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Our Blog: The Podium

ESG in 2020: 6 Steps to Start Your ESG Journey with Confidence

By Maureen Wolff, Chief Executive Officer

With a record $20 billion+ flowing into ESG oriented funds in 2019 in the US alone there is no denying that a compelling Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) platform has become a critical component of investor relations programs and overall communications for corporations of all sizes. Investors, proxy advisory firms and debt rating agencies are demanding it. And, other stakeholders including employees, customers, strategic M&A suitors and suppliers are increasingly considering ESG practices in deciding where to work and with whom to conduct business. 

ESG can fundamentally make an organization stronger, more resilient and more attractive to key stakeholders, while helping to mitigate long-term risks.  At the same time, the lack of an ESG strategy and sustainability narrative can leave a company exposed and at risk on several fronts.

ESG data is being used on every public company today, whether the companies have released ESG information or not. As BlackRock CEO Larry Fink stated in his 2019 Letter to CEOs, “In the absence of robust disclosures, investors, including BlackRock, will increasingly conclude that companies are not adequately managing risk.” Additionally, BlackRock along with State Street and other institutions have committed to vote against directors at companies that do not demonstrate a commitment to ESG.

The events of recent months -- including the global COVID-19 pandemic and the racial justice movement -- have further amplified the need for greater corporate focus on a range of ESG initiatives, including risk oversight, supply chain security, IT infrastructure, employee safety, talent management and diversity and inclusion.  

While doing nothing on the ESG front is clearly no longer a viable option, implementing an ESG program can seem overwhelming -- particularly if publishing a full-scale sustainability report that meets GRI or other standards would not be feasible for your company right now.

The good news is that ESG is a journey, not a sprint. By taking a few strategic first steps to put a stake in the ground, you can establish a strong ESG foundation to build upon over time and earn tremendous credit from investors, employees, customers and the society at large.  

We’ve guided many companies through this “walk before you run” approach.  Here is where we suggest you start:

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Strategic Messaging, Corporate Governance, Investor Meetings, Presentation Training, Crisis Communications, IRO, Financial Communication, Shareholder Communications, Investor Relations, Investor Relations Firm, IR Trends, Investor Relations Trends, Corporate Communications, Investor Relations Websites, IR Recommendations, ESG

Rewriting the Investor Day Playbook: Tips for Executing a Successful Virtual Event

By David Calusdian of Sharon Merrill, and David Fine of Fine Communications

Two investor day experts combine experience to deliver best practices on leveraging digital platforms to deliver a compelling virtual investor day.

The investor day is one of the most effective platforms for presenting your company’s strategy, outlining your long-term targets and showcasing the depth and strength of your management team. With the world moving to virtual formats for the foreseeable future, IROs are faced with a new task – mastering virtual investor day planning. This pivot presents new challenges as well as exciting new opportunities to engage and communicate critical messages with the investment community. 

The following are top tips for IROs to master to execute a successful virtual investor day:

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Investor Presentation, Investor Day, Investor Relations Agency, Investor Meetings, Presentation Training, Crisis Communications, IRO, Shareholder Communications, Investor Relations, Investor Relations Firm, IR Trends, Corporate Communications, Investor Event Planning, Event Planning

The Art of the Virtual Non-deal Roadshow

By Polly Pearson, Senior Vice President

5 Ways to Enhance Your Virtual Presence with Institutional Investors

In the coming quarter (and possibly quarters), the inability of your management team to travel during the pandemic should not derail your pending investor meetings and non-deal roadshow plans.  Virtual non-deal roadshows offer an easy, high-ROI means of positioning your company with receptive institutional investors. In fact, this is a real-time need. Active investors are in the market looking for stories and opportunities while market volatility is still offering favorable valuations. Help them help you. Consider putting your company out there to offer virtual (on-line), face-to-face investor meetings to best connect active investors with your refreshed story. With virtual meetings, both sides of the interaction are guaranteed to be more engaged in what is said. Use this moment of attention to build deeper and “real” relationships with existing and prospective investors to introduce your refreshed story. Virtually.

Following are five tips to help you conduct virtual one-on-one investor meetings and NDRs.

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Investor Presentation, Investor Relations Agency, Investor Meetings, Presentation Training, Crisis Communications, IRO, Shareholder Communications, Investor Relations, Investor Relations Firm, Corporate Communications

10 Tips for Executing a Remote Earnings Call

By Ryan Flaim, Senior Vice President

With most companies practicing social distancing, many management teams will be conducting this quarter’s earnings call remotely. For most, this will be a change from the typical in-office setting and it is important to think through logistics ahead of time to minimize disruption and allow management to remain focused on the important task of providing investors with a business update in the wake of COVID-19.

Following are 10 tips for executing an effective remote earnings call during this unprecedented time:  

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Investor Presentation, Investor Relations Agency, Investor Meetings, Presentation Training, Crisis Communications, IRO, Shareholder Communications, Investor Relations, Investor Relations Firm, Corporate Communications

Preparing to Deliver your Story on a Virtual Non-Deal Roadshow

By David Calusdian, President

Five Tips to Effectively Present to Investors on a Video Platform

Management teams of publicly held companies throughout the world are readying for a new phase of the corporate “new normal” in the COVID-19 world – the virtual non-deal roadshow. After the calendar Q1 reporting season ends, management and investors will be meeting via video platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangouts or Teams to discuss their companies’ prospects going forward.

In addition to figuring out the technological logistics that will allow management to tell their companies’ stories to investors in an online format, they will need to prepare to deliver corporate messages using a different medium than what they’ve been accustomed. There is an inherent difference between communicating face to face and through a video platform. In this blog, we provide five tips to help deliver a compelling story to investors during a virtual non-deal roadshow. 

