Over the past several weeks, more than half of the companies within the Dow Jones Industrial Average have reported a material impact of the COVID-19 virus on their results, outlook, or both. That impact varies greatly for companies based on exposure and industry. However, post-year-end earnings, companies need to maintain an ongoing dialogue with investors around any potential impact COVID-19 may have on the supply chain, operations, and overall financial performance.
But even if you’re in one of the industries whose financials won’t be impacted by COVID-19, your IR program likely will be.
With whispers of lower attendance at conferences, canceling of major conferences and/or NDRs, you need to rethink the tactical elements of your IR program and how best to proceed in the current environment.
Do you have to shut down all marketing and meetings with investors? The answer is a resounding “No.”
In fact, it’s likely that the recent sell-off and volatility may have left your stock in a free fall, making it more important than ever to keep the communication lines open with investors. How you’re meeting with them, however, may need to change. Here are four tactical approaches that can help:
- Overcommunicate with corporate access teams and sell-side analysts.
If you have an upcoming NDR planned, it’s worth picking up the phone to ask the host if all meetings on the schedule have been confirmed. With a rapidly developing flow of news and information, it’s important to communicate early and often to understand how meeting schedules are changing.
- Consider and prepare for virtual options.
To avoid the possibility of investors cancelling all together, make sure the hosts of any upcoming NDRs or conferences know that you are willing to take virtual meetings. Then, do the legwork to have teleconferencing systems in place and ready to offer as alternatives as needed. Not only will you seem flexible and accommodating, you’ll also ensure you don’t miss out on the chance to speak with investors who are pulling back on travel.
With some major companies now beginning to cancel or postpone Investor Days, IROs with these important events coming up may need to make difficult decisions about the best course of action. At Clermont Partners, we would not typically recommend a virtual Investor Day. However, it may be worth keeping this option on the back burner should the virus and concern continue to spread. A virtual Investor Day is obviously better than no Investor Day, and if you consider this option early, you’ll have time to plan your strategy for making it as effective as possible.
- Punch up the resources on your IR site.
New investors who usually use conferences and NDRs to get to know your company may now be looking at the resources available on your IR site with greater scrutiny, making these resources more important than ever. Now is the time to ensure you have a “Company 101” section of the website site, which could include an investor factsheet, informative or “back to the basics” investor presentation, comprehensive investor FAQs, and dynamic content available. With a likely pullback on the number of face-to-face management meetings, interactive video content is also an excellent option to give investors the opportunity to watch and hear from your CEO or CFO.
- Stay tuned and stay flexible.
Above all else, remember that COVID-19 is a developing topic. Approach, travel plans, and investor communication needs may evolve quickly. Having a plan B, and even a plan C or D in place, and thinking creatively about your virtual options and how you can make them high-impact will help ensure you are ready to respond.