Posts Tagged ‘IR game plan’

How to Succeed at Investor Conferences

February 28th, 2012 by Jon Bey

I received a call the other day from an individual new to Investor Relations. She had just been hired by a junior exploration company in Vancouver and was asked to represent her company at the upcoming PDAC mining conference in Toronto. This will be her first experience as an Investor Relations professional representing a company, and it just happens to be at the largest mining convention in the world. Now what?

Depending on whom you ask, these investor conferences can be of great benefit or a complete waste of resources. I believe they can be both. If you prepare properly and follow a game plan, these conferences can be extremely valuable. But, if you show up unprepared, it may be a fun experience but a complete waste of corporate funds and time.

I caught up with Bear Creek Mining’s Lisa May, an experienced IR professional, currently completing her professional Certification in Investor Relations from CIRI and the IVEY school of Business. We discussed investor conferences and came up with these four areas which are critical to the success of Investor Relations professionals.

4 pillars of a successful Investors Conference plan

There are four pillars to a successful investor conference plan. If you follow all four, you will have success and will have created value for your company. Miss any of these crucial pillars, and your conference might have been a waste of time and money.

1. Identifying the right conferences
2. Preparing for the conference
3. Executing the conference plan
4. Conference follow up – measurement of success

Identifying the right conferences for your company

First, you must understand your own company. You will need to figure out the basic facts about your company before you can figure out which conferences to attend. Next, find out from Sr. management what the corporate strategy is and why they want you to attend the conferences. Finally, use your detective skills to search for all potential industry specific conferences. Once you know these answers, it should be easy to identify the right conferences to attend.

• What industry are you in? (no brainer)
• Why does your company want to you attend the conferences? What is the strategy?
• What stage is your company in? (grass roots exploration, advanced exploration, mining)
• What’s your market cap size? (micro-cap, small cap, mid cap, large cap)
• Who are your company’s peers? (companies similar to yours)
• What conferences do your peers attend? – which ones do they recommend?
• What is your company willing to spend to attend the conferences? Some are expensive!
• Where does your management want to gain traction? – find investors, analysts, fund managers, brokers etc. (local, Canada, USA, Europe, Asia)
• Search online – maybe there are new conferences this year.
• Search through your social networks – ask what conferences to attend on Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook.

Preparing for the conference

Now that you have identified a few conferences that look intriguing, the next steps are to get registered for the conference and start the process of preparation. The registration is the easy part as long as the conference is open to all. You may find the conference you want to attend is by invitation only and your company may not meet the criteria this year. Once you have registered, the real work begins. The preparation stage is by far the most important.

• Identify the company goals for the conference. Why are you attending? (To gain retail investors, meet institutional investors, business development, or networking)
• Book all the conference extras (tables, chairs, carpet, insurance etc.)
• Book travel for you and your conference materials. (you may send your booth early)
• Do you have a conference booth? Is it current? Do you have a graphic designer to provide current material for the banners? Is your booth functional? How do you set it up, Test it out. Make sure you do a dry run in your office!
• Prepare the marketing materials: fact sheets, corporate presentations etc.
• Locate a local printer near the conference in case more materials are needed.
• Plan your schedule around the conference – what other events, meetings can you arrange for your management team?
• Invite investors, brokers, shareholders to visit you at the booth – by email and through social networks like: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
• Prepare your strategy and game plan for your days at the booth. How will you engage investors? How will you track your conversations?
• Prepare a list of frequently asked questions you will likely be asked at your booth and rehearse your answers
• Add the conference to the Calendar section of your company website – maybe highlight the conference on the homepage.
• Prepare a strategy to measure your success at the show – did you accomplish your goals?

Show time – During the conference

You have managed to get this far; now it is time to perform. I strongly recommend you arrive at least one day early and make use of the early set-up time for your booth. Sometimes they break or have issues that you will want to solve before the morning of the show. Once the doors open and the investors start to roll in, you need to be on your game. Try to have more than a few hours of sleep; this can be difficult at times. Here are a few tips once the investors start to walk the aisles.

• Don’t get worried if many investors don’t want to speak to you, each investor has different agendas and specific companies and sectors they follow.
• Start with a smile and a nice greeting to those that stop by your booth.
• Define roles of those in the booth. Are you manning the booth alone, or with the company CEO?
• Have a few good opening questions like: Have you heard of our company? Are you interested in copper? If that is your speciality, can I answer any questions for you?
• Don’t act like a used car salesman.
• Engage your audience; find out if they are a current shareholder, what kind of investor they are, how they hear heard about your company?
• Create an opportunity for follow-up.
• Create a spreadsheet and record details of the good meetings you had, and try to collect a business card or contact details.
• Tweet about the conference while it is occurring, inviting people to your booth to meet you.
• Try to attend any Tweet-ups you have been invited to – maybe create your own.
• Add the conference information to your corporate Facebook page and add daily updates and pictures of the events.
• Try to get some video footage of your CEO or management at the conference.
• Try to arrange some media coverage (perhaps an interview for your Sr. management).

