Without question, management should stay visible and be responsive to investors. Beyond that, here is a Top 10 list of proven elements to consider when developing a winning investor relations program.
10. Deliver a simplified message that is differentiated. Clear, key messages should resonate consistently across all IR communications. We recommend periodically querying top investors and analysts to confirm that your investment thesis and key messages are being understood. To increase the effectiveness of your engagement with investment community, an up to date Fact Sheet should be part of your comprehensive IR program.
9. Set expectations you can meet and then meet or exceed them. Delivering on expectations is one of the most effective ways to build investor confidence and support. If you see that you won’t be able to meet expectations, it is important to provide timely updates or risk damaging the relationships you have worked so hard to build.
8. Communicate in good times and bad. Assess the impact of any good and bad news and then proactively communicate it to your shareholders. Never forget that you are telling a story, not selling it. While it might be tempting to circle the wagons and keep bad news from getting out, we would advise that is exactly the wrong strategy to take. Your reputation will thank you.
7. Proactively reach out to your targets and be patient. Develop a list of investors mostly likely to be interested in your story and take the time to reach out. Attracting a new investor is often the result of multiple meetings and building a strong rapport to help them feel comfortable with your financials, management team, and strategic growth plan. Staying connected helps to retain valued investors.
6. Know Regulation Fair Disclosure (Reg FD) inside and out. Stay “on message” and avoid material, nonpublic information (MNPI). Know what you can and cannot say to investors and understand that disclosing MNPI can irreparably harm your personal and company reputation. We recommend a comprehensive disclosure policy and a cheat sheet for dissecting their questions with answers solely within the realm of publicly available information.
5. Be realistic about sell-side coverage. The unfortunate reality is that it is expensive for securities firms to provide research coverage – and without deal fees or high trading volume, it is difficult to obtain coverage. While we don’t recommend paying for research, providing robust and easily accessible information can spur analysts to learn more about your investment thesis and make it easier to follow your company.
4. Tell them, tell them what you told them, and tell them again. Repetition is a tried and true way to get a message across, but it has added value when people are easily distracted. We recommend communicating through multiple platforms to get traction in the capital markets, including quarterly conference calls, presentations, websites, fact sheets, ESG reports and/or explainer videos.
3. Be mindful of your peers, but don’t just follow their lead. Instead of being preoccupied with your peers, focus on the unique strengths that differentiate your company from the competition. We recommend identifying the key metrics that benchmark your company’s progress and report those metrics quarterly.
2. Ignore your stock price (yes, you heard that right). You know the adage, “A watched pot never boils?” This one might take some getting used to, but your operational performance will move the needle. Never issue news releases for the sake of moving your stock price. The key is quality, not quantity.
And, the NUMBER ONE core element of an effective IR program is....
1. YOUR REPUTATION IS EVERYTHING!! Credibility with the Street is critical to any successful IR program. Investors will quickly get turned off and stop listening if they believe you are over-promising. Management must have a no-nonsense commitment to uphold its reputation.
Make it easy for analysts and investors to find the information they need. Analysts and investors are busy people and have competing demands for their time. If the investment community can’t find the data they need quickly, or feel that you aren’t sufficiently transparent, they may move on and invest in another company. We recommend an interactive investor relations section of your website with navigational access to filings, releases, events, presentations, and corporate governance disclosures.