This article by Peter Crow, in which he describes the essentiality of alignment between company Boards and senior management, struck a chord.
Without a doubt, misalignment between senior management and the Board of Directors is one of the biggest hindrances to adopting and implementing progressive investor relations.
Management tends to have a better understanding of what effective communication with digital communities looks like, but Boards don’t.
The Board is not as hands on, whilst management is in communication with the marketing team and has a better view of what’s involved in an organisation’s digital marketing work.
So the latter may have some idea of what’s involved in sending out email alerts, or the advantages of posting financial results and earnings presentations on your corporate website.
*Data as at 21 January 2021
But even so, management may not fully comprehend the digital strategy, or what goes into developing effective practices. The effects of this are often seen when times are tough and the company budget is stretched – marketing budgets almost always shrink because it’s not seen as a priority.
At Board level on the other hand, the feedback is oftentimes, “Why should we spend more on our digital strategy? We’ve already got a website.”
Clearly, there’s a disconnect between understanding the need for impactful corporate communications, and opinions on how to achieve that.
And if you’re going to implement a strategy for maximum effectiveness, alignment between the Board and management is essential.
As Peter Crow notes, “If a Chief Executive acts against the direction of the board (or without the board’s knowledge), or if a board is disunited over a strategically important matter (purpose or strategy, especially), company performance (however measured) will inevitably suffer.”
Clearly, you’ll need to assess the views of company leadership as it relates to different aspects of your digital strategy:-
- Do they think that a dedicated investor relations programme is necessary?
- What do they view as the most important outcomes or pressing issues to address as it relates to corporate communications?
- Should marketing be prioritised when the budget is set?
Getting ‘the lay of the land’ in this way is critical, because assuming that everyone is on the same page, or conversely that people have completely conflicting ideas, is a dangerous approach to take.
But how can you do that in a way that enables each member to ‘voice their opinions’ without fear of blowback?
One of the most effective ways to get this information is by using anonymous online surveys with a service like Google Forms or SurveyMonkey. If every director and member of management submits their answers online:
- You’ll get complete, instant responses, all in one place
- The data can be analysed, and you can be sure that you have a holistic and accurate idea of the views and opinions of the most important actors or stakeholders
- The survey is not generic – it’s perfectly tailored to the needs of your organisation and the important items to get consensus on
From here, a conversation can be had to address disparity of opinion, and a decision on the way forward laid out.
If you’re looking to go one step further, take a look at the Minimum Standards of Online Investor Relations, written to help enable alignment between the Board and management. This free resource contains concise, actionable insights to inform stakeholders of some of the most basic elements to consider when developing a digital investor relations strategy.