Much has been written of late about the 2016 US presidential election, the use of Twitter, misinformation, populist politics and, for the corporate world, the impact on investor sentiment and share prices for those public companies caught up in the fray by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Media reports suggested the response from corporate America was generally ‘keep your head down…’. But what about those companies directly impacted, that saw a dive in their share price, what can they do to protect their interests, reassure their investor base?
And then there are the ‘fake’ tweets, designed to intentionally cause harm, difficult to trace and source, but which nevertheless through social media take hold within minutes as being truth and create short term havoc. What can companies do to protect themselves against these occurrences?
Whether we like or not, we are entering a period where social media will be used for all kinds of ends, including ‘rattling the cage’ of the corporate world, and overall, companies are woefully unprepared to deal with this.
One of the answers must surely be communicate, communicate…. plan and prepare for what can happen and counter misinformation with a barrage of truth. Understand the role of the many available communication channels and their power to influence, and be prepared to use digital communication and even social media as a primary communication platform. Recognise that with the immediacy of social media there won’t be time for long, drawn out conference calls about the next steps, so being prepared with strong messaging is critically important.
Taking charge of your investor communications is vital. Tell your story. The strength of your investor brand and reputation will see you through the rough times. For listed companies, the challenge is nurturing a relationship with investors which helps them see a meaningful, long term investment view of the company; helps them identify short term misinformation, ‘hic-ups’ and other distortions in messages which can arise from social media; and helps a company cushion the impact of overall volatility in financial markets based on the moods and sentiments of fallible investors.
Designate believes that effective communication and corporate reputation are best achieved when there is a well-defined, overarching story, or Investor Brand. This effectively begins when the investor branding structures are clear and messages are totally aligned and consistent with the long term corporate strategy and outlook. Combine this with management, operational and financial performance and a well-articulated sustainable competitive advantage and you are well on the way to creating your company’s identifiable Investor Brand.
John has over 35 years experience in corporate public affairs and communications with listed companies, including Exxon Mobil, Caltex and Downer and provides communications consultancy for Designate clients.