The following is a modified article that I wrote for, and was featured in, Canadian Investor Magazine (V2I1). For magazine enquiries please visit www.canadianinvestor.com :
So what do you do?
““So what do you do?” That’s usually the second question I am asked by most border guards and custom agents. My reply is often, “Investor Relations,” which always leads to a blank stare. In this profession, travel is almost always a requirement, and it can be a blessing and a curse. I love to travel, but those awkward custom agent conversations wear me down.
I don’t blame the agents; I am still trying to explain to my wife exactly what it is I do. So the issue must be with my profession or my explanation. Unfortunately, the Investor Relations profession is still not well understood. So let me try to explain what (IROs) Investor Relations Officers actually do. If you understand their role in the company, it may make it easier for you to engage with them, and dig a bit deeper into your current or next potential investment.
What do we do?
Simply put, our job is to explain our company to the investment world. But it’s usually not that simple. Most companies are extremely complex, so the explanations tend to be that way as well. Our audience is quite diverse; so we need to craft a slightly different message for each type of investor. That means telling our company story in a way that is meaningful to each one, providing the key information they are looking for. We speak to retail investors, institutional investors, analysts, sophisticated high net worth investors, stock brokers, fund managers and various stakeholders in the company. IROs are also the gatekeepers to the senior executives. CEOs and CFOs do not have time to speak to every investor that calls the company with questions. The IRO handles all incoming calls leaving the senior executives to run the company.
Like many investors, I am a fan of Warren Buffet. He has a special way of explaining complex scenarios that both novice and sophisticated investors can understand. He likes to pretend he is speaking to his two sisters. I like that, but I twist it a bit and pretend I am speaking to my uncle the customs agent. I need to be able to explain my story to him quickly and clearly so he can understand it and then send me on my way. I also don’t want to provide any false or misleading information which might get me locked up.
How do we do it?
Although communication methods have changed in recent times with the rise of social media, the heart and soul of a great IRO is still their ability to interact and converse with investors. Great IROs have the ability to engage with their audience face to face or on the phone. But, the reality is, most public companies have hundreds or thousands of shareholders and speaking personally to each one of them is a daunting task. So how do most IROs communicate with the investment community? Most communication now happens online – at least to start anyway.
IROs invest a great deal of time in the corporate website. All material corporate information must be located there and should be easy for investors to find. It must also remain current at all times to stay in compliance with security regulations. A seasoned IRO will know their company website inside and out and will be able to speak to each section in depth and provide colour to areas that may be filled with technical and industry jargon that may be confusing to the average investor. All corporate websites will have a “contact us” page and the IRO contact details will be provided there. Send the IRO an email with your specific question, or simply give them a call.
The communications world is rapidly changing, and social media is the main driver pushing these changes. In the past three to four years, I have seen early adopters in the public-company space, experiment with new technology that is enhancing investor communication possibilities. Public companies are using Facebook, LinkedIn, Slide Share, Twitter, blogs, Google Earth interactive platforms, Flickr and various other social networks to spread their company news and engage with their audience. The security regulators are trying to keep up to ensure disclosure policies are not being violated but it is an endless battle. The rules will need to change. Watch for companies to start disclosing material information in ways other than the traditional news wires.
What skills does a seasoned IRO possess?
Like any profession, IROs come in all sizes and shapes. There are no set standards or requirements to enter this career so there can be a huge variance in the skill sets between IROs. The Canadian Investor Relations Institute (CIRI) works hard to provide educational courses and, a professional certification with the IVEY school of Business, for advanced IROs. But the reality is, it’s a real mixed bag. Seasoned IROs will possess skills in finance, marketing, communications and securities law. The majority of IROs enter the profession with some of those skills and learn the rest on the job. Your IRO should be knowledgeable about the industry their company is in. They should know how the company is valued, they should be able to compare the company to its peers and they should be able to explain the company’s business drivers and how there company will drive shareholder value.
The great IROs are said to be a hybrid of a CEO and CFO. They can speak to the big picture of the company and also break down the financials to a granular level.
How should the IRO be able to help you?
