Investor relations and public relations officers enable successful communication of the chair of the supervisory board both internally and externally
Supervisory board chairs are relevant communicators for companies. The supervisory board’s disclosure obligations have long been fully embedded in the company’s regular communications. But what about investor dialogue or voluntary communication with the media?
In a large proportion of companies, there is no officially defined responsibility for supervisory board chair communications. Only in a few cases, do 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 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. This person should coordinate closely with the communications functions. Further recommendations can be found in the study.
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.
The study is based on qualitative expert interviews with supervisory board chairs and investor relations and public relations managers from 10 DAX and MDAX companies.