Follow up and measurement of success – Was the conference a good return on investment?

Once the tradeshow is over and you have packed up the booth and sent it on its way, it will be time for a cold drink and a quick reflection on the success of the event. You may want to wait until you return home, but don’t procrastinate: do these before you move on to your next task and while your memories are fresh. Here’s what I do:

• Review your spreadsheet and compare it to your original goals – did you meet the number of retail and institutional brokers you had hoped?
• Did you meet your networking goals?
• Did you manage to arrange any business development meetings?
• Did you meet the shareholders that you invited to the booth?
• Were your social media and social network activities a success?
• Review your pre-conference checklist – did all go as planned? What changes would you make?
• Were you happy with the travel arrangements? Was the hotel acceptable?
• What events, activities did you not know about that you want to include for next year?
• Plan your follow-up with all the individuals you met with.
• Update your list of frequently asked questions.
• Create a document that you can share with Sr. management and the board showing them the company’s success at the conference and a plan to improve next year’s event.
• Plan your meeting with your CEO to review your compensation – you are surely due for a raise!

We hope this has been a helpful tool. Please contact us should you have any questions or would like assistance with any of your Corporate Investor Relations needs: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook. Talk soon, see you at the next Investors Conference!

Jon Bey – Steel Rose Communications

I read an article recently that made the blanket statement, ‘if you only have X # of followers, that you aren’t doing social media right'; that you only know what you are doing, if you have thousands of followers. But, I personally think that statement may be missing the point, certainly in some cases, on a few levels.

Missing the point?

First, as we showed you in another post, WHAT can you do with Social Media, there are many things you can do with social media in general: Monitor, Communicate, Connect, Collaborate. Now, I know some who have under 100 followers on Twitter, for example, but get tons out of social media. How? They simply aren’t using social media for connecting, they are using it for monitoring only. Point is, Social Media can be used in different ways, and calling someone out for only having a certain number of followers might miss the point of the their social media context.

New School

To take it out of this industry for a second; say you’re a high school football team, and all the kids use social media, and team information is disseminated using social media. It helps build team culture, it helps to keep the kids focused leading up to game time, it helps the kids stay focused when there isn’t a game for two weeks, talking about things they can do to practice their skills. They really get a lot out of it. But, the team only has 100 friends/followers/group members, including parents. Are they not doing social media right? Of course they are. They are creating value, and getting value, out of their interactions.

Context

From another post, “how you and your company will use social media, what you will do with it, depends on what your goals are.” And, in turn, who your audience is. Some audiences are smaller, and some are potentially larger, requiring you to cast a wider net. Focus on your goals and audience; defining what you are trying to do with social media, who you are trying to reach out to. Let that dictate the extent of your need for followers.

I am not arguing that having lots of followers isn’t a nice touch for many of our marketing needs, obviously it is. But, social media is more than just a game of compiling followers, and depends on your social media context.

Again, from another post, “There are many unique examples of internal and external uses of social media.’

Interactions over followers

Most importantly, “stress interactions over followers”(@jeffbooth, 90,000+ followers). If you can only really have 150 social relationships in your life, as suggested by Dunbar’s number , does it really matter if you have 70,000 followers? With all that potential noise, where’s the value in your social media? The value of social media is not in the noise, but in the interactions it helps to foster, create, and build.

Denouement

People, especially in this industry, really get tied into the numbers. They think that’s the game, and they want to win. Some people have 12,000 followers and don’t get that much out of social media(really, a friend of mine has 12,000 followers, but calls it all ‘fluff’). And, some have less than 100, but get tons out of it.

Remember 2 things

1) Who is your audience? What are your goals with your social media? What is your social media context?

2) Even if your goal is communicating, stress interactions over followers.

Bye for now

Still need help defining your social media goals, objectives, or even your audience? Still don’t understand how social media applies to you? Just don’t know where to start? We are here for you. Let us know your questions. Reach us at @steelrosecomm, find us on FacebookLinkedIn, leave a comment below, or even email us.

 

Talk soon …

What can an IRO learn from the BC Lions?

