I recently read some LinkedIn posts from junior mining executives and IR staff asking for ideas about new ways to engage with investors. The commonly used ways rely on PowerPoints, webinars, and trade show booths. However during this Covid-19 crisis, trade shows are no longer an option. Therefore these face to face discussions with investors will now be missing. This will impact on the ability of a company to connect with and establish trust with those people.
What else can be done?
Perhaps with technology, like Zoom, one can replicate the personal feel of a trade show booth. One can still have back and forth conversations with investors rather than just doing lecture style webinars.
Free discussion is good in most cases. Letting investors feel they are sitting around a table will give them a better understanding of how management thinks and how decisions are being made. It will also help them get to know the personality of the management team.
I’m not an IR person but I admire the job they have to do, especially in today’s business environment. I have recently sat in on several junior mining online webinars. When listening to the Q&A’s afterwards, it is apparent that many attendees enjoyed understanding the technical aspects of a project. However they will only get that understanding by asking questions. Trade show booths gave them that opportunity.
Technology gives some options. Like what?
Set up regularly scheduled Zoom meetings, enabling investors to have interactive back and forth conversations with management. Try to avoid long presentations with questions only at the end. Have a moderator review and ask questions as they come in.
Management teams should introduce more than just the CEO or COO. Include VP’s of geology, engineering, corporate development, from time to time. Don’t hesitate to let the public meet more of your team. Trade show booths are often manned by different team members.
Pick different topics for discussion on each conference call to avoid repeating the same PowerPoint over and over again.
Avoid being too scripted.
For example one call could be a fly-around of the property using Google Earth. Another call could focus on the ore body and resource model. Another call might discuss metallurgy and the thought process behind the flow sheet. Perhaps discuss the development options you have considered.
None of this information is likely confidential if it has been presented in your 43-101 report.
Companies file highly technical 43-101 reports on SEDAR, but then let the investors fend for themselves. One could take some online time for high level walk through of the report. Clearly explain technical issues and how they have been addressed or will be addressed in the future. This is an opportunity to explain things in plain English, and field questions.
One downside to such calls is if there are significant flaws with a project. Open discussions may help expose them. One needs to know your own project well, be aware of all the issues, and have them under control in one way or another.
Better communication with investors can increase confidence in a management team. Although some investors may not enjoy technical discussions, I think there is a subset that will find them very helpful and interesting. There will likely be an audience out there.
Mining projects are complex with many moving parts and many uncertainties. Trust and confidence will come if a company is transparent in what they are doing and explain why they are doing it.
The mining industry is looking for new ways to reach out, so it shouldn’t be afraid to try new things. Some management teams will be great at it, others not so much. Figure out where you fit in.
Unfortunately one of the aspects of trade shows that cannot be replicated is the ability for investors to wander around aimlessly, take a quick glance at a lot of companies, and then decide which ones they want to learn more about.
Warning: zoom bombing