Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Key IR Development of 2013: CEOs Playing a Bigger Role

Over the years, the Internet has slowly but surely transformed the investor relations industry.

2013 was no different – thanks largely to social media.

Social media is the latest catalyst pushing IR beyond traditional strategies toward more effective, measurable and scalable opportunities targeting investors online.

Social is also playing a crucial role in growing IR’s strategic importance to senior corporate executives.

Look no further for evidence of this than to Zillow (ticker: Z) CEO Spencer Rascoff.

On a recent, busy earnings day, CEO Rascoff chose to allot precious time to experiment with new IR strategies to reach current and potential Zillow investors online.

He took real-time earnings call questions from Twitter and StockTwits, and also conducted a post-call interview with the Motley Fool investor community.

And he’s not alone.

The Ford (ticker: F) CFO has also been spending time after each quarterly earnings call answering questions from the StockTwits investor community, too.

What this suggests is that management teams now recognize that social media platforms are game-changers for reaching current and potential investors at scale. And with limited effort executives can assist their IR teams by offering investors greater access. Greater access and engagement builds stronger credibility and investor interest.

As we know, Zillow and Ford are two sizable companies. They have a lot to lose from experimentation. Their brand could suffer with a single social media misstep. They also have enough sell-side analyst coverage and media attention that they don’t need to be delving into social media for investor relations. But the fact is they’re choosing to do so. And I expect many more companies will follow.


Social media has forever changed IR. It’s forcing the industry to develop new strategies to court investors. It’s also hastening greater participation from top-level executives in IR efforts. Zillow and Ford are two such examples.

The challenge for IR pros is that there are many social platforms to choose from. More important, there are many social INVESTOR platforms to choose from. IR pros will have to determine how best to reach those investor communities with messages that most resonate. Each platform is unique and may require a different formula.

But as long as IR adjusts to this new era and capitalizes on the significant scalable opportunities that exist to reach current and potential investors online (especially through content marketing), this should be a golden age for IR – one that will include more and more participation from the top.

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