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Our Blog: The Podium

Keeping the Activists at Bay: Five Steps to an Effective Response Plan

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.

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Targeting, Wall Street, Shareholder Activism, Investor Meetings, Buy-Side, Proxy Season, Proxy Fight, Crisis Communications, STREETSCOPE, IRO, CFO

Think Like a Politician: Use Investor Perception Audits as a Strategic Advantage

In politics, there is an age-old debate as to whether elected leaders should vote according to the wishes of their constituents, or vote their conscience as the people’s representative. We have seen politicians criticized for using polling too extensively to guide policy (see Bill Clinton) -- and not enough (see Barack Obama). When I worked as a political consultant prior to entering the IR profession, we used polling to gauge the electorate’s opinions on a certain issue – not to change policy, but to determine what audiences need focused communication and how messaging should be used to address misperceptions. And this is exactly how IR practitioners should use our own version of polling – the investor perception audit.

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed about investor perception audits by Broc Romanek of TheCorporateCounsel.net. The podcast is available here. An investor perception audit is a survey of a company’s capital markets audiences – past, current and potential institutional investors as well as sell-side analysts. Typically conducted by a third-party via telephone to protect anonymity, the perception audit usually includes questions about the company’s strategy, prospects for growth, communications, management strengths, and catalysts for investors to purchase stock, among others. Think you already know what they perceive about your company? Certainly, investors and analysts are usually not shy about voicing their opinions. However, many companies are often surprised at the feedback they receive when investors are not speaking face-to-face with management.

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IR Program Planning, Board Packages, Strategic Messaging, STREETSCOPE, Perception Audit, Shareholder Communications, Investor Relations

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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.

Download Activist Defense White Paper

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.

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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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