INSIGHT. 04/24/17

‘Hype vs. Reality’ – Managing the Delicate PR Balance for Innovation-Driven Businesses

By Cory Ziskind

Innovate or Die. Whether a Fortune 500 company looking for opportunities to capture new market share in the face of increased competition from smaller but more nimble companies, or a start up with a disruptive, game changing technology that holds great promise for the future, but has not yet been proven economically and commercially viable – innovation is the goal of every company that is looking to differentiate and drive sustainable growth.

But there is a fine line running between the reality of promising innovation and overhyped expectations that PR professionals must walk when helping companies

The ‘hype vs. reality’ dynamic inherent in the innovation game must be managed strategically in order to truly establish credibility with stakeholders and to avoid the classic pitfall of overpromising and under delivering when introducing a new solution to the market.

Communications plays a critical role in managing this delicate balance. While creating excitement around a new innovation is critical for generating awareness of and interest in its potential, equally important is proving that ‘the hype’ is indeed ‘the reality’ over time in a real world context.

This is often a challenge when working to court the attention of external audiences, including the news media, investors, analysts, customers and partners, employees and other key stakeholders – while executing on the long and winding road from conceptual idea to viable technology to a successful business whose innovation is delivering on its promise.. Within this challenge lies the exciting opportunity to ‘get it right’ the first time in a world where new innovations are often met with skepticism and second chances do not come easily or without reputational scars.

This challenge and opportunity plays out across a wide range of industries and has been especially prominent in the clean tech, 3D printing, medtech, life sciences and healthy living sectors in recent years. For any company introducing a new innovation that promises to economically produce energy with no carbon emissions, usher in a new industrial revolution, deliver life-saving personalized medicine to more people at lower cost, or make a snack food better-for-you without sacrificing taste – appropriately managing the ‘hype vs. reality’ dynamic is critical to successfully building an authentic corporate brand and reputation.

We believe that the fundamental driver of strategic and effective communications for the innovation-driven enterprise should be the rigorous pursuit of credibility-building with key stakeholder audiences through a proactive and sustained ‘show and tell’ communications program that clearly proves the viability of the innovation in a real world, commercial context over time.

A ‘one size fits all’ approach does not exist – companies must create their specific recipe for developing and executing a strategic communications program that delivers the right balance between exciting and evangelizing the true believers, while also garnering support from the skeptics and thus, converting them to advocates for the company’s innovation and its promise.

Establishing credibility does not occur overnight – it is a process and can be accomplished over time through a strategic communications program focused on stoking interest in the technology and its potential to change its respective game – while also proving the ‘hype’ with stories of real world advances, developments and milestones that illustrate viability and bring the innovation to life.

External communications should involve input from all areas of the organization in order to strategically align public relations activities with the company’s progress on the path towards commercialization and market penetration. The Board of Directors, C-suite, sales, marketing and communications organizations, engineers, technologists and innovation teams all need to be communicating and coordinating in lock-step in order to fully capitalize on the opportunity and to confront the challenges, and manage the seen and unforeseen risks that inevitably lie ahead.

All facets of the organization must be strategically aligned on the core elements of the communications program architecture, including messaging, positioning and timing of communications activities that prove real world viability. This includes ensuring the ability and willingness of third parties, whether customers, partners, academics or industry experts – to participate in public endorsements and testimonials that validate the company’s communications.

There is no silver bullet to communications for the innovation-driven enterprise, but when managed appropriately, the ‘hype vs. reality’ dynamic can leveraged to establish credibility, build reputational capital and set the company on the path to towards long-term success.


 

Key Takeaways from Annual Tulane M&A Conference

Each year, leading lawyers, bankers, PR professionals and other advisors focused on M&A and shareholder activism convene in New Orleans for the annual conference of the Tulane Corporate Law Institute to discuss the latest developments and trends transactions and corporate securities law.

READ MORE
 

The Changing Landscape for Financial Communications within the Restaurant Industry

Keeping pace with investor priorities is critical for financial communications

READ MORE
 

Keys to a Successful Conference Call: Don’t Dump Data; Provide Insight and Control the Narrative

Cardinal Rule: Do Your Own Analysis

READ MORE
 

ESG Lessons for the Cannabis Industry

BY PHIL DENNING, DAN MCDERMOTT Medicinal marijuana is legal in 30 states and as the cannabis industry continues to mature and more companies are publicly traded, there will be an increased focus on their environmental,…

READ MORE
 

The Board’s Oversight Role in Corporate Culture Definition

Lyndon Park, head of ICR’s Governance Advisory Solutions practice, was published in Financier Worldwide magazine discussing the board’s role in overseeing corporate culture.

READ MORE
 

The Art Of The Impactful Investor Presentation

One of the most frequently asked questions by new clients to ICR is – how can we be most impactful, to the largest audience, in the shortest time?

READ MORE
 

5 Important Communication Tips Cannabis Companies Should Follow

“‘Hype vs. Reality’ – Managing the Delicate PR Balance for Innovation-Driven Businesses,”

READ MORE
 

Hillicon Valley: What the Internet Bill of Rights Means for the Tech Industry

When it comes to reconciling free markets, technological innovation and personal digital privacy, it’s clear that Wall Street, Silicon Valley and Capitol Hill have a long way to go.

