As COVID-19 became widespread in early 2020, global gatherings came to a complete standstill, emptying sports stadiums, airports, and restaurants. Investor events were no exception, with many investment bank conferences and industry gatherings being outright cancelled or postponed during this time. Many executive teams concerned over the disruption of the pandemic on the market and their ability to access investors and the Street turned to Zoom for relief. Now, two years later, in-person events are making a return, leaving many asking, “What is the future of investor communications?”
What was intended to be a temporary fix evolved into a new practice we expect to stick around long after the pandemic resolves. Below are some of the many benefits to virtual events:
- Flexibility and inclusivity. Company executives and shareholders can meet essentially without geographic restrictions. Corporate duties and personal obligations that may have previously impeded one from attending a multi-day conference now has the option to tune into the event for an hour or two at a time. Management teams are more accessible to investors; meanwhile, companies can maximize their exposure to investors near and far.
- Cost-effectiveness. Online meetings eliminate costs associated with venues, travel, and accommodations.
- Analytics. With virtual conferences comes sophisticated analytical software that can more easily track attendees and engagement in real time.
Considering these benefits, why would we ever go back to in-person meetings? A 2017 study found that face-to-face requests are 34 times more effective than email requests. In-person gatherings offer more than what Zoom can capture on screen. Below are some of the reasons why in-person interactions may outweigh virtual ones:
- Long-lasting relationships. The power of small talk cannot be understated when building trust in a genuine and meaningful business relationship. Casual conversations in between meetings and during lunch breaks allow people to showcase their personality, which is often invisible behind the camera.
- Effective communication. In-person attendance requires the full attention of its participations, resulting in limited distractions. Non-verbal communication such as body language and social cues facilitate a smoother conversation that may be otherwise be interrupted by a faulty internet connection at home.
- Increased engagement. In-person attendance requires the full attention of its participations, resulting in limited distractions. It is tempting to multi-task during virtual meetings when email and ping notifications are cluttering the screen.
Despite the many benefits of in-person interactions, the pandemic introduced new challenges related to safety and health concerns. We recommend developing an in-depth plan inclusive of local and conference guidelines to ensure the safety of you and conference attendees. Take note of local travel restrictions, mask and vaccine protocols, and COVID-19 testing requirements.
The pandemic has changed how we navigate meetings and conferences, resulting in the virtual versus in-person dilemma and a new need for balance. We believe the future of investor relations is a hybrid model that integrates both virtual and in-person elements to reap the benefits of both. The hybrid solution offers participants the flexibility to build and sustain relationships according to their unique needs.
If you want to develop a strategy for developing a hybrid solution that makes sense for your team, we can help. Contact us today.
Laine Morgan, Analyst