The emergence of virtual investor relations
The Covid-19 pandemic changed the way every industry does business. Telehealth, which used to be a convenience, has become a necessary tool for patients to keep up with their doctor visits. Other businesses have adopted new work-from-home policies and are reducing their office footprint. And grocery stores are now delivering more food than ever, solidifying the importance of online selling for the food and retail industries.
Organizations have adjusted their business model to keep their customers happy and stay in business. But customers are only one side of this equation. A business also has to consider its investors and stakeholders.
Investors want to know the company is still on course and making it through this disruption effectively, yet effectively communicating at this time can be challenging. With offices and conference venues closed, CFOs and investor relations (IR) professionals still have to keep the lines of communication open. This dilemma raises a lot of questions.
Why should you communicate with your investors?
Investors need to know you are giving them accurate information as soon as you can release it to the public. This information needs to be consistent across all channels of communication to ensure that investors, employees, partners and customers aren’t hearing different messages.
You should remain available and communicate with investors, but also let them know your company will need the time to run the business. A pandemic shouldn’t change the information you convey with investors as much as how you communicate.
Should you postpone your investor events?
The short answer is no. Virtual event software will allow you to continue your schedule of investor events without missing a beat.
Some events, like your annual general meeting, can’t be postponed for very long without some major inconveniences. If you delay it more than six months after your year-end report, you will have to get it approved by the SEC. Similarly, you have a maximum of 45 days to file a 10Q after the quarter’s end before you need regulatory approval to proceed.
If you do postpone these events and get regulatory approval, that is only the first hurdle. Afterward, your investors will be questioning these decisions, and you will have some explaining to do to put them at ease.
Embracing virtual investor relations events using webcast technology is the way to go. Investors are already worried about the way the pandemic has affected other aspects of their life. Hosting a virtual event will let them know that business is proceeding as expected, even if in a slightly different environment.
What about non-deal roadshows?
Virtual NDRs are the way to go. And they have added benefits, like the potential to take your NDR international, now that geography and travel won’t limit it. Your investors are already adjusting to the new digital environment in other areas of business and life. Now is the perfect time to help them transition to virtual NDRs.
Virtual conferences are the future of investor events. More than 95 percent of IR teams say they are likely to use virtual meetings in the future. That being said, every investor event requires planning and preparation, and virtual and in-person events differ substantially. It is good to know the best practices to keep your virtual event engaging.
What are some best practices for virtual investor relations?
Going virtual does not need to add a level of complexity to the event process. With high-definition video and audio, you can be sure your message to investors is clear. Here are some tips to make the transition to the virtual world easier:
- Keep things short but impactful
In the virtual world, you don’t have a captive audience. Here, it is much more difficult to hold your audience’s attention, and there is a premium on presenting just the material that will get your message across.
- Treat it like an in-person event
There is a tendency to be informal when using technology. But your investor event is not the place to let your standards slide. Remain conscious of your posture, tone and eye contact throughout the event, and remember to read the room.
- Prepare your presenters
Some of your presenters may not have used webcasting software before, or they may not be familiar with your platform. Introduce your participants to the technology you will be using early on so they can adjust to it.
- Engage your audience
Add polls, surveys or a Q&A session when you present. These will keep your audience more engaged and give you instant feedback on how your event is going.
- Communicate your event details
Make sure you give attendees enough notice to sign up for your event and remind them before it begins. Virtual events are easier to forget than an event you have to fly to.
The pandemic has changed the way we have to interact with everyone, and this includes investors. Virtual meetings and conferences have become the new normal and will remain an enormous part of how we do business, even after the current environment changes. After the necessity of virtual investor relations passes, its convenience will keep it around.
So there is no better time than now to manage your investor relations with virtual event software from PGi. With GlobalMeet Webcast and hands-on management with GlobalMeet Operator Assisted, you’ll find the right solution to help you host, manage and execute professional investor conference calls and events.
Mark Roberts is chief marketing officer at PGi.