READ MORE
 

The Allure of 1.4 Billion Customers

“Go West, young man, go West, and grow up with the country.” So urged Horace Greeley in 1865. Today, many business leaders are telling their underlings, “Go East, young men and women, go East, and grow up with China.”

READ MORE
 

Using Common Sense in Change Management

In our business, clients seek our advice on how to handle these unfortunate events. In recent years it has adopted its own jargon: change management.

READ MORE
 

Navigating ESG Ratings Agencies

BY DAN MCDERMOTT As ESG matters have grown in importance to investors, so has the influence of ESG ratings agencies. Issuers often struggle to navigate which ESG issues to disclose, the best practices for disclosure,…

READ MORE
 

Emerging Biotech Company Looking to Raise Money? Start by Raising Your Visibility

In the biotech arena, raising capital to fund R&D is mission critical. Thus implementing a strategy to raise your profile is more critical than ever.

READ MORE
 

ICR’s Phil Denning featured in 13D Monitor’s October issue

Phil Denning, Partner, ICR, and co-head of ICR’s special situations group, sat down with 13D Monitor and is featured in their October issue.

READ MORE
 

Developing an Annual IR Plan

Planning and executing a productive, efficient and effective IR outreach program is one of the primary responsibilities of the Investor Relations team at any corporation.

READ MORE
 

The Impact of Total Shareholder Return on Proxy Contest Outcomes

Some companies may release a deep exhale following a proxy season without engagement from an activist shareholder.

READ MORE
 

Best Practices in Raising the Profile and Protecting Professional Services Brands

From global law and management consulting firms to accounting and engineering firms, the competitive need to aggressively promote brand, talent and POV on key…

READ MORE
 

Integrity in PR: Some Sage Advice from Comedian Steve Martin

My favorite comedian, Steve Martin, had a routine on his 1981 album, “The Steve Martin Brothers,” that included this gag:

READ MORE
 

Analyzing Share Repurchase Programs

Recently I was asked to weigh in as a client decided whether to initiate a share repurchase program. The client was contemplating a way to reduce future share price volatility following a…

READ MORE
 

STACK, SCROLL & SWIPE: How mobile is changing the online experience

We recently came across a fascinating statistic: For the first time, people are spending more time on their smartphones than on their desktops and or laptops. More, even, than on their televisions.

READ MORE
 

The Business Case for Embracing ESG & Communicating the Results

In 1970, economist Milton Friedman famously claimed that there’s “only one social responsibility of business

READ MORE
 

Director-To-Shareholder Communication: Managing the New Normal in IR

The past few years have seen shareholders become increasingly vocal in their desire to communicate directly with a company’s board of directors.

READ MORE
 

MiFID II Update: Impact on U.S. Listed Companies is Underway, It is Critical to Become Proactive

MiFID II mandates the unbundling of trading commissions from investment research payments, requiring investment firms to value and pay for research and corporate access separately.

READ MORE
 

Amazon’s Healthcare Entrance and the Unfolding Digital Health Revolution

In the past several years, the healthcare landscape has altered dramatically as consolidation has continued across the healthcare verticals, but the scale of the entities involved now is truly gargantuan

READ MORE
 

Social Media and its emerging role on Wall Street

By Tom Ryan Co-Founder & CEO of ICR Having spent more than a decade on Wall Street as a sell-side analyst, and the last 20 years as the CEO of a strategic communications firm that…

READ MORE
 

2018 – Year of Shorts?

As shareholder activism has become an accepted and mainstream investment strategy, publicly agitating for change at public companies and calling out management for underperformance no longer has the same stigma it once carried.  Over the…

READ MORE
 

The True Value of Investor Perception Studies

The concept of an investor perception study is familiar to most IROs, C-suite executives and boards.

READ MORE
 

Rules for the Road (Show) Near Quarter End

Getting out on the road – be it through a non-deal roadshow (NDR) or investor conference – is critical to the success of an effective IR program.  Meeting current and prospective investors face-to-face and sharing…

READ MORE
 

So You’ve Just Completed Your Cross-Border IPO

Congratulations. You’ve just completed your cross-border IPO. After many months, or maybe years, of hard work, your shares are trading on Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange.

READ MORE
 

New Study Shows the Benefit of Ex-Analysts in the IR Role

Who better to help management teams communicate to analysts and investors than former analysts?

READ MORE
 

Hosting A Successful Investor Day

As companies look to generate interest form the investment community over time, they need to consider a broad range of activities.

READ MORE
 

Equifax Exposes Personal Information… and the Urgent Need for Crisis Preparedness!

The immediate aftermath of the latest Company data breach – this one affecting a record 143 million people at consumer credit bureau Equifax – brings to mind the popular definition of insanity…

READ MORE
 

PR Nightmares and Social Media: Winning Back Customer Trust

If 2017 has taught us anything so far, it’s that PR disasters can be made a hundred times worse by social media ineptitude.

