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Our Blog: The Podium

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

2020 Annual Shareholder Meetings: New SEC Guidance and Going Virtual

By David Calusdian, President

The option to hold a solely virtual annual meeting has been with us for several years now, but we certainly will see a dramatic increase in the number of companies using these purely online events this coming proxy season.  Broadridge’s virtualshareholdermeeting.com platform lists 140 virtual or “hybrid” (offering a virtual option to supplement the in-person meeting) events on its platform alone from now through the end of May. And we’ll be sure to see more of these events in the coming weeks as a result of the SEC’s new annual meeting guidance due to COVID-19 travel and gathering restrictions. 

Below we have shared the SEC’s guidance around three major areas relating to annual meetings, including 1) changing the date, time and location of meetings; 2) holding virtual or hybrid annual meetings; and 3) providing flexibility regarding shareholder proposals.  We have also included links to helpful resources, and proxy and news release examples relating to virtual or hybrid annual meetings. Of course, since state law governs the conduct of annual meetings, please refer to those corporate codes as well as any limitations provided by your stock exchange. 

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

COVID-19: A Guide for Communicating through an Unprecedented Crisis

By Maureen Wolff, Chief Executive Officer

The fast-moving COVID-19 outbreak is presenting many unique challenges for companies around the globe as they determine how to best manage the business impact, protect their employees at large, and communicate an immense amount of information and change effectively with their employees, shareholders, customers, the media and more.

The following are 8 tips for business practices and communications with core stakeholders as you formulate policies in the wake of COVID-19. 

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Investor Relations Agency, Investor Meetings, Crisis Communications, IRO, Shareholder Communications, Investor Relations, Investor Relations Firm, Corporate Communications, Employee Communications

How Innovative Design and Communication is Changing the Proxy Landscape

In the once cut-and-dry world of proxy statements, colorful communication matters more than ever before.

With shareholder activism still on the rise, and institutional investors like BlackRock and State Street, and collectives like the Investor Stewardship Group, sharpening their focus on corporate governance issues, the tick-the-box approach to proxy statements is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Many companies are moving beyond the traditional black & white “legalese,” paragraph-heavy proxy statement and taking a more innovative, communications-focused approach to improve transparency, defend against activism, and better engage with shareholders.  

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Board Communications, Proxy Season, Shareholder Communications, proxy, proxy design

Activists and Boards Agree on Need to Communicate

When it comes to corporate governance, board members and shareholder activists do not often agree.  But there is at least one opportunity for common ground: better communication.

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Board Communications, Shareholder Activism, Board of Directors, Crisis Communications, Shareholder Communications, Investor Relations

Investor Relations for Industrials

Communicating That 1+1 = 3

By David Calusdian, Executive Vice President & Partner

Investor relations for industrialsA well-known portfolio manager once said to me that he loved diversified industrial companies “for their break-up value.” If you’re in the industrial space, this is the polar opposite of how you want investors to think about your company. For an industrial, it all comes down to ensuring that investors see your company as being more than a sum of its parts – not less. Here are four tips to ensure that investors believe your company is worth more than its breakup value.

Synergize! An industrial company’s collection of businesses can either be viewed as just that - a disparate group of autonomous operations individually contributing to the corporate P&L. Or they can be seen as interconnected, mutually supporting components of a single profit-generating machine. The first way to demonstrate that your company’s whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts is to communicate how the portfolio management philosophy of the business fosters cross-selling throughout the organization, driving revenue growth. Also focus on how management realizes cost synergies across the enterprise, such as through lower fixed costs due to shared overhead or greater combined purchasing power.

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Investor Presentation, IR Program Planning, Investor Meetings, Crisis Communications, Media Relations, IPO, Shareholder Communications, Industrial Investor Relations, Investor Relations, Earnings

The Art of Communicating an Acquisition: M&A in 2016

Global merger and acquisition activity set an all-time high last year, breaking the previous record set in 2007.  According to an EY survey in October 2015, 59% of executives planned to actively pursue acquisitions in the coming 12 months. Given that this number is significantly higher than the 40% reported in the survey a year ago, we very well could see another record-breaking year for M&A in 2016. 

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Disclosure, Strategic Messaging, Mergers & Acquisitions, Credibility, CFO, Shareholder Communications, Investor Relations, CEO, Trends, 2016

5 Tips for a Successful Investor Day

Hosting an investor day can be a powerful way to raise management visibility and credibility, highlight the depth of your management team, and clarify your company’s value proposition and growth strategy.  But planning a successful investor day is no small task. Here are five tips to help you along the way.

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IR Vendors, Investor Presentation, Targeting, Investor Day, Investor Meetings, Reputation Management, Analyst Day, IRO, CFO, Shareholder Communications, Investor Relations Firm

Three Step Approach to Social Media for Investor Relations

By Dennis Walsh, Vice President

I recently moderated a webinar hosted by NIRI on social media strategies for investor relations. On the panel with me were David Jackson, CEO, Seeking Alpha; RJ Jones, Investor Relations Officer, Zillow; and Andrew Shapiro, Founder, President and Portfolio Manager, Lawndale Capital Management.

The discussion made clear that professional investors are using social media - activists included. In addition, all public companies should have a social media strategy, even if the objective is just to monitor the online conversation.

If you are in charge of managing your company’s investor relations program, you might be wondering how to get started developing your social media strategy. Try following this three step approach:

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IR Program Planning, Reg FD, Shareholder Activism, Disclosure Policy, Shareholder Communications, Social Media, Investor Relations, Monitoring, Activist Investors

10 Tips for Dealing with Shareholder Activism

By Maureen Wolff, President and Partner, Sharon Merrill Associates

For many companies, a looming activist shareholder is no longer the exception – it’s the rule. Activist shareholders had launched 495 campaigns targeting U.S. companies through November 2016, according to FactSet SharkRepellent. And as of the end of November, the number of proxy fights for board seats was at its highest level since 2009, at 101 contests.

The threat of activist investors encircling your company can be intimidating - unless you understand how to engage, respond and communicate. Here are 10 strategies to help you prepare.

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Board Communications, Shareholder Activism, Proxy Season, Proxy Access, Board Structure, NIRI, Shareholder Communications, Investor Relations, Activist Investors

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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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