Your IRO should be able to help you understand the company and explain all the technical, financial and industry jargon in everyday language. They should be able to answer your phone calls and emails in a timely fashion and guide you through the corporate website and help you locate any information you need. Good IROs can help you navigate your way through the traditional mailing materials you may receive like the Information Circulars, MD&A and Financial documents.
But don’t ask them to provide any insider information. They shouldn’t be providing any information to you that has not already be released to the market through proper disclosure policies. And they shouldn’t be telling you to buy the company stock. If they do, it’s time to sell.
Get to know your IRO
The IRO can be a great resource for any investor and I urge you to get to know the IROs of all the companies you invest in. If the company happens to be presenting in your community or showcasing themselves at an investment conference, take the time to the visit them and meet the IRO and the other senior executives.
I guess I am hopeful that one day, in my lifetime, a customs agent will ask my profession and then give me a knowing look and send me on my way. But, until that day comes, I’ll just smile, keep my story simple and be thankful that I have my Nexus card.
Jon Bey is the President /CEO of Steel Rose Communications in Vancouver, B.C. SRC is a boutique IR firm that specializes in Investor Relations services for publically listed Jr. Resource companies. Jon is a Board member of the BC Chapter of CIRI and is Professionally Certified in Investor Relations. Information on SRC can be found on their website at www.steelrosecommunications.com“
Like what you’ve read? I will be writing more articles for a few publications in the coming months, so look out for those
In the meantime, we have more good stuff on our blog, take a peek here. And, come on over and say hi on Twitter : @SteelRoseComm . You should also check out Canadian Investor Magazine on Twitter : @CanInvestorMag.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it!
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Congratulations, you have made it to the PDAC International Convention. For those unaware of this event, it is the mining industry’s version of March Madness. 30,000 attendees walking the investor exchange aisles in search of the rare gems, the exploration companies with the next “big discovery”.
Now that you are here, I hope you ready. It is your time to shine. You will be the face of the company, fielding a myriad of questions so you’d better be prepared.
So what should you do to prepare?
Create a Frequently Asked Questions list
Following our recent article on preparing for an Investor conference , I met with Nancy Goertzen, an IR consultant in Vancouver currently completing the CIRI/IVEY professional certification in Investor Relations. Nancy admitted she always prepares a frequently asked question list prior to working the booth at investor conferences. Here are the top 10 questions she is often asked.
1. Why should I buy shares in your company?
2. Are you going to be doing a financing soon?
3. Why isn’t your CEO here? Doesn’t He/She care about the company?
4. How many shares do you have? How many options do you have?
5. Is there going to be a rollback (of the stock)?
6. Are you going to be having a property tour of the mine site? Can I come?
7. I’ve heard that gold (insert commodity of your choice here) is going down, what do you think?
8. Management should do a better job of keeping the share price up. Do you have any management here so I can talk to them?
9. Someone in your company told me to buy shares at 2 dollars and now you’re down to 1 buck. Who can I talk to about that?
10. Will you meet me for drinks tonight?
Technical Questions over your head
Besides the generic questions, you may also be asked very specific geological questions at shows. If your knowledge level is high, fantastic – answer those questions. If the questions sound like a different language and are over your head, don’t try to answer them. Instead, explain that you are not a geologist but you would be happy to have your company geologist follow up.
Know your Team
You will also be asked about your management team, so you must know who all of your key people are. If you are new to the company, it is quite possible that you may not have met all of your company’s Sr. Management team or your Board of Directors. You still need to know who they are, where they are, and at least the information about their bios that can be found on the website. You should also figure out who your institutional investors and your significant shareholders are. Look them up and memorize their faces and something about them so that when they do present themselves at the booth or at some social function after booth hours, you will be able to receive them in a professional way.
Develop and grow your FAQ list
Your frequently asked questions list is a fluid document that is always changing. Record the questions you were asked at the show – especially the ones that caught you off guard – and add them to your list for the next show. During the show Tweet the questions you are asked the most, chances are your followers would like to know the answers as well. If this is your first time creating a list of FAQ’s, start by asking your peers and your management; they will have great insight and may be impressed with your preparedness.
