NIRI conference coverage continued

As promised, I went to the section on ethics, whose featured speaker was Vaughn Harring, director of PR and media relations for MRO Software, a...

As promised, I went to the section on ethics, whose featured speaker was Vaughn Harring, director of PR and media relations for MRO Software, a company that was acquired by IBM in October 2006. He gave some tips for IRO conduct during an M&A situation, but the speech seemed light on any real discussion on ethics. His suggestions: avoid inadvertent leaks, become familiar with the faces, names, and culture at the company being acquired, keep important information among a tight circle of people, and, when you're ready to make the big announcement, "go from as secret as possible to as open as possible," starting with the internal communications. A major part of the acquisition is intellectual property and talent, so that should be a communications focus.

Another section that followed, "Developing a Coordinated Communication Strategy," was a little more interesting. Paul McMahon, senior director, corporate and marketing communications for LoJack spoke, and the crux of his presentation was getting PR and IR to work together for business success. The attendees were split pretty evenly between those with a finance background and those with PR experience.

He emphasized the role that PR played in turning around the fortunes of LoJack, which had gone from being a cutting edge company to one that was seen as dated and irrelevant. Starting with internal communications, PR and IR worked together strategically (they also brought in outside help) to get the word out to the press, industry analysts, and Wall Street that LoJack was still a company worth investing in.

Those in PR would probably think of this as elementary. Significant here is the fact that PR's importance to business outcome and investor relations work is being emphasized to IROs that are just starting out and will have lots of opportunity to use it.

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