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Our Blog: The Podium

A Fireside Chat with NIRI President and CEO Jim Cudahy

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:

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Investor Relations Blog, SEC, Securities Law, NIRI, Speaking Engagements, Investor Relations

10 Tips for Dealing with Shareholder Activism

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.

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Board Communications, Shareholder Activism, Proxy Season, Proxy Access, Board Structure, NIRI, Shareholder Communications, Investor Relations, Activist Investors

Sharon Merrill President and Partner Maureen Wolff selected as 2014 NIRI Fellow

Sharon Merrill Associates President and Partner Maureen Wolff was selected as one of five new National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI) Fellows. NIRI Fellows are recognized leaders who represent the ideals of the investor relations (IR) profession, and have distinguished themselves on the basis of their integrity, leadership, involvement and contributions to the IR profession throughout their careers.

Sharon Merrill, Chairman and CEO of Sharon Merrill Associates said, “Maureen is extremely well deserving of this great honor by the National Investor Relations Institute. She has been a leader in the advancement of the investor relations profession for the past 30 years and an ardent supporter of NIRI. Congratulations to Maureen and the 2014 class of NIRI Fellows.”

In the NIRI announcement of the Fellows Class of 2014 , NIRI CEO Jeff Morgan said, “I am delighted to honor these five outstanding individuals who have been so important to the development of the profession and to NIRI’s success. NIRI Fellows are nominated by their peers, and represent the highest standards in the investor relations profession and in our community. We look forward to honoring them at the 2014 NIRI Annual Conference this June.”

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Awards, Sharon Merrill Associates, Investor Relations Agency, Crisis Communications, NIRI, Shareholder Communications, Investor Relations, Investor Relations Firm, Activist Investors

Sharon Merrill EVP & Partner David Calusdian Elected to NIRI Board of Directors

Sharon Merrill’s Executive Vice President & Partner David Calusdian has been elected to serve on the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI) Board of Directors. David will serve a four-year term, which began at NIRI’s annual meeting on December 4, 2013. Calusdian continues a legacy of NIRI board leadership at Sharon Merrill as agency President and Partner Maureen Wolff served on the board from 2003 – 2007.

Jeffrey D. Morgan, president and chief executive officer of NIRI had the following to say of the four NIRI members elected to serve on the board: “These four individuals are representative of so many NIRI members in their interest in advancing NIRI’s mission and in their genuine passion for the investor relations profession.”

Sharon Merrill, Chairman and CEO of Sharon Merrill Associates, said “We are proud to continue our firm’s legacy of leadership on the NIRI national board. After Maureen’s tenure on the NIRI board, culminating in her serving as Chairman, we are delighted that David is sharing his investor relations expertise as a NIRI board member. Congratulations to David and the newly elected directors.”

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Investor Relations Agency, NIRI, Investor Relations, Investor Relations Firm

The Greatest Social Media for Investor Relations Panel Ever*

By Dennis Walsh, Vice President & Director of Social Media

*Okay, so I may be biased since I was the moderator, but this panel session at the NIRI’s 2013 Annual Conference had all the elements necessary to help IR professionals develop a strategy for using social media for IR.

Attendees heard from David Urban, Director of IR at Johnson Controls; RJ Jones, IRO at Zillow; Broc Romanek, editor at TheCorporateCounsel.net; Chris DeMuth, portfolio manager at Rangeley Capital; and Sheryl Joyce VP Marketing & Communications at Q4 Websystems.


The key take away from the panel was that IR professionals should take control of or insert themselves into their company’s social media strategy. Since marketing and PR departments typically "own" social media, the challenge for IR departments is twofold: 1) ensure that all activity is compliant with public company regulations, and 2) ensure the messaging is consistent with the overall IR strategy.

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IR Program Planning, Disclosure, Reg FD, Strategic Messaging, Investor Relations Agency, IR Website, NIRI, Disclosure Policy, IRO, Speaking Engagements, Earnings Call, Social Media, Investor Relations, Investor Relations Firm, Activist Investors

Sharon Merrill Receives Awards for Investor Relations Excellence and Industry Leadership

The firm received a 2013 Bell Ringer Award from The Publicity Club of New England for an investor relations program it developed for a Fortune 500 client. The program included a highly successful investor day. The Publicity Club of New England’s Bell Ringer Awards recognize and honor excellence and achievement in the communications and public relations professions. In the past 17 years, the firm has won an award for investor relations in each of the 14 years it has entered a submission.

Dennis Walsh & Maureen Wolff
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IR Program Planning, Awards, Sharon Merrill Associates, Investor Relations Agency, NIRI, Investor Relations

Notes from a NIRI Annual Conference Attendee

By Dennis Walsh, Senior Consultant & Director of Social Media

Last week, I attended the NIRI Annual Conference. It was very educational and an incredible opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with many of the approximately 1,300 investor relations professionals from more than 20 countries that attended the event in Seattle.

NIRI organized more than 45 informative panel sessions and workshops that were led by some of IR’s top influencers. While I wanted to attend each one, unfortunately I am not omnipresent. For those that I did attend, I left with several key takeaways that can benefit any IR program and wanted to share those with you here at The Podium.

