Trying to get a firm handle on what impact the Brexit vote is going to have on the UK economy and businesses and the ripple effects it will have on everything from office space in the capital to the cost of mobile phone charges is well-nigh impossible. Everything, it would seem is speculation. From an IR point of view, this environment of uncertainty creates both challenges and opportunities much like Brexit itself. There are diverse opinions and sentiments about what Brexit means for UK companies and the inherent challenges for IR and management teams as new regulations and agreements gradually take shape.
Just as we have seen a significant broadening of the role of lead corporate communicators over the past few years, the emergence of a different kind of investor and an ever-widening range of stakeholders now calls for a different kind of IRO with a broad and adaptable range of business, financial and communications skills. We’ve seen the rapid rise of SRI and governance issues on the corporate agenda and how these have become an essential part of IR communications. IR teams will play an important role going forward in helping to deliver an integrated and consistent narrative to meet the FRC’s guidelines for articulating the potential impact of Brexit on their business. In crafting their narrative and corporate messages, they are having to tailor their content for different channels in recognition of the fact that a great deal of IR communication activity is now done via mobile devices. This positive trend makes for more regular and dynamic communication between corporates and their stakeholders and has prompted IROs, lead communicators and marketeers to come up with more creative content.
One seasoned IR Director we spoke to recently put it very succinctly: ‘Business is about getting stuff done’. Whatever new agreements and frameworks are hammered out in the coming months/years, companies will continue to be expected to ‘get stuff done’ and blaming poor performance on Brexit will not be an option. Clearly there are, and will continue to be, businesses and industries more impacted by the instability and uncertainty Brexit has provoked, influenced by where they operate and who and where their customers and investors are. To weather the storm, and for some even to capitalise on whatever opportunities Brexit has opened up to them, investor relations and strategic communications teams will have vital role to play.
Lisa Wannell, VMA Group
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