December 1st, 2011 by Jon Bey

This past weekend in Vancouver, the BC Lions completed a remarkable season by winning the Grey Cup at home, almost effortlessly. The fascinating part of the story – the team had one of its worst starts in franchise history. I can’t remember a team in my lifetime, in any sport, starting that poorly, and winning the championship. So what happened this year in the Lion’s Den? And what lessons can an IRO learn from our Lions?

Good Companies – Bad Results

Let’s be realistic – bad things happen to good companies. It happens every day. Many decent companies collapse when things go bad. And, many also manage to survive the first collapse, only then to stagnate soon thereafter. Then there are a select few that manage to right the ship, and strike gold. The Lions did it, what was their formula for success?

Build the Management Team

Every business needs to assemble a strong leadership team. In the corporate world, we hire the Board of Directors, and the Senior Management team. The BC Lions hired Wally Buono as the GM, and his Coaching Staff to run their company.

Corporate Strategy

Once the leadership was in place, the next task was to devise a Corporate Strategy. The Lions needed a roadmap to lead them to the Grey Cup. What would they stand for? How would they accomplish their goals? This is an exciting time in the life of a company, and hopefully an IRO will be a part of this early development in the company’s life.

Gather the Assets

With the leadership and strategy in place, it is now time to gather the assets. For a  Mining Company, this would be the projects. For the Lions – their players. The mining execs would have a game plan to gather the assets, identify exactly what they were looking for, and then sign contracts to secure those assets. Sound familiar? As the years progress, the Mining Company acquires new projects, and releases old assets that may not have worked out as planned. Each season Wally, and his coaches, identified the team strengths and weaknesses, cut loose their weak players, and targeted new assets that would strengthen their team.

Future Looks Bright

As the Lions’ season approached, the company looked great. They had a strong leadership team, an excellent game plan, valuable assets, and excited, invested stakeholders. Their Investor Relations and Communications team were primed for success, as well, especially as they were hosting the Grey Cup in their state-of-the-art $750 Million renovated stadium – a marketing dream season! There would be enough worthy news to keep the stakeholders engaged the entire season.

The Season Begins

Then the games started and disaster struck. After a dismal 0-5 start, local media declared the Lions “A disaster, and by far the worst team in the league”. Stakeholders were calling for management’s termination, and for the assets to be divested. Blow up the team and start over. Sound familiar?

Fast Forward

Fast forward to the end-of-season press conference. The team management were asked what was going through their minds when they were 0-5? Were they scared of losing their jobs? Did they doubt their leadership? Did they question their players’ abilities? Did they change their game plan?

What Did Management Do?

Sometimes companies have the right team assembled, they comprise a great strategy, assemble a fantastic asset, but when they implement the plan things go horribly wrong at the start. That was the case with this year’s team. Was it time to panic? No. Was it time to blow up the team and management? No. It was time to assess the situation, stick to the game plan, and make minor adjustments. When things go wrong, leadership needs to assess what is wrong, and fix it before it is too late. Wally and his team did a great job of communicating with their stakeholders. They were honest, transparent, and available. They didn’t sugar coat the situation, they laid out the facts and repeated their messaging. “We are a good team, we have the right people and we are going to get better.”

Role of the IRO

The IRO has a crucial role to play with the Senior Management team in these situations. The IRO has to be the eyes and ears of the company, listening to what the Stakeholders are whispering , or perhaps screaming. Today’s IRO has to be Social Media savvy, plugged in to the areas where the information is flowing fast and furious. Ask the hard questions. Know where to find the answers.

Communicating and Engaging

In turn, the IRO has to get the message to the Street.  And, simply sending out a press release won’t cut it anymore. And yet, joining a few social networks after a crisis strikes is too late. If the IRO is not already plugged in, and engaged, through social media by this stage in the process, it’s too late. The IRO has a vast array of communication tools at his/her disposal today; and the good IRO’s know how – and when –  to use these tools to communicate effectively in every situation.

Stick to Your Vision

Wally and his coaches persevered through a difficult stretch this season. They were bent, but they didn’t break. They made minor adjustments to their plan, but kept the focus on the big picture, and worked at improving their team one step at a time. Wally may never coach again. His final season may be his most memorable, and that’s saying a lot for arguably the best coach in the history of the CFL. I will remember the stand he took for his players, and coaching staff, after their brutal start. “We have a great team, and we are going to turn this around. We have to be more accountable for our effort and mistakes, and that starts with me.”

What Are Your Thoughts?

What other things could an IRO have been doing? What other lessons are there here? Please send us your comments we would love to hear from you: comment below, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.

Connect With Us

At Steel Rose Communications, we help public companies focus their Corporate Strategy, and devise an IR game plan. Could your team use some coaching assistance? Contact us, we would love to help.