Investor relations and public relations officers enable successful communication of the chair of the supervisory board both internally and externally

The role of investor relations and public relations in the communication of the supervisory board chair

Supervisory board chairs are relevant communicators for companies. The supervisory board’s disclosure obligations directed at external stakeholders have long been fully embedded in the company’s regular communications. But what about investor dialogue or voluntary communication with the media?

Our expert interviews with supervisory board chairs, and investor relations and public relations officers from 10 DAX and MDAX companies show: In a large proportion of companies, there is no officially defined responsibility for supervisory board chair communications. In a few cases, individuals with dedicated capacities, in particular in the PR departments, support the supervisory board chairs. In these cases, both the supervisory board chairs and the relevant communications officers appreciate the trustworthy cooperation and efficient coordination, both concerning disclosure obligations as well as voluntary communication. Only one company had a dedicated unit exclusively responsible for supervisory board communications.

The recommendation is clear: There is a need for defining responsibilities and personnel resources for the management of supervisory board communications. As a minimum requirement, there should be a contact person in the communications functions for supervisory board communications. The second option is to have a dedicated spokesperson or person responsible for managing the supervisory board chair’s communication who coordinates closely with the communications functions.

Clear responsibilities result in a closer exchange between the relevant parties involved and an overall better (internal) supply of information to supervisory board chairs. This can lead to more professionalized communication by the chair of the supervisory board. Supervisory board chairs and communications officers perceive a close and trustworthy alignment as positive and beneficial for both sides.

Responsibility

Professional communication by the supervisory board chair requires clear accountability within the IR and PR departments

Communication management

Communication officers can implement disclosure obligations as well as voluntary communication as part of a communication management

Consulting

The investor relations and public relations departments have an enabling and advisory role in the communication of supervisory board chairs