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Investor Presentation, IR Program Planning, Board Packages, Shareholder Surveillance, Disclosure, Targeting, Board Communications, Annual Meeting, Corporate Governance, Shareholder Activism, SEC, Proxy Season, Board of Directors, Proxy Access, NIRI, Disclosure Policy, IRO, CFO, Social Media, Investor Relations, Activist Investors

Achieving Nirvana for Your M&A Deal – Lessons Learned in Seattle

By Jim Buckley

At the recently concluded NIRI National conference in Seattle, I was invited to moderate a panel entitled Communicating the Deal: How IR Can Drive Success. The session featured a seasoned cast of practitioners who have successfully navigated an assortment of M&A transactions ranging from strategic purchases and spinoffs to hostile takeovers and going private. Participants were treated to valuable insights, anecdotes and lessons learned from Andrew Kramer of Interactive Data Corporation, Brian McPeak of Owens Corning, John Chevalier of Procter & Gamble and Kristy Nicholas of Expedia.

Deals have begun to pick up momentum again in recent years, with the Institute of Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances (a fabulous site if you need M&A data) estimating that there were approximately 15,000 deals in North America during 2011 amounting to $1.6 trillion. This is the equivalent of someone buying Apple, Exxon Mobil, Microsoft, Wal-Mart and General Electric – combined. Worldwide, that number rises to $5.1 trillion.

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Mergers & Acquisitions, Crisis Communications, NIRI, Speaking Engagements, Investor Relations, Activist Investors, Acquisitions

Is Your Investor Relations Plan Fit? Consider These 5 Steps.

By Dennis Walsh, Senior Consultant & Director of Social Media

As another year comes to a close, two things are probably on every IRO’s mind: New Year’s resolutions and next year’s investor relations plan. Every year, one of the most common resolutions is to get fit. People spend a tremendous amount of time and money developing new health and fitness plans to achieve that goal. This year, apply the same techniques to your IR plan in order to have a successful 2012.

Establish Achievable Goals

You may not be ready to compete in the Arnold Classic body building competition next year, but fitting into that new bathing suit by summer is certainly a realistic goal. When developing your 2012 IR plan, set equally realistic expectations. For example, expecting to grow your capitalization from a mid-cap to a large-cap in just a few months is likely an unrealistic benchmark. Instead, focus on more achievable metrics, such as meeting with a greater number of investors, attending more conferences, or increasing trading volume. Meeting these goals will support your ultimate goal of maximizing shareholder value.

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Holiday, IR Program Planning, Board Packages, Investor Relations Blog, Board Communications, Annual Meeting, Sharon Merrill Associates, Investor Relations Agency, Investor Meetings, NIRI, Investor Conference, IRO, IR Budgets, IPO, Shareholder Communications, Social Media, Small-cap IR, Investor Relations, Investor Relations Firm

How Do I Know You’re Lying? Your Body Told Me So.

5 Useful Tips for Reading Body Language in a Business Environment

By Dennis Walsh, Senior Consultant & Director of Social Media at Sharon Merrill

In business, people aren’t always completely honest. I know…stop the presses! As investor relations professionals, we are constantly playing a poker game with Wall Street. So how do you know if someone is not being completely truthful with you? Read their body language.

Nonverbal communication, or body language, often sends a different message from the spoken word. The way a person shakes hands, gestures while talking, or even crosses their legs, sends subtle but clear signals about the real meaning behind the message. Even a simple touch of the nose may indicate that a person is being untruthful.

Many Wall Street firms have hired body language experts to train analysts and portfolio managers to identify the nonverbal cues that executives give. So it’s beneficial for CEOs and CFOs to recognize these signals, to ensure they aren’t unwittingly conveying the wrong message.

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Investor Presentation, Interviews, Investor Day, Investor Meetings, Presentation Training, NIRI, Media Relations, Shareholder Communications, Roadshow Planning, Investor Relations

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Be Proactive, Not Reactive

With our new Proxy GamePlan, we create a year-round, data-driven strategic roadmap for effective shareholder engagement. Implement a best-in-class program rooted in a deep understanding of your company’s proxy practices, shareholder voting trends and peer landscape.

Learn More About  Proxy GamePlan

Find Effective IR Counsel

Whether you’re seeking external IR counsel for the first time or evaluating your current provider, you need a firm that understands your strategy, adapts to your culture and tells your story. Download our free guide on how to assess the effectiveness of an investor relations firm.

How to Assess  an IR Firm

Activism Defense

No company is immune to shareholder activism. Sharon Merrill helps boards of directors and executive management teams identify the activist red flags lurking in your shareholder base, assess your governance risks and develop an action plan to prevent, detect and neutralize any threats. Download our free white paper, “Leveraging Institutional Shareholder Relationships to Reduce Activism Risk,” and learn how the best defense against activism is a strong offense.

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Captivate your Audience

Speaking persuasively is critical in today’s competitive business environment. Effective speakers use voice techniques and body language that project authority and credibility. Download our free e-book, “A Guide to Delivering Captivating Presentations,” for insight into good -and bad- presentation habits, and learn how to improve your skills.

Become a Persuasive Speaker 

Perceptions Matter

How do you ensure that investors clearly understand your strategy, growth drivers and market position? The most effective way is through a perception study. By periodically taking the investment community’s pulse you can avoid the knowledge gaps and misperceptions that hurt valuation. Download our free whitepaper, Why Perceptions Matter, to learn more.

Why Perceptions Matter 

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