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Investor Presentation, Investor Relations Agency, Investor Meetings, Presentation Training, Crisis Communications, IRO, Shareholder Communications, Investor Relations, Investor Relations Firm, Corporate Communications

Investor Relations in the COVID-19 World

By Maureen Wolff, Chief Executive Officer

5 Actions to Take to Earn Investor Trust and Confidence Through an Unprecedented Time 

The world as we all know it has changed -- drastically and quickly. The COVID-19 pandemic has moved fast, stocks have fallen sharply, and investor focus has quickly shifted from offense to defense. 

During times of instability like these, companies can earn a tremendous amount of equity and trust with their shareholders through open, transparent and proactive communications. While the decision on how to communicate through uncertain times is specific to each company’s situation, increased disclosure and transparency are usually the answer.

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Investor Presentation, Investor Relations Agency, Investor Meetings, Presentation Training, Crisis Communications, IRO, Shareholder Communications, Investor Relations, Investor Relations Firm, Corporate Communications

Five Keys to Executing a Successful Investor Day

Investor days are one of the largest and most influential investor events a company can organize. They also are arguably the most overwhelming, triggering challenges in logistics and human resources for public companies large and small.

But don’t let organizational challenges prevent you from hosting a successful investor day that will have both your company and your investors happy.

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Investor Presentation, Investor Day, Presentation Training, Public Speaking, Analyst Day, Industrial Investor Relations, Investor Event Planning, Event Planning

Four Steps to Deliver a Captivating Presentation

The ability to deliver a captivating presentation, whether at meetings, investor conferences or in a more personal one-on-one setting is challenging for most. Even those who are naturally gifted still need to practice to be their best. 

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Strategic Messaging, Presentation Training, Credibility, Public Speaking, Public Relations, Speaking Engagements, Investor Relations, CEO

Presentation Training: Tips and Tricks

We’ve called upon our resident body language expert, Sharon Merrill EVP and Partner David Calusdian, to teach us to become better speakers – whether at meetings, investor conferences or in more personal settings. This four-part conversation provides a taste of the good, and bad, habits of executive presenters, with a few tips for improvement along the way. Today’s post is the finale in the series.

The Podium: Well, David. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for, when you share your deepest presentation secrets. What are common mistakes you’ve seen presenters make over the years?

DC: Let’s start with nervous habits. Nervous speakers will fiddle or fidget with anything. The reason is that many people do not know what to do with their hands. Some put their hands in their pockets, making them look stiff. Others fiddle with the keys in their pocket, a pen, a wedding ring or other jewelry.

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Investor Presentation, Presentation Training, Public Speaking, Public Relations, Investor Conference, Investor Relations

Presentation Training: Do You Hear What I Hear?

We’ve called upon our resident body language expert, Sharon Merrill EVP and Partner David Calusdian, to teach us to become better speakers – whether at meetings, investor conferences or in more personal settings. This four-part conversation provides a taste of the good, and bad, habits of executive presenters, with a few tips for improvement along the way. Today’s post is Part III in the series.

The Podium: As always, thanks again for joining us, David. We’ve had a highly informative series thus far. Today, we’d like to talk about voice. Let’s start from the beginning.

DC: First, I always tell people to speak loudly, clearly and use vocal variety. That may sound obvious, but most speakers aren’t aware that they are being monotone or are not annunciating until they see and hear themselves on video. On a related note, a common voice problem people have is that they drop off their voices at the ends of sentences. They speak loudly for a period, and then suddenly fall off.

The extreme version of the trailing voice is “vocal fry” – a raspy sound you make when you run out of breath, as if you were fighting to get the air to finish each sentence. Either way, your message loses its impact. And without that, there’s really no point.

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Investor Presentation, Presentation Training, Public Speaking, Investor Relations

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Connect with your Investors

Establish a sincere connection with investors to communicate key messages during your Investor Day. Download our free e-book on effective presentation habits, and learn to deliver ideas with confidence and clarity.

Delivering Effective Presentations

When it's time for a change

Whether planned or sudden, it is crucial to communicate the succession of high-profile positions effectively. Download our three-part e-book and learn the best way to craft a plan for CEO, CFO and Board of Directors transitions.

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Be Proactive, Not Reactive

With our new Proxy GamePlan, we create a year-round, data-driven strategic roadmap for effective shareholder engagement. Implement a best-in-class program rooted in a deep understanding of your company’s proxy practices, shareholder voting trends and peer landscape.

Learn More About Proxy GamePlan

Find Effective IR Counsel

Whether you’re seeking external IR counsel for the first time or evaluating your current provider, you need a firm that understands your strategy, adapts to your culture and tells your story. Download our free guide on how to assess the effectiveness of an investor relations firm.

How to Assess  an IR Firm

Activism Defense

No company is immune to shareholder activism. Sharon Merrill helps boards of directors and executive management teams identify the activist red flags lurking in your shareholder base, assess your governance risks and develop an action plan to prevent, detect and neutralize any threats. Download our free white paper, “Leveraging Institutional Shareholder Relationships to Reduce Activism Risk,” and learn how the best defense against activism is a strong offense.

Download Activist Defense White Paper

Captivate your Audience

Speaking persuasively is critical in today’s competitive business environment. Effective speakers use voice techniques and body language that project authority and credibility. Download our free e-book, “A Guide to Delivering Captivating Presentations,” for insight into good -and bad- presentation habits, and learn how to improve your skills.

Become a Persuasive Speaker 

Perceptions Matter

How do you ensure that investors clearly understand your strategy, growth drivers and market position? The most effective way is through a perception study. By periodically taking the investment community’s pulse you can avoid the knowledge gaps and misperceptions that hurt valuation. Download our free whitepaper, Why Perceptions Matter, to learn more.

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