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Jan 22, 2019

Adding video to the spread: AstraZenenca on enhancing the webcast

Award-winning IR team experimented with video for its year-end investor webcast

AstraZeneca 2018 year-end webcast
For the first time, in it's recent year-end webcast, AstraZeneca embedded video to help bring the story to life

When pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca was preparing its year-end webcast – broadcast from Shanghai and focused on China and emerging markets, which are not only both big growth areas for the firm but also ‘key to the company’s transformation,’ according to the webcast – head of IR Thomas Kudsk Larsen says the team was looking for new ways to bring the webcast to life. Mining past video experience, he and the team tried something new and embedded video into the webcast itself. 

The multi-IR Magazine Award-winning company likes trying interesting things, notably taking home the trophy for best investor event in 2017 when it went back to the roots of DNA to showcase a new cancer drug, holding a sell-side analyst science event at the Eagle Pub in Cambridge, UK, where the discovery of human DNA was first announced in February 1953.

With emerging markets now accounting for a third of sales and AstraZeneca highlighting in its webcast that its main therapy areas are growing fastest in these markets, it’s easy to see why the company chose to bring a bit more color to the webcast.

‘We wanted to bring our China and emerging markets business to life,’ explains Larsen. ‘On slides, it can be difficult to get across some key characteristics of our business, such as scale and our use of technology. [Embedding video] also meant we could demonstrate the passion and expertise of our many colleagues in these key markets.’

It helped that both Larsen and Craig Marks, senior director of IR at AstraZeneca, with a focus on finance and fixed income, have previous video experience. Larsen says that at a previous company, he had routinely used video to allow ‘key management members’ to talk about the firm, while Marks has held IR roles in consumer and retail companies ‘where external events often feature videos’. 

AstraZeneca already produces a lot of video for internal use, explains Larsen, ‘and we thought it would be great to put that to external use.’ And while he says much of the work was done by the communications team, using and mixing existing materials, as the IR voice and the webcast project manager, Marks ‘sponsored the production, set the brief and monitored progress.’

And the benefits were ‘substantial,’ says Larsen. Aside from offering the opportunity to bring the company’s projects to life and highlight assets in a way impossible in slides, it seems the team’s efforts were well appreciated. ‘Investor feedback was great and typically began with I didn’t realize… while colleagues in the business learned a lot about a big part of the business they’d only seen on slides before.’

In terms of numbers, Larsen says 150 people outside the company attended the live webcast ‘and many more dialed in to the replay’ – good numbers given the mid-December webcast date. 

So what would he do differently next time? ‘We’d spend more time on editing – ensuring all of the content is relevant, with a consistent look and feel, and the same narrator across the videos,’ Larsen says. ‘But for our first time, we’re happy.’ 

Garnet Roach

An award-winning journalist, Garnet Roach joined IR Magazine in October 2012, working on both the editorial and research sides of the publication. Prior to entering the world of investor relations, her freelance career covered a broad range of...