The decision to host a company research and development (R&D) event for investors and analysts should not be taken lightly. Beyond the associated costs, the amount of time it takes to properly prepare is a big endeavor and can be a significant distraction to a company’s management team. When considering whether or not to host such an event, we recommend you think strategically and ask yourself if this is the right time. For example, does the company have an updated message, a new clinical program to reveal, or an updated story to tell? Bringing in the investment community for any one of these reasons makes sense.
However, without an appropriate reason to host an R&D event, you may actually draw a negative investor reaction or set inappropriately high investor expectations. They will wonder, Why now? Do you have something big to say?
I attended many R&D events in my 20+ years as a sell-side analyst. After each one, I reviewed what I had learned for the purposes of publishing an analyst report. Now, I think of a similar scenario from the company’s perspective: What are people going to say after attending an R&D update? What key messages will they take away?
Several important elements can help decide the quality of an investor event. Below are a few of the most critical steps in ensuring the event’s success.
- Plan well in advance. People’s schedules are busy, so the earlier you can get the event date on people’s calendars, the higher the probability of getting better investor and analyst attendance. Lock in key opinion leaders (KOLs) as soon as possible, since they tend to have very few open dates. While there is never a perfect time to host an R&D day, always try to avoid major conflicts with earnings, investor conferences, and large scientific meetings.
- Tackle the logistics. Each aspect of the event makes a difference in its overall success. The location, look and feel of the venue, and quality of the webcast all make an impact on attendees’ impressions. Hosting a professional event goes a long way in shaping how your company is perceived.
- Prepare a comprehensive and thoughtful slide deck. This is the company’s time to rebrand any themes that the Street has misunderstood and any new topics you want to introduce for the first time. Conveying a crisp, clear message around data, regulatory strategy, or commercial plans should be the top priority. Have a theme and deliver consistent messaging throughout all of the investor day communications. This extends to KOL presentations and also includes interviews that may be done with the media.
- You can’t over practice. Getting the content right is only half the battle. Do several rehearsals from start to finish. Focus on getting the positioning right, and tweak any confusing areas. Don’t neglect the Q&A session, and during your practice runs, make sure to address the hard questions that investors and analysts may ask. It’s always better to script out responses beforehand than answering the questions in a public forum for the first time.
- Follow-up after the event. What happens after the event is just as important as the preparation for the event. Following the event, begin gathering feedback. What did you do well? Are there pieces of your message that still need clarification or that sparked questions from investors? Evaluating results, both internally and externally, is important as you start thinking about the remainder of your investor relations strategy.
A well planned and executed R&D day can reinforce a company’s message, heighten a company’s visibility, and allow a management team to highlight their investment thesis. It can be an effective and efficient investor relations tool if done correctly. Start by asking your management team questions such as, “Why are we having a R&D event?” “What goal are we trying to accomplish?” and “What do we have to say that is new and different?” Then, be sure to plan accordingly and set expectations appropriately.
As you continue to develop your investor relations strategy, make sure to download our checklist, “6 Core Elements of an Effective IR Plan.”