Nimesh DaveNimesh Davé

We’re entering a new era of corporate communications, and the stakes have never been higher. In a volatile economic landscape, business leaders know that protecting the bottom line means protecting corporate reputation. A recent study conducted by communications firm ICR found that four out of five professional investors (80 percent) believe that at least 20 percent of a company’s valuation is impacted by non-financial factors, and more than half (57 percent) believe it’s at least 30 percent.

Corporate communications isn’t getting any easier, and public relations and investor relations professionals face a new set of challenges as they take on the responsibility of driving business outcomes, gaining—and keeping—the favor of investors and stakeholders while securing a competitive edge. As a result, corporate communicators have thrown out traditional playbooks and are embracing innovation and a robust data/analytics strategy to reduce risk and optimize results. I believe we’re entering the “Age of Intelligent Engagement” which is defined as using data-driven strategies and technology to more deeply engage specific audiences while accurately measuring the impact on the business.

How should communicators prepare for this shift? Here are some factors to consider to help PR and IR pros keep up with the pace of business and more accurately demonstrate impact in the Age of Intelligent Engagement:

There are no second chances: Today’s business environment isn’t forgiving: IR and PR professionals are dealing with evolving investor and customer expectations, unpredictable market conditions and faster-than-ever news cycles. If a press release fails to convey a strong message, if an earnings webcast isn’t engaging or if a competitor gains an edge, there are no second chances. Communicators must shift to data-driven, technology-enabled strategies that take the guesswork out of messaging, positioning and storytelling. For example, in the near future, comms tech, driven by AI, will be able to:

  • Score content based on the relevancy of the message and SEO impact.
  • Analyze social media posts from both investors and the media to gain insights into whether critical audiences understood earnings messaging.
  • Analyze the presentation style of corporate spokespeople against stakeholder reaction—and recommend areas for improvement—from content to body language to delivery.

Combine data on sentiment, stock volatility and shareholder identification reports to gain a faster understanding of how investment decisions are made, and ultimately optimize messaging (from earnings scripts to press releases and social media content) accordingly.

KPIs will undoubtedly shift: A data-driven corporate communications strategy will inevitably result in highly accurate, data-backed outcomes. As we enter the Age of Intelligent Engagement, IR and PR professionals must be armed with innovative tools that allow them to measure the business impact of each stakeholder engagement, whether it’s a financial analyst, a customer or a news anchor. For example, did favorable media coverage impact investor awareness and corporate perception, and what was the outcome of that? Has audience sentiment shifted around key corporate messaging pillars? Did an analyst report impact media engagement? By shifting to an “engagement to impact” model of measurement, communicators can clearly show the influence their work has had on the business. Add AI to the mix here, and business leaders will be able to use campaign data to predict what will work—and what won’t—to execute higher-impact comms efforts.

IR and PR enter the boardroom: Corporate communicators have long fought for a seat in the boardroom, and in the current market climate, their role is mission-critical. In fact, I believe that an investment in PR and IR is just as important as allocating budgets to cybersecurity: it’s not optional and is imperative to the health of the company. Business leaders and board members need to understand the value that IR and PR data can deliver to the organization—and for this to be effective, should be calling on communicators to regularly share insights on market trends, brand perception, audience feedback and messaging impact. This will also require an investment in technology that empowers communications with the data they need to make strategic decisions.

As I’ve alluded, generative AI will play a transformative role in the Age of Intelligent Engagement—the technology’s ability to process and analyze data is a superpower for communicators. As public relations professionals begin to experiment with open-source AI tools like Chat GPT, they must also evaluate their own stack to determine how solutions for media monitoring, wiring press releases and building journalist relationships can produce data that can drive efficiency and improve outcomes.

The Age of Intelligent Engagement is here to stay, and communicators must adapt with these technological shifts in order to continue bringing the right messages to key stakeholders.


Nimesh Davé is President of Notified.