How have companies’ investor engagement strategies changed during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The pandemic has really shone a light on so many things. Some, we always knew but didn’t realise quite how key they were to our most basic way of working. Investor engagement is a case in point. We all recognise that investment decisions are not all about balance sheets and financial projections. The numbers need to stack up, of course they do, but that is not always enough. Clearly, trust plays a big part, but much of that trust is earned, not just from past successes and an individual’s track record, but a belief in the person you’re dealing with. We used to joke about sizing someone up by the strength of their grip in a handshake or how they relaxed over lunch or a couple of drinks. That’s all gone now. Hopefully not for much longer, but physical contact and the sheer physicality of actually meeting someone face to face; that will never be the same again. The WebCam World is here to stay which means we need to do a lot more groundwork, before that first online ‘meeting’. Potential investors need to have a good feeling about the players involved and the investment opportunity being presented before they get that video meeting. For PR and IR specialists, like me, shifting strategies to meet changing market conditions is second nature. For investment companies, themselves, this can be a real challenge, which can lead to a costly loss of focus.
How can you help companies when it comes to investor engagement?
As mentioned, the investor environment has changed – not in terms of returns, but in terms of engagement. I think the role of Pristine and myself is now, more than ever, to give investment firms greater control of this new environment. We do this very proactively, as now is not the time to sit on the sidelines and nudge or to be too subliminal. The world is in the grip of a paradigm shift and waiting for that world to come around to our way of thinking is not an option; better to be in there batting and shaping the new future.
The investor environment has changed – not in terms of returns, but in terms of engagement.
Let’s face it, we always say ‘challenges’, not ‘problems’, don’t we? We always put that ‘positive spin’ to demonstrate our positive outlook. Well, spin won’t cut it this time. It’s got to be all about action. No more ‘putting out the feelers’; ask the question- and make sure you get the right answer. No more email reach-outs; get on the phone- and don’t get off that call till you’ve got what you want. It’s the time for a little street fighting- and I love it!
What would you say are the advantages of hiring outside of your vendor when it comes to IR, PR and marketing?
I think in-house PR and IR has its place. It is very focused, obviously, which can offer some good results. However, its focus can, also, be its undoing. An investment opportunity is no more something to be seen in isolation than a market can be ring-fenced. To put over anything, you must be able to compare it with other things on the market. Context is very important. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked in-house, myself, and see the value in its focus, but I think a more ‘bird’s eye view’ won’t detract from that focus; but will fine-tune its targeting.