Award-winning IR: creating an IR playbook
In 2014 Blackbaud’s management team decided to in-source its IR function, having previously used an IR agency. The brand wasn’t well known on Wall Street, with only two analysts covering it and a sub-$2 bn market cap.
The first thing Mark Furlong did when he joined as director of investor relations was to speak to company management, contacts on the buy side and sell side and peer IROs to create an investor relations playbook. While the strategy has inevitably evolved during the last three years, the playbook proved to be an influential document in setting goals and establishing a formalized notion of what IR can achieve.
Last year the company’s market cap increased to more than $5 bn, with shareholder returns above 50 percent. The company is also now covered by 12 sell-side analysts. This growth has placed Blackbaud as one of the largest companies in the Russell 2000 index, and recently secured its inclusion in the S&P 400 midcap index. Under Furlong’s leadership, the company’s investor marketing has grown, too, from a domestic to an international plan. And he has demonstrated a willingness to experiment with new technologies and communication tools, from trialing cloud computing software to using LinkedIn as a content marketing tool to communicate with more than 1,000 investors and analysts.
Finally, Furlong has demonstrated a commitment to giving back to the IR profession: he is part of the group of early adopters of NIRI’s IRC credential, being one of the first to sit the exam, and this year he will sit on a subcommittee of NIRI’s national conference organizing committee.