In my Challenges With Live Video blog post, I pointed out that telephonic conference calls are the default mechanism for the delivery of regulatory earnings releases in international markets.
Not so in our African markets. But with COVID-19 wreaking havoc on business communications companies are looking at video conferencing solutions for investor relations.
The critical issue in planning your analyst conference call is not to have content originated and disseminated during stock exchange trading hours.
This takes a bit of planning.
The timing issues associated with stock exchange publication of your regulatory materials, from the time of submission to the exchange, to the time that the content is published online: the point at which the content is deemed to have been “publicly disseminated” should also be considered.
Assuming that regulatory submissions by the stock exchange take a day to publish, I have set out the exact structure of how things would work by the day, and hour, below on the following assumptions should you host a live Q and A with analysts on a call but pre-record an online video of the CEO / FD talking through the earnings presentation in Powerpoint.
This is what you will need to have available:-
- Your earnings release PDF announcement – complete
- Your powerpoint presentation: complete
- Online video recording software for the CEO/FD commentary
- A transcription service
- Your publication diary planned by the hour
- Your Social Marketing Manager / Website Manager
The following is relevant:-
- Assuming you have to submit materials to the stock exchange before 10am in order for it to be published by 9am the next day, you cannot have the call before noon (on the day of stock exchange submission) because participants can use the information received on the call during trading hours.
- The key objective is then to publish the Q and A audio online before the end of the next day (the day after stock exchange submission day) and to ensure that any stock exchange announcement makes it clear that the Q and A file will be available online at that time to inform all investors.
Here is what happens on each day:-
DAY minus +/-3 days
Invitation sent to analysts to dial into the Q and A call on DAY TWO (see below)
The materials are prepared by CEO and management and finalised
Before 10am – The PDF announcement and pre-recorded presentation video and PowerPoint (or link thereto) is sent to the stock exchange – for publication the next day at 9am.
The stock exchange usually takes a day to publish. No one sees this content until the next day.
- 9am – The materials above appear on the stock exchange website (before 9am). The public is sent to the corporate website to view all the materials and submit questions online (if the option is made available).
- 9.01 am – all materials would be published on the corporate website and the stock exchange website announcement would refer to it
- All the available materials (all except the Q and A audio – to occur later in the day) are emailed to analysts already invited to the call (for their convenience), with a reminder about the call later in the day. It’s worth reiterating here that the contents are emailed to the analysts after they have been published on the stock exchange website.
- 2 pm (or any time after 12-30 when stock exchanges are usually closed for trading) the invitees dial in to a telephonic Q & A live and the questions are hosted and answered. There will be a dedicated section by the CEO and FD to answer the questions submitted online through the IR website (through the KnowledgeBase) during the call (if applicable)
- 5pm (say) the audio of the Q and A would be made available online on the website. The stock exchange announcement would have already notified the public of this earlier in the day. The new link to the Q and A audio on the website, would be emailed again to participants of the call (for their convenience) and all other email registrants (the general public) – this is called “PUSH” communications.
THE NET EFFECT OF THIS IS THAT ALL THE CONTENT WOULD BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE MARKET EQUALLY, OUTSIDE OF TRADING HOURS. THIS IS FULLY COMPLIANT
This is what digital infrastructure is needed:
- Your investor relations website and content manager
- Email set up for your website to send invitations out
- Email sending of invites and liaising with attendees
- A Knowledgebase for your website for a support ticketing and formal process for dealing with online questions
- Video recording software online to record the CEO and FD talking to the PowerPoint presentation
- Booking with the teleconference service providers for the Q and A
- Project management of the above (dealing with all of the parties) always ensuring that the stock exchange requirements are complied with in full.
Once the initial call is over and the invitee lists are in the email list, and the CEO and FD are familiar with the process subsequent calls are a breeze.There is no need to engage with any other analyst at all until the next conference call.
Lastly, a few digital marketing hacks:-
- It’s wise and good governance to have a sample disclosure policy and insider trading policy to govern what will be published and how the conference call will be carried out.
- To grow your email list advertise widely that the teleconference call content (the video, the audio and the PDFs) will be sent out to email registrants soonest after the call. Analysts are invited to the call but investors get the materials as soon as the call is complete.
- For those listed companies with many retail shareholders, a large list of recipients of the conference call content can also double up as an advertising opportunity. Add to this a short video from the CEO explaining the investor call in summary with key takeaways would make that content all the more appealing.
- To save money a live telephonic Q and A call may not be chosen and the solicitation of questions online ONLY through a Knowledgebase is a recommended zero cost route. This would save money and enable management to be more selective about the questions that they answer. Any answers published, would be published through the Knowledgebase, and again, this happening should appear in the stock exchange announcement.
- This time of COVID is not the time to withdraw from communicating with the market. Through conference calls or mobile investor relations apps it’s the time for more communications:, communications that are factual, underpin assets and reputation and balance sheet.
- Lastly, if the call is transcribed then once that content appears on the stock exchange website, it may appear on social media channels as quotes or narrative, with links back to the email alert subscription alerts.