Remember: “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”
What questions have we forgotten? How would you answer these questions? Drop us a note, and let us know. As always, we would love to hear from you and add you to our peer group, so please connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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In the world of investor relations, an IRO with a large rolodex of stock brokers can be very successful and in high demand. The trick is attaining that rolodex. Some say it can be bought, but I disagree. I am sure we have all been approached by people trying to sell us a contact list, but the rolodex is only as good as the relationships that the IRO has built with those brokers over time. So how do you build up your rolodex? You have to find a way to connect and build a relationship with each broker, and this is an ongoing exercise. The good news is, with the help of social networks, it is getting easier.
Are rookie brokers worth the time investment?
Not all brokers are the same; one seasoned broker, with a fantastic book of clients, can have more influence than one hundred rookie brokers just starting their careers. Does this mean you should focus your time on getting to know just the senior brokers? No not really. First of all, it’s very difficult to meet the top brokers; they aren’t usually the ones at the networking functions looking for clients and contacts. Secondly, if you want to build your network for future years, get to know those rookies as they will develop into the power brokers of the future.
So how do you meet your local brokers?
This is the hard part, it will require a herculean effort, and a staggering amount of time. You can’t sit in your office and just cold call them unless you are lucky enough to have the hottest company in town. You have to get out and network. Go to the tradeshows, to the coffee shops, the restaurants where they hang out, and the social events they attend and introduce yourself. Always carry a stack of your business cards and be prepared with your pitch of who you are, what you do, and why they would want to connect with you. Hopefully you have a current project worth speaking to them about but if you don’t, let them know you will in the near future.
Use your connections and get introduced.
I have always found that a warm introduction from a friend or contact helps make that initial conversation much easier – so leverage your contacts. This is another reason you should be networking. The more people you get to know, the more potential introductions you can benefit from. And remember, networking is a two way street and you should aim to pay it forward by giving more referrals than you ask for.
Are you plugged in to social networks?
If you are in investor relations and you are not set up on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – then either start immediately or leave the profession, because you are a dinosaur and about to become extinct. In a 2011 survey, ‘Social Media Use by Financial Advisors‘, Socialware found that 84% of brokers across North America are using social networks for business purposes and these numbers are up from 60% in 2010. The financial world is adapting and increasingly plugging in to these networks so it is becoming even easier to get an online introduction. Remember, if your goal is to establish a relationship with brokers then you need to be aware of social media etiquette. If you make a mistake here you may make that bad first impression and never get the face to face introduction you are striving for. Don’t think that just by joining these social media networks that hundreds of brokers are going to try and connect with you. It is still going to take a great deal of time and effort, but at least these online networks make it a bit easier. For example, on LinkedIn, you can scroll through all your friends contacts, and identify people you want to connect with. Then you just need to ask your friend to introduce you either in person or online. Presto – your rolodex is growing, and maybe your value as an IRO as well.
Need some help?
Get out there and network. There is a “mining connect” event coming up in Vancouver next week called Howe Street Gone Mad. http://revolvemarketing.ca/blog/howe-street-gone-mad-miningconnect-launch-party/. Hope to see you there!
If you would like more information on the socialware white paper on financial advisors use of social media, please follow this link: http://www.socialware.com/resources/overview/
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Puppies are the greatest
But, here’s the thing, … Puppies need to be taken care of.
And, as with your social media program, the time you invest at the start will make all the difference in years to come. So do it well; and if you need help, get it, you will be glad you did.
Learning to have pets
Puppies are a responsibility.
You need to feed them. You need to walk them. You need to love them. Pet them.
You need to give them a place to live. A space to play too, and let loose.
Dogs used to sleep in ‘doghouses’. Now they sleep at the end of your bed. ie. they are more a part of our lives than ever before. An extension of who we are. Our family.
People buy their dogs all sorts of toys, bones, booties, bells, and whistle; but your relationship really depends on the quality of the interaction with the dog.
Puppies/dogs are not free.
Learning to start a Social Media Program
Social Media is responsibility.
The tools are ‘free’, but the time commitment is not. What you do with it, and how well you do it, is up to you.
