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The Westwicke Blog is designed to deliver information and insights into the ever-changing world of healthcare communications.

Fine-Tune Your IR Website for Success

Posted on May 13th, 2014. Posted by

One of the first places investors look to learn about and form an opinion of your company is your investor relations (IR) website. Often a microsite accessible from your corporate website, your IR site puts at investors’ fingertips the data and information they need to evaluate your company and make decisions about investing.

Yet IR websites do more than provide investors and sell-side analysts with numbers and percentages. Done well and meticulously maintained, they communicate who you are as a company and enable you to cultivate relationships and build trust, not just with the investment community but also with the media, your board, the corporate community, and the general public.

None of that can happen, though, when your fact sheet hasn’t been updated for the last three quarters or your pages are full of obsolete or broken links. IR websites take constant maintenance and are, in large part, a matter of operations. When you create one, know that the job doesn’t end with the launch of your site, and appoint the right team members to keep it current and relevant, and to provide regular analytics reports that track your traffic and help you gauge interest.

What, exactly, does a good IR website include? How can you create one that raises your company’s credibility and gives investors what they need? IR websites need to match the look and feel of your corporate site, but they don’t need bells and whistles. Investors don’t want to hunt and peck for information, and they don’t want frills. They want to find what they need quickly and easily, with minimal clicking and no distractions.

The essentials

When existing or potential shareholders visit your site, they expect to find a core set of information that they can access from your IR homepage, so make sure you include these essentials.

Press room and financials – Your press room and financials are the biggest draw to your IR website, so they need to be prominent, easy to navigate, and kept fresh and up to date. A regular stream of news releases can keep investors engaged and informed about what’s happening with your company. Include on your IR site a full-fledged press room equipped with your news releases about the products you’ve launched, regulatory approvals you’ve gained, awards you’ve won, and more. Also feature your executive and corporate information and your logos, along with succinct highlights and news about your financial performance.

Corporate governance – This is a must-have for your IR website and essential to building trust and confidence not only among your investors but also your customers and the general public.

An outgrowth of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, your corporate governance is the set of systems, principles, and procedures that defines how your company is governed. It explains your company’s relationship with stakeholders; its procedures for resolving conflicts among stakeholders; its board of directors, along with their bios and committee assignments; and its system of checks-and-balances. It also reflects your level of corporate responsibility and is a key determinant in how transparent you come across to investors and the media.

United States Securities and Exchange Commissions (SEC) and financial filings – These include your quarterly and annual reports (and other periodic reports) that public companies are required by law to submit to the SEC’s Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Reporting system (EDGAR). Investors and the general public can access and search EDGAR to learn about company finances, operations, and goals, plus any allegations of fraud, insider trading, or violations. But don’t send them there to search for your documents. House your SEC filings on your own site, and make your documents available for investors to download in multiple formats, such as HTML, PDF, Word, and Excel.

Events, presentations, and webcasts – Investors want to know where you’re going and what you’re doing, so include a calendar of events on your IR website, plus a way for your audiences to receive notifications of upcoming events like investor days, road shows, earnings releases, and conferences. Just be sure to keep this section current and to weed out old events — this is a best practice in building and maintaining IR websites, and can prevent confusion caused by outdated information.

Also provide videos or replays of your presentations and webcasts so investors can access and watch these on their own time. Consider, too, featuring the slide deck of your latest investor day front and center on your IR site homepage — this can be an effective way for your audiences to see a comprehensive view of your story.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Investors have many questions that they need to have answered quickly, and a robust FAQs section can significantly cut down on the number of phone calls and emails your receive. When you write your FAQs, think about the questions your investors most often ask, and provide clear, concise, up-to-date explanations.

Coverage by analysts – Make available a list of analysts covering your company, and what firms they work for. Sell-side analysts play a powerful role in the marketplace, and being associated with high-quality analysts will help build a positive perception of your company.

Stock information – Here, include your latest stock quote, a stock chart that tracks your performance over time, and historical data on your performance. Many companies opt to use stock tickers (available as widgets) that display performance in real time — a handy tool because it gets rid of the need to constantly update your quote. Know, however, that there can be drawbacks to monitoring your stock fluctuations too closely, and reasons to avoid stock tickers.

Interactive stock charts and cost calculators are other good options because they allow investors make fast comparisons across indices and companies and determine potential gains or losses.

Streamline your communications – Once you’ve assembled the essentials of your site, you will need to create ways for investors to access and stay current on your information without having to visit your site. Embed sign-ups for email alerts that send updates and reminders; create a channel for submitting inquires; and consider setting up social media platforms (Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+) that push out content tailored to your investment and corporate communities. These options will let your audiences decide how to stay in touch with your company, and you’ll be able to track and monitor all of the activity.

While building an effective IR website might be a no-frills, somewhat straightforward project, pulling together the many pieces and figuring out how to maintain it take strategy and work. Essentially, what you are doing is synthesizing complex information and processes — and packaging them in a cohesive, easy-to-navigate whole for key constituents.

If you need help developing or improving your IR website, Westwicke can partner with you to create the site you need. Get in touch to find out how.

Tom McDonald

Tom McDonald is a Partner/Managing Director and Head of Business Development. He is responsible for marketing the firm’s capabilities to potential new clients as well as the institutional investment community.

View full bio   |   Other posts by Tom McDonald

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