Thursday, October 11, 2018

How should PR pros talk about earnings?

Earnings reports are often considered the realm of investor relations—but there’s plenty of room for PR moves, too.

When earnings season rolls around each quarter, reporters are tied up for weeks analyzing and writing on results, especially business and financial outlets. That means pitching your own company’s report or newsjacking one of the tech giants’ announcements can be quite lucrative in terms of media coverage.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Here are tactics to consider:

1. Add tension to the story.

A glowing earnings report alone probably won’t do the trick. You’ve got to find a unique hook. That could be bringing in a new executive with a great pedigree, positioning your company as trending in a way that opposes the rest of the industry, or pivoting after a challenging recent past.

For AspenTech, the tension was the company being previously delisted by NASDAQ but recovering to a stock price hovering around $100 and a $7 billion market cap. That narrative angle became a great piece “ Its stock rising, Aspen Tech enjoys a quiet revival after a two-year exile from Nasdaq ,” running in print and online in the Boston Globe.

[FREE GUIDE: The 7 questions you should be asking about brand journalism]

Another example is with Criteo, whose positive earnings reports worked in direct opposition to the rest of publicly-traded advertising technology companies. Positioning Criteo as “Ad Tech’s Golden Child” while other stocks were tanking resulted in features in WSJ, Business Insider and AdExchanger as well as broadcast outlets like CNBC and Fox Business.

2. Prepare quotes you know will get coverage—and go to beat reporters.

Media outlets want to break news or at least be one of the first, and earnings reports are no different. Many reporters are pulling their stories together simultaneously with an earnings call, or even as the earnings press release is issued.

Pre-drafting quotes to pitch out the days leading up to or just ahead of another company’s report can be challenging, as you don’t know exactly how results will go. However, if you can find a unique thread and position your company as having unique insight into, it can work well.

3. Collaborate with investor relations to gain insight into the earnings report.

Just because there’s a rosy picture painted around topline revenue for the quarter doesn’t mean the report is all butterflies and rainbows. Your organization could ultimately be losing money if its spending outweighs sales. Certain business units or products could be covering up for huge losses in other sectors.

Work with the company’s investor relations team to understand if timing is right to pitch earnings or if you should wait until another quarter. If you are pitching, IR can’t give details away on results ahead of the report itself but can provide guidance on key storylines they’ll push with analysts and any historical trends you can position to press to pique interest ahead of time.

4. Prepare and reach out early.

Earnings season is chock full of calls and announcements, which can make it difficult to vie for media attention. Coming up with a solid strategy and storyline—using the tactics above—and reaching out to press early will give reporters ample time (and reason) to consider slotting your earnings report into their busy agenda.

Sarah Babbitt is an account director with Shift Communications. A version of this article originally appeared on the Shift Communications blog.

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