Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It’s Investor Conference Season. How Can IR Make Better Use of Them?

Investor conferences are often a waste of time.

Public companies attend, present – and HOPE that institutional investors show up, are engaged, request more info, and ultimately invest.

Unfortunately, it rarely happens that way.

Instead, conferences are typically packed with concurrent public company presentations competing for the attention of a limited number of institutional investors. As a result, it’s difficult for companies to stand out.

But, thanks to the Internet, investor conferences can be a lot more valuable to public companies – making their time and associated costs much more justifiable.

As I’ve written in the past, the CEO’s conference presentation pitch is typically the most valuable 15-20 minutes of information public companies can offer potential investors. It’s a company’s story in brief.

But, strangely, while public companies attend investor conferences to pitch their stories to anyone who will listen, they rarely also make use of the most valuable, scalable delivery platform available to them: the Internet.

The Internet has the potential to deliver a company’s message to a much broader audience than simply investor conference attendees. And, of course, that online audience includes substantial numbers of institutional investors.

So how can public companies use the Internet to spread their CEOs' investor conference messages?

First, public companies could choose to webcast their CEOs' presentations for the sake of the countless investors researching stocks online. A surprising number of companies continue not to do so.

Second, companies could promote their CEOs' presentations and provide a direct webcast link via press release. They could also post webcast links prominently on their IR websites. Again, few companies do so.

Third, companies could transcribe their CEOs' presentations and provide them free of charge on their IR websites -- where they can be quoted from and/or linked to by the countless financial bloggers writing daily online.

Finally, companies could disseminate key quotes from their conference presentations on social media. As Zillow has clearly shown, Twitter is a highly effective way of continuing the conversation around earnings call events far past the day of earnings release. The same is possible for CEOs’ investor conference presentations.

All of these action items are possible with limited effort and cost. They allow public companies to better leverage their investor conference presentations. It gives them the ability to control their messages, scale them, and increase the chances they reach a substantially larger group of institutional investors than simply conference attendees.

Aside from quarterly earnings calls, public companies have few opportunities to pitch new investors. Investor conferences are one of those few opportunities. If only public companies made better use of them.

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