IR-PR link not seen in chain of command

NEW YORK: In the face of rosy reports to the contrary, a joint study by Investor Relations Business and Business Wire has found that 71% of companies have not consolidated their IR and PR functions, despite what the magazine called a higher risk of inadvertent selective disclosure due to uncoordinated marketing efforts. The survey polled 259 people.

NEW YORK: In the face of rosy reports to the contrary, a joint study by Investor Relations Business and Business Wire has found that 71% of companies have not consolidated their IR and PR functions, despite what the magazine called a higher risk of inadvertent selective disclosure due to uncoordinated marketing efforts. The survey polled 259 people.

However, IR and PR people at some top companies claim they maintain constant contact.

"I think a well-run company has a tight PR and IR process, recognizing that they are two sides to a coin,

UPS' Kurt Kuehn, VP of IR, told PRWeek.

He added that he interacts with people in the UPS PR department every day, and described the two functions as "very tightly linked."

In the study, 13% of linked companies said their PR and marketing departments both report to the head of IR. At 16% of companies, IR supervises PR, and 7% of IR officers report to the head of corporate communications.

The Council of PR Firms is working on its own study on best practices in reporting relationships. The hypothesis the study will try to prove, according to Sarah Drennan, VP of council operations, is the importance of access to top management. But Drennan said an IR reporting relationship was not bad.

"It seems a more natural link than HR or marketing, since most would agree that IR is a corporate communications function,

said Drennan. "Of course, our profession may have more impact if that reporting relationship were reversed, with IR reporting to the chief communications officer."

The IR function still remains thinly staffed, though. PRWeek research found the average PR staff at corporations is eight people. But 43% of those surveyed said their company had one IR staffer, close to half reported two to four people, and 4% said the IR role was either a shared position (handled by the CFO or another officer on an ad-hoc basis), or farmed out to an IR consultant. Just 6% said their company had five or more IR staff. Three in four companies handle IR entirely in-house.

THE CONVERGENCE OF IR AND PR

35% of companies have combined IR and PR

33% of respondents "completely agree

that their company has successfully consolidated IR with other communications functions

78% of IR officers think the analyst and media communities hold them in higher regard then they do PR executives

90% of respondents said the IR department consisted of one to four people

75% of companies handle the IR function entirely in-house 56% of IROs report directly to their company's CFO

75% of respondents were at least reasonably comfortable that all communications departments within their companies had a thorough understanding of Reg FD

83% of respondents said senior executives at their companies attached more importance to their roles as a result of widening coverage of IR issues

Source: Investor Relations Business and Business Wire.

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