It’s not just about the numbers: Why successful investor relations is story-driven
How does a photojournalist become the founder of an investor relations (IR) agency? Well, if you’re our latest PR Profiles guest, Ira Gostin, a party is involved. Before Ira was driving communications and branding for a $400 million IPO, he was a photographer for the Associated Press—just as he’d always wanted. But then, he says, “About 1999, journalism was changing, and I was changing.” It was at this time that Ira first dabbled in IR and decided to take a gamble on himself by going back to school. One graduate degree and several steady jobs in marketing later, Ira was at a party where he met the just-retired CEO of Goldcorp Inc (acquired by Newmont in 2019). “He had just retired and there was an opportunity to start a new company with him,” says Ira. “And the next thing I know, I’m in mining and my goal was to take over the investor relations and the corporate communications.”
Ira stepped away from IR temporarily for an opportunity at a full-service ad agency, but he soon missed the field. “So, in the middle of Covid, I decided to start a new business,” says Ira. That business became the award-winning G8 Strategies. “Right now, we work with mining and industrial companies and bring a de facto IR department into their mix.”
Ira’s team offers a much-needed communications perspective for IR, which is often populated by people with a financial-first background. “They look at doing investor relations as financial reporting, and there certainly is a component of that, but we bring all the principles of public relations and digital marketing—engagement, creative, audience identification—to our IR clients and ensure that the story we’re telling is the story that’s engaging with the shareholder,” says Ira. “What I find fascinating about IR is there are so many different aspects, whether you’re talking about strict Share Price Performance or ESG, it’s still ensuring that you’re putting out that brand story that is resonating with your stakeholders.”
However, one of the challenges of working with industrial companies—typically helmed by technically minded people—is getting them to shift their approach to communications. “An entrepreneur will be giving their pitch and they’re so excited about this piece of technology that they start to drone on and on about it,” says Ira. “But when you’re talking to an investor or a shareholder, they’re a little bit different, but also all the same. They have one major concern: how am I making money off you? Nobody is investing just for the fun of it.”
Ira works with CEOs and whether they’re a scientist, geologist, or a mining engineer, he helps them get out of the technical talk and distill the information into a brand story that resonates with the shareholder. “That’s when we do a ‘brand story workshop’, and we start to tear the story apart,” says Ira. During this workshop, Ira asks the question: what problem is your solution solving? In Ira’s opinion, no matter what industry you find yourself in, the pitch you come up with should be simple enough that your grandmother will understand it. “You have to tell that story in such a way that it immediately resonates and doesn’t require more research to get to the point.”
Reflecting on his career and his path to IR, Ira says, “It’s definitely a bizarre path, but one I wouldn’t trade for the world.” The full interview with Ira is available as a podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcast, and other major platforms.