Knowing Your Audience is Half the Battle
22 August 2013
Today’s blog post is courtesy of Lena Desmond, Community Specialist at DisclosureNetTM – an online solution for searching, monitoring and sharing disclosure filings. You can watch a product overview here: http://disclosurenet.com/how-it-works/.
Lena is yet another great person that I’ve met on Twitter (@DisclosureNet). She is main contributor to DisclosureNet™’s blog, The Insight Forum, where she often shares information that is relevant to Investor Relations. As a result, she graciously offered to write a piece for our blog.
Excerpt: How Investor Relations professionals can use public filings to get “in” on their investors.
Chumming with investors is like being part of the “in-crowd”. It’s a steep uphill climb, but once you’re there, the goal is to stay in good standing with the scrutinizing, investing crowd. This can be a mighty task.
It’s no secret that words must be chosen carefully when crafting a message that will reach investors’ hands. What makes this incredibly difficult? Investors aren’t an easy audience. Nor are they a single audience. Their financial knowledge varies, as do their interests. But where there is a will – or in this case, an endless amount of public information – there’s a way. Here are three ways that public disclosure documents can provide a valuable “in” for IR professionals looking to foster and forge new relationships.
1. Speak with, not to, your audience
There are five types of people who will read public filings as soon as they’re released, including the document most pertinent to the IR role: news releases. In fact, some may argue that news releases are the most widely monitored document.
Most widely monitored? Who are these seemingly elusive stakeholders? They are: potential shareholders, regulators, the media, peers & competitors and of course, current investors. With so many interests to satisfy, it can be challenging to speak to these stakeholders as a single audience, what with their diverse needs and agendas. IR officers are then tasked with crafting a message that has universal appeal. And, just to add more pressure to the task at hand, before a release is published there are also internal interests to satisfy: your company’s c-suite, compliance department and your board. Knowing your audience is essential.
Use this public document to learn more about your audience’s needs: financial statements.
Within the Statement of Investment Portfolio section of financial statements, you can find the collection of companies in which the institutional investor has invested. (This task can be simplified by using software with advanced Boolean searching and filters.) Once you identify the investors, you can also determine information like their bond coupon, maturity date, par value, cost and fair value.
By knowing who’s investing in your peers and the terms of their investment, you can exercise a number of strategies. For example: once you identify institutional investors you’re interested in, it’s easy to create a case for why those investors should be interested in you. Add to your value proposition by building on a competitor’s messaging. This will entice prospective investors that may be unsure of their investment in your competitor.
2. Wordsmith existing disclosures
No need to reinvent the wheel. Borrowing choice verbiage or narrative structure from your peers is a great tactic to employ when you’re faced with a delicate topic. But before you’re tasked with justifying a newsworthy article to your investors, you must first get approval from the stakeholders within your company, all while maintaining the hooks and lures you put out to attract new investors.
Even when disclosing unsavoury information or during crisis communications, borrowing verbiage from companies who’ve been there, done that and lived to see another day, might just help you in a pinch.
Use this public disclosure document to find valuable benchmarks: news releases.
Whether you’re announcing financing or supplementing the announcement of a joint venture with a release, positioning newsworthy items with help from a peer’s news release can shape your own storytelling strategy and the public sentiment that arises afterwards. Also, by maintaining a close eye on your industry, you can stay on top of industry news and ensure you communicate the most important information to your shareholders.
3. Do Good… Better
Not only does a top notch Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program attract goodwill in a business climate that is increasingly concerned with sustainability, but it will also appeal to investors. With IR disasters like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and insensitivity from once sought after retailor Abercrombie & Fitch, investors are increasingly interested in the values of the company they’re investing in. Closely aligned with IR, a solid and genuine CSR initiative can mean the difference for many investors.
Use these public disclosure documents to ramp up your CSR initiatives: annual reports and news releases.
Annual reports will list the details and impacts of a CSR campaign and are useful for proposing a campaign, determining the possible success of a campaign, and keeping tabs on competitors’ initiatives. News releases, especially when automatically delivered, will announce new initiatives immediately, keeping you in the know about new precedents and other competition for your investors’ attention. Not to mention, should your company get into hot water, news releases are great benchmarks for what to do and what not to do in the wake of a crisis.
DisclosureNet™ is an online solution that helps business professionals unlock intelligence in global corporate disclosure filings. Founded in 2002, DisclosureNet™ uses innovative technology to make it easy to find, store, and share global public disclosure information, while providing a secure platform for knowledge collaboration. To learn more about DisclosureNet™, please visit www.DisclosureNet.com.
Lena Desmond is the Community Specialist for DisclosureNet™. She spends her days on social media, overseeing the disclosure management blog, The Insight Forum and chatting up anyone and everyone engaging in the public disclosure sphere. Lena blogs about GRC, disclosure research, public filings and corporate intelligence, although she sometimes has difficulty writing sentences longer than 140 characters. You can follow Lena and DisclosureNet™ on Twitter here: @DisclosureNet.