These are tough times for investor relations executives. First, the
market is quiet. Exciting IPOs and M&As have given way to a sour-tasting
bread and butter of profit warnings, job layoffs and CEO
But more perplexing issues, new ones for even the most seasoned players,
are resulting from Regulation FD.
It's the IR practitioner's job to sell the CEO's vision of future
trading to the Street, and as a result of Regulation FD, that means
coaxing the CEO into making much more accurate predictions about
earnings. On top of that, IR executives have to let the whole world know
if those predictions start to look off color.
What's making their job even tougher right now is that the Street is
having a tough time seeing what's around the corner.
CEOs just don't seem to know if they're still rolling downhill or
whether they've hit the bottom. As Time magazine pointed out last month,
this state of affairs has led many analysts and IR executives to overuse
the phrase "low visibility" making them sound more like meteorologists
than financial soothsayers. This, of course, gives little help to
shareholders wondering whether to stay the course.
What do you say to investors if you don't know what to say, with
economic predictions almost impossible, and valuations a lottery?
It is concerning the extent to which the usually upbeat communications
executives have abandoned any pretense of knowing what's going on. In
communications terms, such a fuzzy outlook is a nightmare. May the best
IR consultant win.