Tips for Planning Your Investor Relations Strategy

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We have spent considerable time determining best practices for planning annual investor relations (IR) activities. Our approach is holistic – we are strategic in how we determine annual goals for investor relations. First, we tie in IR activities to operational events and expected achievements or challenges. From there, we incorporate potential news flow with the calendar of scientific meetings, the corporate calendar and Wall Street events. Ultimately, we strive to be proactive, strategic and selective in establishing investor relations activities, rather than reactive.

In addition, it’s important to create a set of objectives for the upcoming year for your investor relations team. Underscoring these objectives is the goal of creating durable shareholder value. But every company is different. For some, these objectives hinge on increasing analyst coverage and raising visibility; others may be focused on changing perception or messaging around strategy. For well-followed companies, the goal may be to whittle down investor activities and maximize management’s time spent with Wall Street, focusing on efficiency. Regardless of the goal, establishing long-term objectives with short-term deliverable targets is an important step for planning the year’s IR activities.

From here, we focus on tactical execution.

We maintain a database that captures several items we use as the foundation of our strategy, such as the annual corporate calendar, the previous year’s IR activities, analyst coverage and targeting top shareholders, major tradeshows and industry meetings, upcoming milestones or newsworthy items, and key contacts. We also keep meticulous notes on investor meeting history. From here, we build out an IR Calendar of activities for the upcoming year. Our goal is to create a balanced schedule of conferences, non-deal roadshows, and other investor activity in a way that leverages the management team’s time effectively.

Here are five things we recommend for mapping out a successful IR strategy:

1 | Identify your goals and the activities to help achieve them. What are you looking to accomplish through investor activity in the upcoming year?  New analyst coverage? Broadened visibility? Hosting your first analyst day? Each of these intentions will result in a unique approach toward investors. For example, if your priority is increased analyst coverage, it would behoove you to ramp up activities with non-covering sell side analysts; whereas an objective of broadened visibility might require a focus on increased conference presence and specific shareholder targeting activities. Identifying these objectives before you plan investor activities will ensure that you are enlisting in activities that lead to successful outcomes.

2 | Reflect on the previous year. Make a list of conference invitations (noting which were accepted or declined), non-deal roadshows, bus tours, and analyst participation at tradeshows or medical meetings from the prior year. Looking ahead, do you need to shift weight in any of these areas? For reference, the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI) cited that small-to-mid cap companies attended an average of 6 to 8 conferences per year.

In addition, consider the evolution of your strategy. Have corporate objectives changed meaningfully or has your message evolved significantly? When is the last time you hosted an analyst day? (Read about the best practices for analyst day meetings.)

3 | Plan ahead. Pull together a calendar that includes key corporate events such as board meetings, national sales meetings and other off-sites. We can build out your IR calendar with covering analysts’ investment bank conferences and industry events that we know you will be attending. From there, we add in proposed quarterly reporting dates and other planned corporate milestones, such as a new product launch or regulatory approval. We work backwards to identify open windows for investment bank-sponsored non-deal road shows, additional investor meetings and timing for strategic press releases.

4 | Leverage opportunities. Maximize management’s travel when possible. For example, an industry meeting in San Diego could be a great opportunity to tack on a day for West Coast marketing. Conversely, if Wall Street is largely in attendance, it might be a good time to host an informal investor breakfast, meetings at your booth or an analyst dinner. If there is enough new and interesting content, and/or you can easily have customers, thought leaders and KOLs participate, consider hosting a formal analyst or investor event that is webcast.

5 | Diversify activities. There are many types of investor activities to consider. Even within the standard “buckets,” such as investment bank conferences, there are nuances and differences to consider. Adding site visits and bus tours to your investor schedule is a great way to ramp up activity with a minimal time investment. For many emerging growth companies, generalist growth conferences can offer a new pool of investors aside from the usual suspects that show up to healthcare-focused events. Bulge bracket, bank-sponsored conferences may attract a different pool of investors than boutiques, or you could consider hosting 1×1 meetings rather than a formal presentation.

How do you determine the ideal annual strategy? While there isn’t a perfect prescription for investor activities, there are some basic tenets to remember.

  1. Non-deal roadshows, while time consuming, are important, and are additive to conference 1x1s. Investors are less distracted in their own offices, they tend to prepare in advance and you will likely be the only company they meet that day.
  2. Sometimes it makes sense to be more outward facing, while other times it’s a better use of time to focus internally. Strike a balance between being visible and maintaining scarcity value.
  3. Look at the big picture to leverage your time as effectively as possible. If we are targeting 6-8 conferences and 4-6 trips for non-deal roadshow travel to meet with investors, we intersperse them throughout the year and around key industry events and geographies.
  4. Consider wisely when thinking about hosting an analyst day. Increasingly, companies are hosting analyst days every other year, or only when there is a shift in strategy or content to convey to Wall Street.
  5. Each company has unique objectives and challenges, and it’s important to develop a customized IR Strategy that will achieve those goals.

We have created IR calendars and strategies for many companies over many years. They vary widely, but one thing is consistent: we take a thoughtful approach to setting objectives, creating a comprehensive set of expected IR activities, and executing the plan.

Carrie Mendivil, Principal 

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