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IR Best Practices: Roadshows

Investor and analyst roadshows are often expensive in time, money and executive bandwidth. Done well, however, they can also be highly effective in influencing market perception of your company. Here are 12 top tips for ensuring roadshow success with Wall Street analysts, the financial community and media.

  1. Start your planning 8 weeks beforehand and use a roadshow prep checklist to guide your efforts. You cannot pull a roadshow together at the last minute — it takes time to plan, prepare for and conduct. Eight weeks advance prep generally allows enough time to review and fine-tune your messaging, delivery and Q&A.

  2. Put together the smoothest, most concise (maximum 15 minute) presentation possible — in plain, simple English. Test it on non-technical, non-financial people: if they understand it, so will analysts, investors and reporters. If you don't have in-house staff who can put together a first-rate presentation or handle all the logistics of a roadshow, hire outside help.

  3. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! Most executives are so tied up in the business that they don't spend the time to perfect and polish their presentation — and when show time comes, they look and feel unprepared. Confidence is 98 percent of success in making the roadshow work, so spend the time to make sure company executives feel and sound prepared to deliver not just their formal remarks, but in answering the toughest questions likely to be asked.

  4. If your company hasn't been public very long, work closely with legal counsel to brief executives on what they can and can't say. Failure to maintain proper disclosure controls to prevent violation of Regulation Fair Disclosure and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act carry stiff penalties. Educate and train company executives who interact with the investment community to prevent the release of material information in the first place. Ideally, brief executives on current messages and disclosures before each discussion with the financial community and media.

  5. Schedule the first 2-3 presentations with the least important audiences — save the most important for the middle and end of the road show.

  6. Visual aids work! Bring along product samples or demos, if possible.

  7. Do not perform a data dump on the listener instead of engaging in dialog and relationship building.

  8. Study investor presentations from peer companies to see what kinds of information investors want to hear. Managements (especially those new to being public) tend to want to go into more detail than the average investor really wants to know in a one-on-one presentation. Analyzing what peers do will help you to shape a presentation that delivers what investors need to make an informed valuation decision about your company and its future prospects.

  9. Call or write analysts in advance to inquire about their specific information needs. Expect to provide proof points and customer testimonials — not just financial information — to validate your company's market position and competitive advantages.

  10. Choose the right analysts and media to brief. Too often companies waste precious time briefing analysts or reporters who don't cover their industry.

  11. Don't assume that just because an institution holds one of your industry peers that they will want to own your company's shares. Consider whether your investment attributes really mirror the companies you consider your peers.

  12. After the roadshow, send a handwritten thank-you note to every analyst with whom you met. It's a courtesy analysts appreciate, especially when the note comes from top management.