You don’t want to let your puppy down. If you are going to commit to doing social media, you might as well commit to doing it well.
Building your social media presence requires you to be a homemaker. Building your ‘castle’, whatever the size; but one that is inviting, full of love, acceptance, for you, and your loved ones.
Bells and whistles are neat and all, but your content creation is what you’re building. ‘Content is king’. Concentrate on interactions.
It can be overwhelming. Sometimes it is best to start with one puppy, and see what you can handle. Perhaps start by simply Monitoring social media, see what it is all about, and figure out where you fit in.
To reap the benefits of Social Media, you have to get involved. Pups thrive on a firm schedule – try to be consistent with your social media. You need to build your presence, you need to feed your followers with content, you need to utilize your network.
Puppies are the new Social Media (Tweet Me)
Social Media and Puppy Similarities
- Easy to fall in love with
- They are social, participate in your life
- Can alert you to potential threats
- Require a serious commitment
- Can be a distraction, and even annoying at times
- Require your attention, suffer without it
- Can make a real mess if left alone, and potentially cause serious damage
- Thrive on a firm schedule
- Benefits increase the more time you spend with them
Woof woof, paw paw
Perhaps you find social media overwhelming. Perhaps you can’t commit to doing it right by yourself. If you need some help, let us know, we are here to help.
Or, if you just want to tell us of your own puppy to social media comparisons, that’s cool too. We would love to hear them.
Woof you later!
(Related post : Puppies are the new Social Media Pt.1)
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Romeo and Juliet can teach us a lot about Social Media
But, before you test my Shakespeare knowledge, I am talking about Jon’s new puppies, Romeo and Juliet =========>
Romeo, Juliet, and Social Media
(intro by Jon Bey)
I have often heard that the answer to your question is usually right in front of your face. The secret of course is figuring out what that question is. Well as things happen sometimes, my question appeared at the end of business meeting in mid-December. I was asked if I wanted the perfect Christmas gift for my children – a puppy.
The answer was yes, we had actually been looking for a puppy, and the timing was right. The real shock was when I realised we were going home with two puppies, not one. My daughter instantly named the black, girl puppy Juliet, and the golden boy soon after inherited the name Romeo, which seemed to fit perfectly.
Once the puppies were home, and we started preparing the home, and ourselves, for the upcoming adventure; I soon recognised the similarities between the lessons we were going to teach our children about puppies, and the lessons we teach our clients about Social Media.
Puppies are the new Social Media
Puppies are new, exciting, fun.
Puppies are somewhat unknown. What makes them tick? What will they do next?
They are soft, warm, and fuzzy. Always playful. Always up for cuddles. Puppies are quite simply one of the easiest things to fall in love with.
Puppies lick and/or paw you when they want something. Sometimes they just bark; possibly warning you of some impending danger, someone lurking outside; or maybe they are just wondering where you are.
Puppies are ‘Man’s Best Friend’. They are always there for you, always ready to say hello, always ready for a walk, ready for some pats, ready to give back love.
Puppies are considered by many to be ‘more social than other pets’. They participate in your life. A source of wonder. A conversation piece with friends. Say hello to neighbours as you walk around the block. Meet new friends at the dog park.
Getting a new puppy can change your life
And, this is the way many people feel as they enter into the world of social media, elation as to the potential Social Media holds for you, and your business. Excited to get involved, eager to buy into their ‘new puppy’ experience.
Social Media generally does all the things mentioned above, and more.
In fact, ‘social never sleeps’. It’s always there. Always on. There is a constant conversation going on around you. Interact/engage, and it can be your best friend.
Through Monitoring your Social Media, you can gain insight into the conversation surrounding your brand, or lack thereof, perhaps even finding some issues that need to be resolved.
It is an opportunity to expand your horizons, find new things, get more information on issues you are interested in, meet new people, while building existing relationships.
Puppies are the greatest
But, here’s the thing, … (stay tuned for Puppies are the new Social Media Pt.2)
Woof woof, paw paw
(Related post : Puppies are the new Social Media Pt.2)
Woof you later!
… and, yes, here is a video of Romeo and Juliet …
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