Comms takes on deeper role to accommodate a constantly changing, global stakeholder base
When NYSE Group acquired Paris-based Euronext earlier this year, the multibillion-dollar deal produced the first trans-Atlantic equity market. Today, NYSE Euronext includes six cash equities exchanges in five countries and six derivatives exchanges in six countries, with a $30.8 trillion total market capitalization of listed companies and average daily trading value of $127 billion.
The NYSE Euronext communications team, headed by Margaret Tutwiler, EVP, manages the corporate reputation and brand of the exchange's various product and business lines.
Shareholders have become more important, and what was a mostly US domestic constituency is now a global stakeholder base, says Christiaan Brakman, director of media relations. Brakman reports to Rich Adamonis, SVP.
"We have to find ways to meet the communications needs of all our constituents," he says. "As the world's leading exchange, we are the poster child of the industry. Not only do our internal and external constituents often have different or conflicting agendas, [but] our constituents are also changing."
Brakman's team is also charged with trafficking communications between the exchange and its listed companies on technology enhancements - whether it's a request to have direct, electronic access to trading and ownership data, or a request for electronic filing systems that comply with corporate governance more efficiently.
"So, we built these systems, and then it's up to us in communications to highlight such initiatives so customers are aware," Brakman says. "But then, of course, our competitors find out and build something similar, so we have to renew, reinvent, and update all the time."
This never-ending pursuit of squeezing every bit of efficiency out of the supply chain has Brakman likening NYSE Euronext to one of its listed companies.
"In many ways, we are the Wal-Mart of stock exchanges," he says.
Along with its corporate PR role, the media relations team is responsible for listings-related PR. These services - part of the fee companies pay to be listed - include arranging media and visibility programs to enable debuting companies to target the New York, US, and global financial/trade media.
It also involves access to the on-site broadcast center, which serves more than 20 in-house broadcast stations, including CNBC, CNN, and Bloomberg, as well as the anchors of smaller influential broadcast operations, such as 1010 WINS, CNBC India, China's Phoenix Satellite TV, and Al Jazeera.
"Most important is the attention to detail," says Annmarie Gioia, NYSE media relations specialist. "You need to plan, minute by minute, and not leave anything to chance. Of course, things change, but having that plan in place is what keeps you on track."
In addition to the company's listing, Lynn Liddle, Domino's Pizza EVP of communications, has worked with representatives from the exchange on two IPOs, a secondary offering, and several other media events.
"Not a lot of people know you can use the exchange for commercial purposes, and it really is often a guaranteed media hit," she says. "You can book meeting spaces, access media, take clients on tours of the exchange, [and] hand out samples on the floor."
The department has a long history, though it's been more noticeable since the mid-1990s, when Dick Grasso was appointed chairman and CEO, and the exchange, driven by its PR department, started highlighting the daily bell-ringing ceremonies as a major publicity event for listed companies and visiting dignitaries, Brakman says.
With only two chances to ring the bell per day, there is plenty of jostling for position. The first bell is reserved for listings and IPOs, with the closing bell saved for anniversaries and product promotions.
"We... do the best to accommodate," says Allison Circle, media relations specialist. "Some companies book months, even years in advance."
Spectra Energy president Fred Fowler rang the opening bell on January 3 to mark the company's spin-off from Duke Energy.
"They have the logistics down to a science, so it seems they could probably do it in their sleep," says Molly Boyd, VP of communications for Spectra. "They make you feel like you are the only one to ever do it."
As various exchanges consolidate, Brakman expects that ultimately there will be only a handful of large, global exchanges, "of which we'd like to be the leading one," he notes, and many smaller, local exchanges.
Brakman sees the role of communications increasing rather than decreasing, facilitating growth and absorption, while focusing on meeting the needs of listed companies trying to communicate exchange-related events in a crowded market.
At a glance
CEO and director:
Revenues and latest earnings:
Announced August 2 that Q2 profit more than doubled as the European exchanges contributed to earnings for the first time
Key Trade Titles:
The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Financial Times
Margaret Tutwiler, EVP
Rich Adamonis, SVP
Christiaan Brakman, media relations director
Annmarie Gioia, media relations specialist
Allison Circle, media relations specialist