MORE than two-thirds of company investor relations websites in IR Web Report’s benchmarking survey link to expired presentation webcasts, causing wasted time for analysts and investors and casting doubt on the accuracy and timeliness of the companies’ IR websites.
The fact that 67% of mega-cap companies in our survey are failing to regularly review their websites for expired information suggests that even large companies with access to substantial resources are not following good website management practices. The persistence of this problem is perplexing because it can be easily addressed at negligible cost and little effort.
Wasting investors’ time by making them register to access a webcast that no longer exists can negatively impact investors’ perceptions of a company’s expertise and undermine their confidence in the timeliness and accuracy of its website content.
In turn, this can lead to increased phone calls and emails to IR departments from analysts and investors seeking basic information that they otherwise would be comfortable getting from the company’s website. Badly managed sites can also lead analysts and investors to rely on alternative sources of information that a company does not control.
Why things go wrong
Expired webcasts happen because companies link to webcasts on third-party websites to meet their Regulation FD obligations when their executives attend investor conferences. The conference hosts typically hire the webcasting services and decide how long to provide replays of the presentations. Replay periods may vary from a few days to several years.
While the webcasts are open to the public, web visitors most often have to complete a registration form before being granted access to the live or archived events. However, at some point the brokerage firm’s webcast provider removes access to the webcast replays, but the registration form for the event typically stays in place.
When the webcast replays are removed by the conference host’s webcasting service, IR website managers should remove any links on their sites to the old webcast pages. If they don’t, investors who follow the links to the old webcasts will have to sign in only to discover that the webcasts are no longer available.
This can frustrate investors, especially if the information on the conference provider’s website is the only record of the company’s presentation, which is quite often the case.
A simple, low-cost way to archive presentation audio
The best way to avoid links to expired webcasts and unnecessary registration forms is to post the presentation replays and associated materials on your own IR website rather than link to them on a third-party website that you don’t control.
You can easily do this at very low cost by posting audio recordings on your site as MP3 files. There are several ways to obtain an MP3 file of your executives’ presentations. The conference host’s webcast provider may provide one, or you can create your own from a live or archived webcast using free software that is widely available on the web. You could also record presentations on a digital recorder (or even an iPhone) if there’s no webcast.
MP3 is the most widely supported audio format on the web and can be provided to investors in several different ways. You can add MP3 files to an RSS feed to create a podcast, enable users to play the file directly on your site using a free audio player, or you can simply post the file and let investors download it to their computers for playback.
And once posted on your website, the MP3 file will not expire and there are no ongoing costs beyond standard website hosting and bandwidth fees, which are unlikely to amount to more than a few dollars per month, if that.
To provide even more value to your IR website visitors, you should post the presentation slides and transcripts of all your investor presentations. The Walt Disney Company is one company that does this well. Verizon is another example of a company that provides access to MP3 recordings, presentation slides and transcripts.
These are basic practices that any company can easily manage without breaking the bank or their backs. For more tips on making the most of your investor presentations on the web, see IR Web Report’s guidelines for online investor presentations.