By Christopher Chu, Vice President, The Piacente Group
We conclude this three-part series with some checklists that may help you in your journey towards integrating visual elements and multi-disciplinary digital practices with your IR program.
Pragmatically, “best practices IR,” is choosing between following what one’s peers have repeated in the past, and deemed permissible by both internal and external counsel; or alternatively, accept the challenge and being the first to brave something new even if that activity is outside the scope of their wheelhouse.
One example was a client that I worked for. They happened to have been one of the largest beverage companies in the world. Their IR team created a breakout line of business investor events where investors met with divisional heads of the company on a quarterly rotational calendar. In turn, the IR team was awarded best European Analyst Days: Beverages by IR Magazine. Sometimes thinking outside of the traditional best practices pays dividends, though it can be somewhat of a more difficult road to travel.
In this spirit, best practice IR can mean taking the path less traveled or trailblazing a road of your own entirely. In this era, often the creative playbooks that you as an IR practitioner generate will play a far greater role in enhancing investor communications than any recycled best practice that you have used in the past.
In this digital-first world, practitioners can no longer avoid concepts such as content marketing or playing the part of an influencer from a capital markets perspective. For example, retail investor marketing has evolved, new tools such as products from Discovery Data offer a new modicum of digital outreach and contact management that are a bit more up-market than traditional retail IR programs of the past.
In turn, skilled IR practitioners have the chance to be expert narrators projecting the corporate journey out to wider audiences as the competition for capital becomes even more difficult -affected by market changes which include passive investing, algorithmic/high-frequency trading, MiFID II, marketing automation and direct corporate access.
In Relation to IR, Digital Media Techniques Can:
- Provide a new medium for delivering financial results and communications
- Be used to call out or provide context to important information statistics
- Be used to communicate approved messages in “story mode”
- Re-direct audiences back to information localized on the corporate website and taking back control of content
- Engage with new audience demographics including registered investment advisors with regards to retail IR programming rebooted
When Going Digital It Helps to Collaborate, for IR Teams Who Want to Broaden Their Digital IR Footprint:
- Taking stock of internal resources is a good way to start
- Explore how corporate communications, marketing, PR and graphics departments can assist is the easiest path to adding digitally and visually enhanced program elements to an IR program
If you are exploring contact marketing focus on content creation and select distribution such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Wikipedia, Seeking Alpha.
Digital/Visual IR Checklist:
· Start small; decide on one or two projects that your team can assist in producing
· Review communications protocols by packaging them into multiple formats such as video, infographics, financial social media sites, enhanced fonts and color blocks that highlight information to a reader
· Explore RIA, marketing automation and database tools such as those offered by Discovery Data
· Like in the J.P. Morgan earnings release example, an earnings release can be prepared for newswire distribution, made compliant for SEC-filing in addition to being visually enhanced via pdf-document saved on a corporate website. This offers a broad “upcycling” of content in various formats that may just reach out and appeal to a broader spectrum of investor types.
· Use link-backs to your own websites to control information flow