Ketchum Panel Looks at What New Legislation, Transparency Mean for IR/PR

Wondering what the new corporate governance regulations mean to you? Ketchum took the issue on in a recent webinar titled Governance Matters: A Briefing on New Corporate Governance Regulations.
Rob Flaherty, Ketchum president and managing director of the agency’s global corporate practice, laid out the pieces of the issue most relevant to the corporate communications community in a recent panel, and charged listeners with understanding the new regulations’ implications as well as the vulnerabilities they create with regard to companies’ reputations.
Among the issues discussed were executive compensation, corporate governance, proxy access and Board of Directors, as well as how to address those issues in an even more transparent corporate environment.
The panel — Kurt Stocker, SEC Disclosure Advisory Board member, Lou Thompson, former president and CEO of the National Investor Relations Institute, Elaine Wolff, partner at Jenner & Block’s Washington, DC office, Sophie L’Helias, head of L’Helias LLC, and Fred Marquardt, senior managing director of Morrow & Co. LLC. — spoke about various aspects of a company’s makeup that will need further explanation.
“The very big point that we hope to make today is that there is a much broader role now for communicators and for the investor relations function within a company. There’s a new obligation that we have. The old model is something that has to be re-examined and changed, and there needs to be a new level of alignment,” Flaherty said.

He pointed to a need to create context for stakeholders being exposed to issues that had been “behind the veil”, and to “campaign” relevant governance issues that stakeholders might now be paying attention to for the first time.
The panel discussed the need for expanding communications both internally and externally to make sure core issues are addressed. “I think the rules dictate a new communication model where companies need to have a strategic integrated communication model, in other words, where this doesn’t happen, they need to get the IRO and the communications executives to get out of their silos and create strategic integrated messaging so investors better understand the company,” said Thompson.
Marquardt echoed his sentiment, explaining the need for outreach to make sure it’s clear what investors are thinking. It needs to be a “coordinated effort” between people who talk to the board and people who talk to the investors, he said. “The need for dialogue with your investors will increase dramatically.”