Philippa Ellis, Governance & Investor Relations
People spend an enormous amount of time and money developing new health and fitness plans to reach their fitness and wellbeing goals each year. Applying similar techniques to your annual Investor Relations (IR) plan will keep you energised and focused on achieving successful outcomes.
Establish Achievable Goals
You may not be ready to compete in an ultra-marathon next year, but signing up and participating in your local 5km parkrun is certainly a realistic goal. When developing your annual IR plan, you need to set equally realistic expectations. For example, expecting to grow your capitalisation from a mid-cap to a large-cap in just a few months is likely an unrealistic benchmark. Instead, focus on more achievable metrics, such as meeting with a greater number of investors, attending more conferences, increasing trading volume or hosting your first investor day. Meeting these goals will support your ultimate goal of maximising shareholder value.
Unfortunately, there is no pill that you can take to achieve instant weight loss or meet your desired fitness results. It requires old-fashioned hard work and a healthy diet. Similarly, you need to work just as hard on your stakeholder engagement and outreach strategy every day in order to drive measurable IR results.
- Develop a long-term calendar of IR events and stick to it. Don’t make excuses for not attending events. Just because the most recent earnings were not in line with expectations, doesn’t mean you should avoid attending an upcoming investor conference.
- Be sure that you have a follow-up strategy in place to keep analysts and potential investors up-to-date on new developments. Investors do not typically buy into a company after just one meeting.
- Have a working pipeline of news releases in place to serve as updates on your company’s strategic progress.
In fitness, there will always be a debate over how effective supplements, such as energy drinks or protein shakes, are at improving your results. Some swear by them while others prefer to go supplement free. In Investor Relations, service providers are like supplements that can help support the effectiveness of your IR program. There are service providers that can help with investor targeting, arranging meetings, shareholder identification, stock surveillance, video production, social media products etc. Test them out to determine the most effective provider to help you innovate your programme and meet your goals. Remember there is no “one-size-fits-all” IR programme – use supplements wisely to stand out from the crowd.
Hire a Trainer
At the gym, even the experienced athletes can benefit from working with a trainer. Consider the option of engaging an IR firm. It is often valuable to get an outside perspective on how to improve your programme to drive better results. IR consultants can help you transition from being reactive to proactive in your IR engagement and outreach efforts. Make sure the one you select understands your goals and that the chemistry is right. After all, you will need to welcome them in as a trusted partner in order for them to be most effective.
Everything comes full circle. Whether it’s monthly, quarterly or annually, you will need to measure your results. In fitness, you can track your progress by measuring weight loss, improved stamina, changes in your diet, etc. Most importantly, at the end of the year you need to ask yourself if you feel fit and healthy. Measuring results also are important in IR. The success of an IR program can be measured on everything from relationships with the investment community to the growth of the company’s social media following. Produce a results’ report on the metrics you determined at the start of the year and deliver it to management and your Board, if possible. Also, use these results to develop your plan for the following year.
Keep these five steps in mind as you think about your annual IR plan and where you want to be at the end of the year. Challenge yourself, physically and professionally — and get “IR fit” in 2017/18.