech to pharmaceuticals and financial organizations. But there are consistent themes that typically rise from these discussions.
“Somebody’s Watching Me”
In the age of social media, somebody is watching every move that companies and their employees make. And more and more frequently, they are reporting their findings and opinions as fast as Twitter and Facebook will allow. Social media are not only accelerating the pace that information is being delivered but reshaping the entire communications landscape. In today’s crisis situation, anyone and everyone can now add their opinion into the conversation at a moment’s notice.
Global merger and acquisition activity set an all-time high last year, breaking the previous record set in 2007. According to an EY survey in October 2015, 59% of executives planned to actively pursue acquisitions in the coming 12 months. Given that this number is significantly higher than the 40% reported in the survey a year ago, we very well could see another record-breaking year for M&A in 2016.
The new reality is that no public company, no matter how highly regarded or well managed, is immune from activist attention. The number of activist campaigns waged against public companies increased in 2015 to 375 according to the research firm FactSet.
Once an activist surfaces, every move a company makes can have a profound and cascading effect on its long-term viability. Therefore, it is essential to craft response plans before any sign of danger emerges.
Whenever I speak about properly communicating a CEO transition, I talk about the importance of having a plan. But not all companies undergoing a management change have the advantage of foresight. So let’s discuss them both: the transitions that are well-planned, thoughtful and strategic, and those that must be managed on the fly. Here are three things to remember before your company changes CEOs, no matter the reason.
I moderated a fireside chat with NIRI’s new President and CEO, Jim Cudahy, as part of NIRI Boston’s 2015-2016 Season Kickoff Event last week. We talked about the state of IR today, and what we can expect from NIRI in the year to come. Here’s what he told us:
In this three-part conversation, Sharon Merrill President and Partner Maureen Wolff shares insights on the IPO process from an investor relations perspective. In our final installment, we discuss the next steps a company should take after becoming public.
The Podium: Hello, Maureen. Thank you for joining us again. In today’s discussion, we will focus on the actions companies should take after the initial public offering has priced. We imagine there is much to accomplish.
MW: There certainly is. Hopefully, at this point, a newly public company already has completed the many messaging and infrastructure tasks we discussed in our previous conversations. Those items include having in place a completed IR website, corporate communications policy and training in public company employee protocol, Regulation FD and public speaking. Other items include selecting vendors for various investor relations activities, such as IR website hosting and news distribution.
In this three-part conversation, Sharon Merrill President and Partner Maureen Wolff shares insights on the IPO process from an investor relations perspective. In this second conversation, we discuss preparing for life as a public company after the registration statement has been filed.
In this three-part conversation, Sharon Merrill President and Partner Maureen Wolff shares insights on the IPO process from an investor communications perspective. In this initial conversation, we discuss preparing for life as a public company before the registration statement has been filed.
The Podium: Why do some companies start preparing for an IPO well in advance?
MW: Planning for an IPO in advance actually leads to a much smoother process and greater success after the IPO. Because the registration process is so intensive and time-consuming, it’s a really good idea to begin thinking and acting like a public company before filing the S-1, S-11 or other relevant registration statement. When you look at the IPOs that have made smooth transitions to the public markets, they are most often those that began the long-term transformation to being a public company very early on.
By Maureen Wolff, President and Partner, Sharon Merrill Associates
For many companies, a looming activist shareholder is no longer the exception – it’s the rule. Activist shareholders had launched 495 campaigns targeting U.S. companies through November 2016, according to FactSet SharkRepellent. And as of the end of November, the number of proxy fights for board seats was at its highest level since 2009, at 101 contests.
The threat of activist investors encircling your company can be intimidating - unless you understand how to engage, respond and communicate. Here are 10 strategies to help you prepare.