What do you do when your business is turned on its head due to a global pandemic and other unforeseen circumstances beyond your control?
This was the question at the center of last week’s webinar, The State of Investor Relations in the Virual World, a conversation with IR leaders from Petco, Quanta Services Inc., Lytham Partners and our very own Head of Global Distribution, Liam Power.
During this webinar we discussed findings from Cision’s recently released State of Investor Relations Report,, and how our panelists pushed through the barrage of challenges investor relations teams encountered in 2020 and continue to face today.
Here are their key takeaways that can help you adapt to an ever-changing normal.
Adaptability Is Key
According to the State of IR Report, sixty percent of respondents stated that COVID-19 had an impact on their IR programs in 2020. The disruption underscored the need to adapt and plan for an uncertain future, as many are doing now.
“Historically, for the last 20 years we [Lytham Partners] have been a firm that has focused on non-deal road shows,” says Robert Blum, Managing Partner of Lytham Partners. “One of the things we quickly did was put together a virtual conference in May of 2020. It was a great success and allowed our clients to communicate in a much wider capacity to many investors. All told, in 2020 we ended up doingfive events with more than 50 companies, 250 institutional investors, more than 1000 meetings. Offering this as an option to our clients as an addition to normal practice plus the conference really changed the way we conducted our business.”
Digital Is Trending
It’s no longer enough to have a presence online, but to make that presence dynamic, interactive and engaging in order. “One thing we have seen shift as a company is more of the emphasis being placed away from the traditional annual report to a more streamlined version of that glossy document,” says Kip Rupp, Vice President of Investor Relations at Quanta Services, Inc. “Budgets are also being channeled towards having an effective website to communicate the report.”
The lesson? Now is the time to start embracing technology and innovation. Utilizing video content to support messaging and increase engagement is becoming a trend among investor relations teams.
Purpose-Driven Businesses Are In
“Investors are really focused on ESG [Environmental, Social and Governance],” says Kristine Moser, VP of Investor Relations at Petco. “ESG is definitely part of who we are as a business. Our business model is an omnichannel player in the marketplace, so it naturally lends to more sustainably focused practices. Through this practice last year, we ended up saving over 30 million pounds of cardboard and another 30 thousand pounds of plastic, just by the fact that we were not doing the typical drop shift that you would get from an online pure player.”
Consumers, investors, and partners naturally gravitate to companies that practice sustainable business practices. According to one participant from the State of IR report: "This year really accelerated what investor relations professionals were having to communicate around ESG, primarily [around] human capital measure, diversity, inclusion, health, and safety of employees, and benefits offered during COVID."
PDFs Are Dead
The creation of multimedia content to accompany traditional IR activities is rising. IROs are looking for partners who have robust production capabilities to create infographics, videos, and website-based solutions that engagingly present key ESG and sustainability content.