The watertight case that will keep investor relations from going it alone

Jason Sumner. Jason is a white man with very short dark hair, a short beard and glasses. He is wearing a light jacket and shirt. Jason Sumner

Your investor relations (IR) colleagues want to keep their separate website and they are digging in. The way they see it, they own the communications with investors, and the relationships, so they should have full ownership of digital too. And the legal department says it sleeps easier if there’s a separate IR site, hosted by a third party

This causes any number of problems for you, as the person who is responsible for the company’s main digital presence. One of our American clients termed this issue “seceding from the union”, which sums it up nicely. It’s a real headache.

The question is how do you convince everyone that this is a problem worth tackling, and that you, IR, the rest of the organisation, and your stakeholders are better off joined up with one platform, one CMS and one unified set of messages?

I’ve pulled together the key elements of a watertight case, based on hard facts and solid incentives, with arguments so strong that even the IR team can’t ignore them. (The fact that you are just plain nice people in corporate digital, and great to work with, is the icing on the cake.)

Audience data says you are better together

If you don’t have your own audience data, feel free to use ours, because it tells a persuasive story. The top-line benchmark data from our database of corporate website visitor surveys shows that investor audiences (institutional investors, analysts and individual shareholders) do not only visit the Investors section. One quarter of investor visitors also went to products sections, and one quarter visited the “About us” section; 12% went to media and 8% also visited the sustainability section. Not only that, but the traffic goes the other way too – non-investor audiences such as journalists and jobseekers check the financial numbers too – it turns out that investor relations is communicating with more people than just investors!

Duplication is a serious waste of resources

Doubling up work is costly from the technology side and the content side. One of the worst examples that I’ve seen recently is Netflix’s two sets of biographies across their “About” site and their separate investor site. Yes, the words all seem to match up, but I feel sorry for whoever has to keep these two websites in sync. If you quantify the resources involved it should be persuasive for IR, but if it isn’t, this is an argument that definitely resonates with bosses.

You can make their lives easier with digital IR best practice

Show IR you are here to help, not to tell them what to do. Digital investor communications is its own specialism, with common pitfalls, dos and don’ts. The best companies for serving investors in the Bowen Craggs Index right now are Shell, BP and HSBC. I’m sure you could find lots of gaps between your company and the best in the Index, which the IR team can accept or not (but why wouldn’t they) proving your worth as digital specialists.

You are all undermining the company’s one-brand strategy

Every company wants to present one brand message to the world. No matter how big the gap is on both sites between the look and feel, the platform, the tone of voice and the way you talk about yourselves, you are undermining the company’s reputation, and confusing visitors. If you are lucky enough to have a line to the C-suite, this is another argument that resonates with executives.

All is not lost

Even strongest cases sometimes fall short, and if you end up with separate sites, it isn’t the end of the world. Capgemini scores very well in the Bowen Craggs Index for serving investors, in spite of its investors area being on a different URL, so it can be done.

If that’s the situation you’re in, integrate the experience as much as you possibly can; at least you know you are doing your best for your visitors, and you can fight the internal battle another day.

To discuss how Bowen Craggs can help you address this, and other challenges, please get in touch.