Over the past few weeks, cities, states, and businesses have begun taking measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19. For many companies, that means encouraging or requiring employees to work from home. For others, it means cancelling conferences, meetings, and investor days.
While these measures are critical and necessary for the wellbeing of the country, businesses must now face this new normal and determine how to stay visible and keep their companies moving forward. Below, our team shares their wisdom as your company determines how to keep business moving — through investor meetings, analyst days, and other events — in the face of the coronavirus.
The COVID-19 epidemic, falling stock prices, a State of Emergency — with all this going on, it is easy to rationalize slipping away and hiding in a bunker until this passes. We believe, however, that it is important in these times of uncertainty to do your best to stay visible with investors. Virtual events, including virtual analyst days, are a great opportunity and efficient way to keep your investors informed on the fundamentals of your business. Speaking from experience, investors are using this recent market correction to find new ideas that they may have missed out on. Make sure you remain visible with investors by leveraging the benefits of virtual roadshows and analyst days so that you are the company investors want to buy when these market risks subside.
Management teams need to be open to beefing up their virtual communications capabilities to maintain active investor communications. Milestones need to be met as promised and virtual is the workaround to offset a data presentation at a cancelled medical meeting. In one instance, a client company plans to go ahead with a webcast data presentation for investors at the same time it would have been at the medical meeting that has been cancelled. Staying front and center with investors is paramount and flexibility is key.
Companies should follow the lead of businesses across the country and change investor days to a virtual meeting format. Analysts scheduled to attend will already have the time for a virtual meeting blocked off, making scheduling relatively easy. The company will benefit from acting decisively. My discussions with clients indicate a preference for voice calls, with the perception that video can be a distraction.
While you can go virtual, also consider if you can postpone for a few months. This might be the best option for companies that have products to physically show off, such as medical device companies — especially if they have new products. Analysts and investors often really like the hands-on aspect of those analyst days and gain insight by holding devices and even trying them out. If schedules allow, a delay of a few months might be the best solution.
The answer to any client’s inquiry about if they should adjust their plans is most certainly “yes.” The question then becomes if they should cancel, postpone, or host the event virtually. I would recommend that if a client can reserve space at the same location in September or October, then they should do that. However, the circumstances and content of these meetings vary so widely depending on the company, so if they are announcing really valuable or timely information at the analyst day, they should do it virtually.
Virtual meetings are more accepted now compared to years past, and with the right technology, you can support a seamless experience, featuring video of the speakers and slides at the same time.
If the content for the investor/analyst day was more of an update and it can be postponed until later in the year, then that is an option. If the reason for the investor/analyst day is to present new clinical data that now cannot be presented at a medical meeting or is materially meaningful, then I suggest continuing with the event as planned in a virtual manner — a webcast with slides and Q&A.
COVID-19 has created uncharted waters for businesses — but even through difficult times, it’s important to stay visible. If you need more guidance during this challenging time, please feel free to reach out.