Some investor relations tech trends come and go – remember that app you thought all your investors would be downloading? – and some tools are better than others. While it can be tempting to think throwing money at a problem is the best way to solve it, check out how these free tools can help without costing a penny (even if some have additional, paid-for options should you want to get even more out of the service).
A classic tool and one that if you aren’t using, you should be. Simply set up a selection of keywords that are unique to your company, your industry and your competitors, and Google will make sure everything the internet has to say about you gets delivered direct to your inbox. An excellent way to monitor mentions for free.
Whether or not you post to social media, it’s still important to monitor what’s being said about you. TweetDeck is one of a number of tools that allow you to monitor mentions of keywords and activity about your own company, competitors and industry influencers. It works in a similar way to Google News but for Twitter and allows you to link multiple accounts, set up alerts to stay on top of important tweets, automatically update your Twitter feed and schedule tweets – plus a lot more. You don’t even need to set up an account if you’re already signed up to Twitter.
Pro tip: ‘IR teams should leverage free tools like Google Alerts and TweetDeck for a comprehensive and organized online monitoring process,’ says Dennis Walsh, director of IR at Zillow. ‘[Remember to] review those keywords regularly, to ensure the tools capture any mentions. You don’t want to be caught off guard when investors reference something they have read online.’
Looking to live-stream your CEO’s next big announcement but want a more casual feel? Want to tap into the millennial crowd, or simply try something new and free? The Twitter- owned live-streaming app Periscope allows you to quickly share video with followers or people interested in tagged topics, making it a great tool for conferences, Q&As, announcements or anything else you might want to share. Once the live element is over, you can keep the video up in full, allowing users to reply to it or watch highlights. But be warned: viewers can interact directly with comments and Periscope ‘hearts’.
Pro tip: ‘People being filmed are often a little more nervous when they know the camera is on,’ explains Patrick Kiss, head of IR and public relations at Deutsche EuroShop. ‘They tend to speak more correctly, which can be hard over a longer period of time, so position the camera [your smartphone, GoPro or even your professional camera] as unobtrusively as possible while maintaining a good view of the action. The more you use the tool, the more people get used to it.’
This is a great tool for anyone who travels a lot. You can either sync it to your email or forward on your booking confirmations and let the app do the rest. It will take your flight, hotel, pick-up bookings and more and create a master itinerary so you know where you’ll be and when. You can share that itinerary with your team and the free version also offers offline access.
The pro version, which costs $49 a year, offers a huge range of additional features including one that lets you know when your preferred seat becomes available or automatically finds an alternative flight if yours is cancelled. There’s a team option, too, starting from $29 a month.
Another staple Google tool, Analytics lets you analyze web traffic to give you insights into everything from how many people are visiting your IR page, what they’re clicking on when they get there and how long they stay to which bits of the new online annual report are being read most. It can be a little trickier to set up than some of the other tools here but once you’re up and running, you’ll have a host of data points at your fingertips.
If it’s good enough for the Obama administration, it’s probably good enough for your company press releases. The current Oval Office inhabitant might prefer to share his announcements in 240 characters or less but under former US president Barack Obama, one – ahem – medium for speeches, announcements and even White House-approved GIFs was Medium. The platform is open to all sorts of content and is a great option for everything from press releases to earnings call transcripts or a Q&A with the CFO – as well as a good resource for interesting reads.
Turning your earnings call or CEO speech into a podcast means that instead of having to go looking for that information and then finding time to listen – or downloading the audio for later – subscribing analysts, investors, members of the media and other interested parties can automatically receive the latest podcast straight to their device of choice.
Some of the pioneers in this area include major players such as IBM, BP and Johnson & Johnson. Remember, however, that to get your podcast onto iTunes, you’ll need to use a media-hosting site such as SoundCloud or Buzzsprout – but there are many to choose from.
Keep the recap short (around two minutes) ‘then move on to management saying what was surprising, notable, interesting or different,’ says James Wicklund, managing director of equity research at Credit Suisse. ‘A long wind-up on macro factors is wasted, as investors have their own opinions. Talk instead about how you fit in the macro, and what parts benefit or negatively impact you the most. And then focus on the Q&A, especially in a podcast. People want to hear analysts’ and investors’ concerns and issues, too.’
A great one for time-strapped small caps, particularly where the IR program is still run by senior management. Xtensio offers free templates you can use to create some of the most important elements of your IR website including the investor factsheet, the media page and the pitch deck. It even offers a dedicated investor relations toolbox with templates, editable examples and how-to guides. The basics are free but even the top tier comes in at only $20 a month.
As discussed in our article, Investor perception studies: DIY for IROs, SurveyMonkey can be a great tool for snap polls of your investors, as well as post-meeting feedback and even planning conferences, which IR professionals explained at the IR Magazine Global Forum in Paris last year. You can run surveys via email or website pop-ups or by embedding them in your site. The basic option offers unlimited surveys but you’re restricted to 10 questions and viewing the first 100 responses. If you need more than that, upgrading starts at $31 a month if you pay for the year upfront.
Pro tip: ‘When using an online survey tool like SurveyMonkey, the key is to be quick,’ advises Julie Tracy, senior vice president and chief communications officer at Wright Medical. ‘If your survey is short and sweet, there’s a greater chance more respondents will complete it.’
Another option that’s been around for a while and is already a popular choice with the IR community, SlideShare does what it says: it lets you share presentations or – in the case of many IR teams – your investor deck. This allows investors and analysts to flip through rather than scroll down cumbersome PDF downloads. Since being bought by LinkedIn in 2012, SlideShare also offers some traffic and download analytics, something previously reserved for paying customers – now it’s all free.
This article first appeared in the summer 2018 issue of IR Magazine