By Jim Buckley
I recently led a workshop session at the NIRI National conference entitled Time to Invest in Your Company’s Investor Day. The workshop featured a deep dive on all the fundamental components and strategic aspects of an Investor Day, or Analyst Day as some people still prefer. The session was very comprehensive and included a panel with three of today’s best and brightest IROs. (Ok, full disclosure, I handpicked Alexia, Jennifer and Jerry.)
We collectively shared our Investor Day wisdom and experiences, including the Good, the Bad and the Ineffective. The response to the panel, particularly in some follow-up discussions, was decidedly positive. Given that a few folks have asked me recently for supplemental materials – which are available to conference attendees here – I thought I would share some of the key takeaways, as well as appending the “Investor Day Do’s and Don’ts” handout that was developed for the session.
- The investment community highly values these events. While it’s a major commitment of time on their part, the Street generally loves Investor Days. Be it a sell-side analyst or institutional investor, it’s a one-stop shop opportunity (when done correctly) for them to hear a company’s narrative told to its fullest extent by the broader management team. For those familiar with the company, it affords them an all-inclusive view of the corporate story, growth strategy, product/service roadmap, industry landscape and bench strength. And for newbies, it often enables them to get quickly immersed in the company’s value proposition and get up to speed more swiftly.
- Take the Street’s temperature beforehand. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown perception study, but be sure to reach out to at least a handful of your key Street contacts ahead of time. Investment community members are never short on opinions – use that to your advantage. Ask them about the timing, the location(s) you are considering, who they would like to hear from, and whether a product demo or customer panel makes sense, etc. The insight you gather can help shape the themes and messages that get weaved into the presentations, and can make for a more productive event for attendees.
- All hail the master timeline. Putting together an effective Investor Day from scratch is typically a six-month love affair. There are an incredible amount of variables and moving parts to be coordinated, beginning with nailing down the actual date and location. As any of my fellow panelists can confirm, scheduling rehearsals and enforcing presentation deadlines with executive management is like herding cats. Using a master timeline and getting management’s buy-in on key milestones early will save you a significant amount of stress and avoid headaches later in the process.
- Investor Days must be webcast (or videocast). Given Reg. FD, this advice seems fairly straightforward, but surprisingly some companies still resist offering online accessibility to their Investor Days. In addition to the disclosure risks and lack of transparency related to a closed event, members of the Street are following more companies now than ever before and oftentimes today have a more limited travel budget. Therefore, having online access is critical to not only maximize participation, but to avoid alienating any key stakeholders. Plus, webcasts tend to generate transcripts, which offer another avenue of visibility for companies.
- Change you can believe in. According to the latest update on the social media revolution, one in five couples now meet online, but more importantly, that video confirms what we should already know – social media is reshaping the world…and Investor Days are no different. You can now tweet the highlights of your event live or post your presentation on SlideShare or upload photos on Flickr or share related corporate videos on YouTube. In fact, a video Corning made for its Investor Day called “A Day of Glass” now ranks as the most watched corporate online video of all-time. While many companies are still adopting a cautious approach to social media and IR, the options for “pushing” your Investor Day messages through a variety of online channels are continuing to multiply.
- Whatever can go wrong eventually does. When a plane lands, it’s not news – only when crashes… Along the same lines, some of the horror stories shared at the workshop would certainly qualify as news – ranging from the funny (a CEO’s mic being on while he headed to the men’s room) to the queasy (attendees getting seasick on a boat) to the annoying (pulled fire alarm/construction noise/power outage/leaky ceiling) to the sad (the death of an Investor Day attendee). Suffice to say that after coordinating Investor Days for 18 years, I can confirm that as long as you subscribe to Murphy’s Law when planning your event, you’ll be just fine. Also, take the opportunity to read up on the latest Investor Day trends, use NIRI as a resource, talk to other IROs and most of all, be prepared.
And lastly, here are some quick do’s and don’ts to consider when you are getting ready for your next Investor Day adventure.
- Get management’s buy-in early, particularly on budget, location and presenters
- Try to time the event to coincide/follow a major announcement
- Check conference/ peer IR schedule before finalizing date
- Create and maintain a master timeline
- Use the event as an opportunity to showcase the extended management team
- Be selective about outside speakers and customers – look for strong proponents
- Reach out to sell-side and top buy-side for topics to be covered
- Create a targeted invite list
- Agree on the key messages/themes for the event in advance
- Include a review by legal before finalizing presentations
- Advocate for presentation training for all speakers
- Conduct Reg. FD training for all presenters and company guests, such as board members
- Consider hiring a design firm to refresh/overhaul presentations
- Carefully proofread all presentations again before final printing/binding
- Check with marketing to see if they have items that can be used for giveaways
- Shop around and negotiate with all service providers
- Push back on costs with hotel
- Conduct post-event follow-up survey/perception study
- Cancel once you announce the event
- Settle for less than ideal room accommodations
- Book a space that is too large or too small
- Limit your invitation list to only sell-side
- Forget to webcast the event
- Fail to remember to shut off microphones when not presenting
- Overlook having a back-up plan or “Plan B” for audio equipment
- Restrict the important Q&A period
- Host the meeting near the end of a quarter
- Hire your key vendors based on cost only
- Allow management to present without rehearsing
- Give away anything expensive or frivolous