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Indepth

Results Day – how to listen over the noise

24 Feb 2021
   —  by Tom Randell

We all want to focus on the key audiences when we have big news, but each year the volume of competing voices just keeps getting bigger.

Imagine the scene in your in-house comms or IR team a decade ago. Before the omni-presence of social media. You are preparing for an annual results day, a deal announcement or disclosing a new strategy for your company. You have to think about your employees, business partners, the media, investors and probably other stakeholders – maybe your industry regulator if you have one. It’s going to be a busy day.

You would never have anticipated that ten years later the internet and specifically social media would mean it would be twice as busy. Results days now need to be worked on for weeks before and sometimes almost as long afterwards, and each year the task is getting even more overwhelming.

And there are even more people and organisations who expect your attention. They all want an answer for their questions, normally immediately. If you ignore them or are late replying they can misinterpret your silence or start spreading ill-informed information that you haven’t had a chance to correct.

The pressure is unrelenting. There are more sources of news and data, and waters muddied by misinformation and unthinking bots. We are also seeing a wider range of interested investors than ever before. GameStop shareholders trying to change the world on Reddit are just the tip of the iceberg of online investors active on forums with threads dedicated to conversation about your and every other company.

Management comments made on investor calls have wide and immediate reach read by private investors online watching share price performance from their bedrooms, kitchens and (home) offices. Coverage is forwarded extensively across social media, with influential commentators discussing as they share. If there are public comments made by employees which differ even slightly from the head office line they will soon take centre stage.

Small investors with their own agendas can shape the questions institutional investors ask and be quoted in the online and offline media coverage. The conversation is fast-moving, multi-layered and unpredictable.

With companies expected to manage this huge spike in interest around news, prioritisation becomes critical. Knowing who to reply to and what issues to focus on is a challenge. There is little time left after analyst presentations, institutional investor calls and employee town halls in which to do the responding. Mistakes or misinterpretation at any point will be amplified and spread quickly.

The landscape wasn’t always like this. There used to be time to wait for the first take from the major business media and if the share price and first media coverage was good even relax a little. If your analysts were also supportive then there wasn’t much else to worry about apart from ensuring the management team stayed on message.

But now the volumes of online discussion that occurs before, during and after major corporate announcements frequently see total online conversation increasing by 400%. The only way to manage this vast increase in comment and enquiries is to enlist additional resources – to keep you informed and allow you to analyse, understand and deal with potential problems before they get out of hand.

A quick response to problem issues reduces the total number of inbound queries and negative comment. Above all it means stakeholders will be more likely to focus on the news you have announced, not the rumours.

Social360 takes some of the load from your in-house teams at times of stress around big announcements. This will allow you to spend time connecting with the investors, influencers and media that matter the most.

To find out more about our comprehensive, tailored results monitoring service, fill in the below or email us on info@s360group.com

Tom Randell

Financial Results Conversation Monitoring at Social360

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