How do you balance your investor relations (IR) activities with the other demands on your time as a management team? How can you best align your investor relations efforts with your overall corporate strategy and messaging? Here are several tips to help ensure that the strategic investor relations plan you create at the beginning of the year will deliver the desired results:
- Define your goals. In order to be successful you must identify the outcomes you want to achieve. Decide if you are trying to increase your visibility, broaden your shareholder base and/or increase sell-side coverage. Be specific with your goals and create metrics that you can use to evaluate your effectiveness.
- Allocate your time. As a senior executive of a life sciences, medical technology or healthcare services company, you have many demands on your time. Ask yourself, “How much time can I afford to devote to investor relations?” While being visible is important, you don’t want to be overexposed. Your shareholders, the Street and your employees want to know that you spend more time managing your business than worrying about your stock price.
- Choose your venues to meet the buy-side. At investor conferences, you can efficiently meet a large number of accounts in a series of short meetings, which may include more than one account. Non-deal road shows, on the other hand, allow for a longer meeting with a bigger investment team from only one account. We tend to favor the quality of non-deal road show meetings over the quantity of conference meetings. Regardless of your venue, you need to work hand-in-hand with the sponsor of the meeting to ensure you are meeting with the accounts that are of most interest to you.
- Make time for the sell-side. Carve out time to meet with the sell-side analysts covering your company, as well as those you hope will cover you in the future. It is important to build on your relationships with the analysts that currently cover the company and ensure that they are fully up to speed on your story. Regardless of whether you currently need more analysts or not, it is good practice to consistently cultivate new relationships, as analysts may stop covering your company or change firms. The more people who know your story, the more they can communicate it to the Street.
- Pick your partners. In the investment world, the buy-side rewards the sell- side for providing access to a company’s management team. Thus, utilizing your sell-side analysts to help you facilitate buy-side meetings is a great way to support sell-side analysts that coverage. Determine which of your sell-side analysts are the most active and supportive and decide whether you’ll partner with them at their annual investor conference, through a non-deal road show, or both. Communicate your plans to them and get dates and territories penciled in early in the year.
- Assess your corporate news flow. Aside from quarterly financial reporting, what other opportunities will likely exist for generating company news? Do you have product development milestones (e.g., clinical trial results), new product launches, or business development transactions in the works? Consider the timing of these events to ensure your corporate communications milestones and IR activities will align.
- Consider “special” events. These events can provide investors and analysts with a more in-depth view of your company, your present and future products and your management team. Many companies will choose to host an analyst/investor day (See our related post on Do’s and Don’ts for a Successful Analyst Day.) Alternatively, you could provide tours of your company’s booth at an upcoming medical conference, or host a small dinner. Some companies will also facilitate access to customers or arrange for investors to view a medical procedure.
- Create a calendar. Now that you’ve determined your time commitment to investor relations, and when and how you will interact with analysts, spread out your activities on an annual calendar. Be mindful of earnings seasons and quiet periods. Be aware of the timing of investor conferences and key medical meetings and try to avoid scheduling a non-deal road show during those events. Also, make the most of planned business trips and consider adding IR activities to your itinerary (e.g., if you’re a West Coast CEO and have a trip to London planned for November try to meet a few U.K. investors while there.)
- Stick to the plan. If you have fully allocated the time you want to spend on IR, avoid the temptation to say “yes” to the new requests that will invariably come in throughout the year (see #2 above.) While you should consider each request carefully, your default answer should be, “We are fully committed for this year but will consider it for next year,” unless the request comes from your dream analyst who doesn’t currently cover your company or provides the opportunity to see a key targeted buy-side account that you have been trying to meet.
Taking the time to plan now – early in the year – and following these tips will help you and your company to execute its investor relations program in a strategic, methodical way. For more information on investor relations planning and execution, subscribe to our RSS feed, sign up for our newsletter or contact us.