IRO: voice, teacher, researcher, and firefighter

Yesterday I read an article by Rick Kiernan, a former public relations person for 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, where he described the roles public relations practitioners play in their organizations.

I think these roles can be as descriptive of investor relations officers' jobs as they are of public relations responsibilities. Investor relations officers (IROs) in fact provide a VOICE for their organizations - communicating their companies' visions to variety of external audiences.

IROs are also TEACHERS translating organization's and industry's jargon to financial analysts and shareholders. Based on my former investor relations job for a heavy machinery corporation, I know it might be quite a challenge explaining to financial analysts the differences between open-hearth furnance and electric arc furnance.

IROs are also RESEARCHERS (Kiernan calls this role surveyor). In fact, CEO and CFO might rely on IRO's knowledge of the financial markets and the company's shareholder base. IROs must ask questions and listen in addition to talking; they are expected to know what investors like and dislike about the company, why the buy, hold or sell company's shares, what's their outlook on the company and insudtry and so on. Getting this information must be a result of informal converstaion or ab actual research program. In any case, the value of investor relations to the organization may be enhanced by this knowledge.

Finally, FIREFIGHTERS. This one is easy to understand - when crisis comes, IROs should cover the investor and analyst audiences and help the company deal with the situation.

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