Drones for IR: Tech targeting takeaways from the South East Asia Forum

Dec 13, 2021
From new and fancy to the trusty IR website, investor relations professionals talked tech communications at the virtual event last week

Talking about how PTT Exploration & Production (PTTEP) has adapted its approach to communications, Thanat Thamrongsaksuvit, IR manager at the Thai firm, explained that his department has been putting drones to work in order to ‘bring’ investors to assets they can’t actually visit because of the pandemic.

Describing traditional PowerPoint presentations as ‘vanilla’, Thamrongsaksuvit said IR teams needed to step up their game and make communications more interactive, and added that from his point of view, what’s needed is more of a ‘marketing’ perspective.

Thamrongsaksuvit was speaking at the IR Magazine Forum – South East Asia last week, on a panel titled: The new digital toolkit for telling the company story. The forum also took a look at ESG trends, investor sentiment and macro issues and some of the IR innovations that have come out of having to communicate through a pandemic. You can sign up to access the forum replay here.

This year, Thamrongsaksuvit said PTTEP made a big acquisition. But of course investors couldn’t visit the new site. 

‘Our solution was to provide a 360-degree, 10-minute video clip, shot by drones, with added side stories – like you are watching a travel channel,’ Thamrongsaksuvit explained. Noting that ‘attention [spans] seem to be very short’ in today’s virtual world, he also wanted to avoid long text descriptions: ‘We wanted to keep the story short and concise.’

Deeper dives

Melissa Vergel de Dios, head of IR at PLDT – the largest fixed and wireless internet network in the Philippines and a company currently expanding to offer digital wallets and digital banking – agreed that the pandemic has necessitated a shift in the way IR teams communicate.

‘From an IR perspective, the pandemic is actually very good, in the sense that investor relations is all about access to company management,’ she told the audience at the virtual forum.

For Vergel de Dios, the shift to virtual meant senior management – and department heads – were available to meet far more investors and analysts than they would have if meetings had been taking place in person.

‘There are two things in the Philippine telco space that are exciting fund managers at the moment: home broadband and fintech,’ she explained. ‘What we’ve been able to do just in the last month or so is to bring the heads of our fintech business and our home broadband business on a kind of roadshow with investors. That has received very good feedback.’

Whereas conferences might mean the whole company has to be covered in an hour, ‘what [that ‘roadshow’] has allowed PLDT to do is to go deeper into the business and go through a lot of data points. We’ve been able to shine a spotlight on fintech and home broadband.’

The ESG boost

While communicating in the digital, pandemic-driven world might be much about new ideas to keep investor attention engaged, that doesn’t mean IR teams need to move away from key tools that provide a real return on investment – such as the trusty IR website.

Vergel de Dios, who serves as chief sustainability officer as well as leading the IR team, explained that PLDT had seen more interest in ESG issues over the past year than ever before. And the IR website has been a key first port of call on that front.  

‘When people are interested in a company, the first thing they look for is the website,’ she noted. Describing PLDT’s site as ‘a work in progress’, she said the firm has been making sure everything is up to date, everything is searchable and everything is easy to understand and navigate.

The company offers a ‘cheat sheet’ on ESG, with links to its interactive sustainability report, for example. But it also wants investors to be easily able to contact the IR and sustainability teams when they want more information. ‘We think of [the website] as a digital tool [that is] very powerful,’ Vergel de Dios said.  

You can access the full replay of the IR Magazine Forum – South East Asia here to listen to more from Thamrongsaksuvit and Vergel de Dios, as well as the other panelists across the event.

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