The demands and expectations placed on the average investor relations team are anything but average — if anything, meeting those output objectives is only becoming more challenging.
The typical IR gauntlet includes tougher regulatory compliance, higher legislative standards, heightened financial filing scrutiny and growing globalization dynamics — not to mention that all this must be balanced while supporting commercial goals and protecting the corporate reputation. That's enough to cause the staunchest IRO to fantasize about taking the company private.
However, the rise of digital assets such as webcasts, live video streaming, on-demand webinars, presentation archives and interactive graphics available through an IR website can help you meet those challenges head on.
Not only can a robust array of IR digital assets enhance the user experience, they may help extend analyst coverage, boost external perceptions and investor engagement, extend the global reach and quality of your message and drive additional funding.
This is not hyperbole — it's highly possible.
Website content can make or break analyst interest
Consider a June 2016 Rivel Research Group survey that found that 75 percent of buy-side professionals reported that their interest in a company declined if the company had a poorly designed website that lacked key digital assets such as archival annual reports and presentations. The same survey found that nearly two-thirds of respondents thought favorably of a company with a well-designed, feature-rich website.
And what are the top digital assets the financial community wants on IR webpages? An article in the January 2015 edition of IR Magazine sheds some light on those preferences, citing an Extel survey of more than 400 portfolio managers and analysts who ranked webcasts as the second most critical component behind corporate presentation decks.
It's fairly clear that analysts and investors don't merely want financial information — they want "financial information 2.0" manifested in myriad digital asset formats.
Webcasting offers enhanced reach and content
Executives and financial audiences are accustomed to the tried-and-true audio-only teleconference for discussing quarterly results, but there are limitations to that communications model. There may be attendance restrictions based on the number of purchased audio ports or limited analytics of attendees, and audience participation is restricted to listen-only mode with single-line question submissions.
Beyond those drawbacks, audio conferences will soon cast a stagnant pall on organizations slow to adopt video streaming or webcasting.
Conversely, benefits of using a webcast include the fact that many questions can be submitted at once, placed in the queue and asked anonymously to spark more candid discussion. Host companies can gather additional information on participants as well as the attendees' activities during the presentation — such as what slides were looked at the most and longest.
Another benefit of webcasting to the hosting company is the ability to establish security settings to control the access and flow of information to authorized users (and keep competitors and hackers out). Furthermore, archived webcasts and webinars have extended reach and can be viewed anytime from anywhere, globally.
Additionally, some webcasting services allow for captioning functionality if the viewer is unable to listen to the audio portion. If you're still not convinced, consider that large-cap companies like IBM, General Electric, Texas Instruments, Thomson Reuters and Colgate-Palmolive embrace webcasting as a trusted IR tool.
Mobile engagement enhances convenience
It used to be that investor relations equated mobility with a physical roadshow that traipsed executives around the country to invitation-only events. That's no longer the case given the nearly universal penetration of smartphones. More and more organizations are making mobile optimization a top priority of their IR content strategy.
Your IR audience is mobile, so your multimedia investor relations content needs to be mobile, as well.
Investor relations teams that are truly customer-focused recognize that effective engagement and interaction must exceed the accessibility needs of a culture that's constantly on the go.
One company that has developed a highly engaging mobile app specifically for its investor relations function is Aberdeen Asset Management, which enables users to "... get the latest share price, news and information from Aberdeen Asset Management ... (as well as) review financial reports and presentations both online and offline."
Such apps can definitely provide high ROI, as they allow for enhanced functionality and convenience for the end user.
Video streaming provides enhanced engagement
It's important to remember that digital content such as video can be informative and entertaining. A notable example is T-Mobile CEO, John Legere, whose current videocasts are not merely "infotainment"; they help differentiate his company's maverick "un-carrier" brand via their high viewership rates and engagement metrics.
Legere leverages videocasting as a core IR competency with his expanding use of video blogs, annual report messages and live-streaming earnings calls. His video activities are directly correlated with a 5x multiplier in his company's stock price since he took over in 2012. T-Mobile has elevated and advanced a medium pioneered by IR groups from early tech players such as Yahoo!, Dell and Netflix.
Video can also be a powerful tool for SEO, especially since Google owns YouTube. It's important to include relevant text in the video title, description and back-end search term fields when uploading it to YouTube before posting the link to your IR page.
Whether it's webcasts, streaming video, on-demand webinars, mobile apps, augmented graphics or any number of other digital elements — the more options you provide financial stakeholders, the better. Those tools will drive a greater level of enhanced engagement as well as stronger relationships with those critical stakeholders in the short term, contributing to enhanced results and financial outcomes in the long term.