READ MORE
 

The Issue of Guidance

As a trusted advisor, we are often asked about earnings guidance and whether or not a company should provide it. And if they should, how often and what metrics should be provided.

READ MORE
 

SPEED EQUALS REVENUE: DESIGNING MOBILE EXPERIENCES FOR B2B MARKETING

For many B2B companies, it’s become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy: “We don’t focus much on mobile,” they say. “It just doesn’t generate business for us.” The numbers do seem to bear…

READ MORE
 

Want a Successful IPO in the US? Asian Companies Need to Work Harder

Asia What’s in a name? That which we call a meigui, by any other name would smell as sweet. Me-i guey? What’s a me-i guey? Well,…

READ MORE
 

How to manage late SEC filings

Strategic planning and communications around late filings of an annual 10K or quarterly 10Q is critical for a company to manage the negative fallout. Companies must act quickly to reassure investors and other stakeholders when required to file an SEC Form 12b-25 Notification of Late Filing, which gives the company a short extension to file its SEC statements.

READ MORE
 

The Ten People Who Determine Your Valuation

There is a tee shirt popular among social psychologists (admittedly a niche market) that reads, “Stereotypes are a Real Time Saver.” These scientists, many of them management professors, appreciate the ironic humor. They know, through their close study of behavior, that we are all cognitive misers with too much to do and too many things to understand.

READ MORE
 

‘Hype vs. Reality’ – Managing the Delicate PR Balance for Innovation-Driven Businesses

But there is a fine line running between the reality of promising innovation and overhyped expectations that PR professionals must walk when helping companies

READ MORE
 

Key Takeaways from Annual Tulane M&A Conference

Interestingly, and perhaps unique to this conference, the most heavily attended panel is one specific to the dynamics around media coverage of M&A.

READ MORE
 

Dual-Listed IPOs: The Keys to Success in Managing a Cross-Border Offering

There is no expected slowdown in the pace of Canadian, or TSX-listed, companies looking to list in the U.S.

READ MORE
 

A List for Listings: Considerations When Choosing a Stock Exchange

ICR President Don Duffy discusses which exchange to choose for your IPO in a new interview, via National Investors Relations Institute (NIRI). Read more about the interview.    

READ MORE
 

Getting Social with Investor Relations

Only 28 percent of IR practitioners use social media for IR, according to a 2016 social media survey conducted by the National Investor Relations Institute. The same study reported reluctance among analysts, with only 15-18…

READ MORE
 

Integrated Communications in the Life Sciences

One of the biggest challenges to achieving communications integration in the agency and corporate setting is culture.

READ MORE
 

How to Handle Bad Financial News

To say the markets have been dizzying this year is an understatement. Stock instability, the Brexit vote, and an uncertain political climate in the U.S. have required companies to adjust to…

READ MORE
 

Focus on Life Science and Healthcare Sectors

ICR Healthcare, a newly-branded specialty practice that provides communications counsel and support for ICR’s growing roster of clients in the biopharmaceutical, medtech and healthcare services sectors.

READ MORE
 

The Value of PR: Lighter on Clip Books, Heavier on Revenue Creation

A significant transfiguration has occurred for PR in recent years as the internet and emerging technologies have reshaped the business landscape. Today, through its newfound ability…

READ MORE
 

PR Seeks Social Media: A Match Made in the Digital Era

ICR As public relations professionals, we can’t so much as “swipe right” today without considering the important impact social media makes on every story we tell, every connection we make…

READ MORE
 

Washington and Crisis, a Unique Relationship

Crisis communications and Congressional hearings are inevitably intertwined, proving the adage that the most dangerous place to be in Washington is between a politician and a TV camera. The recent…

READ MORE

 

Don’t let Unicorns Fool you – The Tech IPO is not an Ancient Myth

Remember the market clamor about a possible tech bubble in 2014? It was a different time with dozens of successful IPOs and newly emerging unicorns – those hot private companies claiming…

READ MORE

 

Communicating in the Golden Era of Shareholder Activism

Carl Icahn. Bill Ackman. Nelson Peltz. Daniel Loeb. These are the names that have struck fear into the hearts of every public company CEO in America since the corporate raider days of the 1980s…

READ MORE
 

Navigating the Growing Healthy Living Industry

Increasingly more companies are focused on health and wellness. The paths of two divergent sets of consumers – boomers and seniors who are living to older ages and managing new health…

READ MORE

 

The art of IPO communications, and why it matters

With the short amount of time between an IPO filing becoming public and the completion of the IPO, the transition from private company to public can feel like a whirlwind. In a matter of weeks…

READ MORE

 

The Communications Role in the M&A Rebound

The use of strategic communications unquestionably plays a significant role in helping to ensure the success of a transaction through its different phases. It helps inspire confidence, minimize…

READ MORE

 

The mainstreaming of shareholder activism

The prevalence of shareholder activism signals a new frontier for crisis communications. The practice of activism has evolved, its players have grown more sophisticated, and companies and their…

READ MORE