Q&A with Hank Boerner

HENRY “HANK” BOERNER has been editor of NIRI Publications, the publishing arm of the National Investor Relations Institute, since 2007. His primary responsibility is IR...

HENRY “HANK” BOERNER has been editor of NIRI Publications, the publishing arm of the National Investor Relations Institute, since 2007. His primary responsibility is IR Update, a monthly magazine. Prior to becoming editor, Boerner spent time as a financial journalist, served in senior communications roles for a number of organizations including American Airlines and the New York Stock Exchange, founded Boerner Communications, and served as managing partner for Rowan & Blewitt, which was acquired by Interpublic Group.

What are some of the big issues that the magazine is tackling?
Hank Boerner: There’s a lot going on in the capital markets, which we read about every day, and within corporate America, ranging from small companies up through mid-cap to large-cap, different industries and different sectors. So there is a wide range of issues and concerns that the NIRI members address every day.

What are some of the benefits of being a magazine that’s tied to a professional organization?
Boerner: It helps you to have a very clear focus. We have 2,500 companies represented in membership, just under 5,000 readers, which includes all the members. There are also subscribers who are not members; there are exchanges with other publications, and then we have comp lists with journalists.

How has the IR practice evolved in recent years?

Boerner: It started out as financial communications in a simpler era and, in fact, I had that job at American Airlines. And so we communicated with analysts and journalists. As a matter of fact, many analysts were in journalism because that’s where they learned investigative techniques.

And now with the economic tumult that we’re reading about almost on a daily basis, how does that affect the IRO’s job and the coverage in the magazine?
Boerner: Well it has certainly increased the risk! If you look at the risk profile, some people in the corporate world advance the position that the CEO is really the chief risk officer. Think about all the things that the CEO does, they manage the risk in all the different areas so any reputation slip can be disastrous. Often the IR person does not have decision-making authority over something that they must then deal with. So, for example, the board may set compensation and may have a whole program, but it’s up to the IR person, for the most part, to explain that on a day-to-day basis and to discuss it with people. So sometimes they have to argue about something and that tends to complicate their lives if it gets in the way of a good discussion of how well the company is doing in other areas. “How are sales? How’s R&D? How’s manufacturing? How’s your market share? What markets are you penetrating? What new technologies are you employing?” “[The reply is] well no… we want to talk about the CEO’s pay!” So it can be a complex assignment.

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