Posts Tagged ‘ways to save money and stretch your IR budget’

 

I recently presented at the 2012 CIRI Essentials Conference in Vancouver (Canadian Investor Relations Institute). This is a fantastic educational event that occurs annually in Canada, and is designed for professionals new to Investor Relations. My topic was, ‘Investor Relations on a Tight Budget‘. This was an interactive presentation requiring all participants to work in groups to develop their: IR Strategies, IR plans and their IR Budgets; while finding ways to save money when creating these essential documents. The participants had only an hour, so we moved through these steps quickly, giving them insight to the process but at a superficial level. We used a typical Vancouver junior exploration company as our case study. This will be the first of two posts focusing on 1) Creating IR strategies, plans, and budgets. The second blog post will provide details on 2) ways to save money and stretch your IR budget.

 

 Our case study – Coal Harbour Gold

After the participants had a chance to meet each other and network, they were divided into small groups, and presented with their case study. Coal Harbour Gold are a fictional resource exploration company head quartered in Vancouver with their exploration focused in the Yukon. Here are the details the class was provided:

  1. Market Cap $50 Million
  2. Small executive team: CEO, CFO, VP exploration
  3. Consultants used for all other corporate functions
  4. Very little IR in past few years – Shareholders want this to improve
  5. CEO knows better IR is needed but IR is a bit of a mystery to him
  6. CEO has hired us and now wants us to come up with full IR plan and budget
  7. Company is running low on funds and will need to raise 3-5$ M in next 12 months
  8. Share price has been stagnant with very little trading volume
  9. Company is unknown in the investment world, very few contacts,
  10. Most shareholders are retail, no analyst coverage

 

StrategyCreate the IR Strategy

Our project was to create Coal Harbour Gold’s IR strategy, plan, and budget; and find ways to cut costs while doing it. Our strategy is our game plan to take us from where we are today to where we want the company to be one year from now. Our IR plan is the road map – breaking down the activities we will perform month to month. The budget adds the dollar figures to our IR plan. Here are a few suggestions our class had to help shape the IR strategy:

  • The Sr. management are unknown – we need to highlight their achievements and market them
  • Get on the road and tell the story, locally, nationally and internationally
  • Increase the frequency, and quality, of their communications with their stakeholders
  • Build out the crucial marketing pieces, starting with a solid website

 

What are the essentials of the IR plan?

Once the groups identified their strategies I asked them to create a list of the essentials for their IR plan. What are the 6-7 things that were musts, not wants. These essentials were crucial to the IR plan if it was going to be successful. Here are the items the groups decided on:

  • Website
  • Roadshows
  • Marketing materials: fact sheets, presentations
  • Annual Report
  • Database management
  • Conferences / tradeshows
  • Networking events
  • Social Media

Once the essentials are decided upon you can start to build out the IR plan. The IR plan once again is the road map for the year. It is a month to month schedule that lays out the yearly IR activities and follows the IR strategy.

 

Budgeting time

Now that the IR plan essentials were identified and the strategy was in place, it was time to start putting some figures to the activities that would be in the plan. Were we really ready for this? Perhaps we needed to clarify a few things from our CFO about our budget. Here are some questions we had for her:

  • What items would fall into the IR budget? Can any of these be moved to another budget like salaries, travel etc.
  • Was there a budget for IR last year or any previous years? Can we have a look at it?
  • What is the total dollar figure we have to work with?

The truth is more time should be spent creating a powerful IR plan. If you can create a kick-ass plan you may be able to convince the CEO to add more funds into your budget. I always find that if I can show the value with each item in the plan and the rational for why it is needed the CEO or CFO have a harder time deleting it, and if they do, I can usually convince them to make room for the item the following year.

True IR talent is making the IR plan fuse with the IR budget provided. Once you have mastered this skill it is time to ask for a raise, but ensure your salary does not fall into your IR budget.

 

Budget Tracking and ReportingBudget tracking and reporting

You should revisit your IR plan and budget at least every quarter. I try to take notes, and write basic reports, on the activities we attempted. Did we find them to add value, was it worth the expense; and are there ways we could do it again, but cut costs? I also watch for other activities that may have been new this year, or perhaps out of our budget. I try to get feedback from peers that attended those events, and I make a note to try and fit the successful activities into next year’s plan. If you can present these types of documents to your CEO or perhaps even the board of directors, you will have a greater chance of growing your budget next time around. Did I mention to keep your CFO close? If you can make your CFO a fan or perhaps a good friend, I guarantee your budget rules will be a bit more relaxed next season.

 

Finding ways to cut costs

Watch for our next blog post where we will share ways to reduce the costs of the essentials in your IR Plan and ways to stretch you IR budget.

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