How to use mobile streaming for IR
IROs have a new tool in their arsenal when it comes to broadcasting their disclosures (although they might not realize it): their own smartphones. A number of apps – Periscope and Meerkat to name but two – allow users to stream video from their phone’s camera directly to followers. Broadcasts remain archived for a limited time and are specially designed for easy viewing on a small phone or tablet screen.
German retail real estate firm Deutsche EuroShop was the first to formally use the software when head of IR Patrick Kiss broadcast CEO Wilhelm Wellner’s closing remarks at the firm’s AGM. Since then, Zillow’s IR team has used the app to broadcast a live Q&A with the firm’s CMO, and more companies are poised to exploit the technology soon.
Kiss says the decision to stream Wellner’s closing thoughts was in keeping with his team’s open attitude to new technology. Deutsche Euroshop’s YouTube channel already shows mobile-shot video clips with few frills – no script, no storyboard and no ‘chichi’, as they say in Germany.
‘We are always of the opinion that the content – and not the packaging – is important for our target groups,’ Kiss explains. ‘It was the same for the live broadcast: just let the shareholders and all interested people participate: an easy, fair disclosure.’ Though more cameras in the room can make speakers nervous, he adds, video always helps with better interpretation of what is said.
As is often the case with social media, feedback was limited to live responses from viewers via the app. Kiss says the stream received 47 likes – or ‘hearts’ in Periscope – from 117 viewers, with live comments examining, discussing and even commending Wellner’s comments in real time. ‘What I didn’t know beforehand was that viewers don’t need to have Periscope installed,’ he adds. ‘They can follow the broadcast by clicking the link we tweeted.’
One interested viewer of said Periscope broadcast was Stephanie Harig, senior account executive at Dix & Eaton, who writes on LinkedIn that IROs may eventually leverage live-streaming mobile apps for a number of other uses. Beyond AGMs, she says, these could include anything from bell-ringing events at stock exchanges to analyst day highlights.
It’s perfect, too, for events when attendance might be shaky or inconsistent. ‘I think we’ll see [streaming apps] more at big events where you’re asking investors to come to you to listen, where a lot turn up but many can’t make it, or where you want to make sure it’s getting to people who can’t make it, for whatever reason,’ Harig tells IR Magazine. She adds that a good place to start is to stream events that have already happened or have already been broadcast online. ‘Periscope and other live-streaming apps just provide a bit more of a sense of transparency and are easier to use because they operate in real time,’ she says.
As for Deutsche EuroShop, further analysis is needed in the wake of the firm’s AGM as to how useful streaming apps might be for other events.
‘We plan to broadcast the presentations from our analysts and investors day in Gdansk, Poland with Periscope in August – maybe even before that event when we have our earnings call,’ Kiss explains. ‘But it’s not fully decided yet. Who knows? Maybe one day every meeting will be live broadcast to give everyone a chance to listen to what is said, every time, everywhere.’