Updating Your Investor Relations Program

Andreas Panayi is a senior managing director and global leader of the Creative Engagement Group in the Strategic Communications Practice of FTI Consulting. He shares his views on Investor Relations with the NYSE Community.

With uncertainty plaguing the global capital markets, companies are grappling with how to build confidence and calm the concerns of the investment community. Effective investor relations (IR) is key right now, and the corporate website is one of the most powerful and public-facing tools available to keep shareholders, analysts, the media and potential investors up to date about vital corporate activities and information. But many companies are still stuck in the Dark Ages when it comes to leveraging the “collaborative web” for IR and missing out on the positive impact their corporate website could have on the situation. Here are five ways to tell if your IR program is in need of hitting the refresh button:

1. Your annual report doesn't tell a story

Investors are proactively asking companies to provide a holistic, dynamic and timely picture of the company, which means supplementing financials with other types of more colorful corporate content. Analysis by FutureValue on behalf of FD has shown that there is still far too much emphasis on compliance rather than narrative in corporate annual reports. The 2010 research demonstrates a direct correlation between the quality of narrative reporting — or telling an authentic company story — and medium- to long-term share price performance.

Getting it right: Serco*

2. Your annual report is still sitting in unopened boxes in the supply closet.

In separate research, 94% of investors have told us they access corporate websites more than once a week, so not having an interactive and engaging online version of the annual report is a massive missed opportunity. To offer just one of the endless possibilities, the digital annual report could be buttressed by video to update the CEO’s narrative as necessary to talk about performance versus projected goals.

Getting it right: Comcast*

3. Your website looks and sounds like a separate entity

Along the same lines as #1 above, an effective IR website will repackage or link to other types of corporate content. For example, snippets of employee events are well received by investors, helping them to better understand how effectively the CEO is engaging the employees. From a design perspective, the IR site should be integrated with the look and feel of the corporate site, and the ability to find information and navigate back and forth between the two should be seamless.

Getting it right: Comcast* (again)

4. Your target audience can't pick your CEO out of a line-up

So much of investor relations is the ability to change opinions and influence perceptions by telling a compelling story and truly connecting with key audiences. There is no better format in today’s digital world than video to do just that. When done right, video, as distinct from text, can help the investment community develop a more direct, personal and even emotional understanding of global management. And with 70% of investors telling us they want to see video on websites, there’s no reason not to incorporate it into your IR program.

Getting it right: Radian*

5. When displayed on a mobile device, your investor relations site looks like a Tetris game gone awry.

Next-generation website upgrades need to focus more on meeting the needs of today’s investor. This means taking advantage of advanced Web-based delivery tools to offer corporate, IR and other strategic content across multiple digital destinations — such as microsites, smartphones and tablets — to the investor audience. It also means making sure your content is as “real time” as they are, so the use of feeds and IR integration tools is recommended to ensure all information is up to date (which also keeps you compliant).

Getting it right: Shell*

Read the full whitepaper to learn more about how the collaborative web offers unique advantages in immediacy, breadth and cost-effectiveness for IR programs.

*Denotes a client of FTI Consulting; FTI Consulting did not participate in the creation of Shell’s iPad app. The views expressed in this article are held by the author and are not necessarily representative of FTI Consulting, Inc. or NYSE Euronext.