SLIDECASTS are an easy, low-cost and reliable way for IR departments to offer investors ongoing access to webcast replays while potentially expanding the audience for their information at the same time.
With so many companies having difficulty keeping track of when third-party webcasts expire, or having to pay expensive ongoing hosting fees to traditional webcast providers, slidecasting should be standard practice on IR websites today.
A slidecast is simply an online presentation with a synchronized audio soundtrack. All you need to create one is an MP3 file and your presentation slides in PDF or a presentation format like PowerPoint. Several free or low-cost presentation services enable you to create slidecasts, including SlideRocket, Authorstream, Slide-Casts.com and SlideShare.
This article focuses on SlideShare because it’s easy to use, fast, free, and has a large web audience. For a modest fee, SlideShare enables you to create an advertising-free channel for your company, as BASF and Pfizer have done.
4 key benefits of slidecasts
Since most companies haven’t changed how they archive webcasts for at least the past decade, it’s probably worth explaining why slidecasting is so much better than prevailing practice. Here are the 4 key reasons:
As mentioned in a previous post, 67% of mega-cap companies we reviewed in a recent survey linked to expired webcasts. This happens because companies fail to regularly verify links to presentation webcasts on sites controlled by brokerage firms, which typically do not archive webcasts for long periods.
When investors follow links from company websites to expired broker presentation webcasts, they may question the company’s ability to keep its website up to date, or merely be frustrated that the company has wasted their time by directing them to content that no longer exists.
Slidecasts, however, put IR departments in control of their own content. They provide an easy and inexpensive way for companies to provide ongoing access to audio content for as long as the company wants, and typically at no or little cost.
2. Low or no cost
Creating slidecasts and then providing access to them for extended periods is highly cost effective. In fact, you can create and host slidecasts entirely for free, but at most it will cost you a few hundred dollars per year for an almost unlimited number of slidecasts if you choose to purchase a premium account on SlideShare or one of the other services.
3. Better usability than prevailing practice
When most companies post investor relations presentations today, they typically post PDF files of their slide decks. These have varying degrees of utility depending on how self-explanatory the slides are. However, in most cases valuable context or insight is lost if the slides aren’t accompanied by some exposition or narration, either in the form of notes, a transcript or an audio replay.
Slidecasts improve upon the prevailing practice by combining the audio and slides into a single, synchronized package. If an investor or analyst wants to hear what was said about a particular slide, they can just go to the slide and hear the associated audio.
SlideShare slidecasts are provided using Flash, which is widely supported by web browsers and often easier to use than Windows Media Player or Real Player, the formats used by most traditional webcasts. SlideShare presentations also can be provided in standard HTML that can be accessed on mobile devices and tablets, including on Apple’s iPhone or iPad, although the mobile versions do not support audio yet.
While most webcasts today require users to register before being granted access – a practice that discourages up to 30% of users accessing your content — most slidecasts do not require investors to register.
4. Outstanding reach
SlideShare slidecasts have an added benefit that almost all traditional webcast don’t – they are designed for sharing on the web. This makes slidecasts a potentially valuable marketing tool for IR departments.
For starters, all SlideShare slidecasts are posted on SlideShare’s website, which attracts about 3 million visitors per month. Anyone who encounters a slidecast — on an IR website, SlideShare’s website or another website – can easily share the slidecast by embedding it on their own website, Facebook wall or on Twitter.
SlideShare also provides an app for Linkedin, which individual IROs can use to publicize their presentations to their Linkedin connections.
These sharing features enable IR departments to spread their messages to huge audiences of potential investors, and often with the benefit of a personal referral.
Keeping track of all activity around a presentation is easy because SlideShare reports traffic statistics for each presentation, while premium account holders get improved analytics.
Creating a slidecast using SlideShare
To create a slidecast, you will need an MP3 file of the presentation audio and the slides in PDF or PowerPoint.
For this post, I decided to create a slidecast using existing content from Verizon’s IR website. I chose Verizon because the company already provides separate MP3 files and slides in PDF for all of its presentations.
To be clear, as IR website presentation archives go, Verizon’s are among the best, but even they can be improved with the addition of slidecasts.
The screenshot below shows the page on Verizon’s website were I obtained the presentation and the MP3 file to create a slidecast on SlideShare.
I downloaded both the slides and the MP3 file to my desktop for uploading to SlideShare. You don’t have to upload the MP3 file to SlideShare if the file is already available elsewhere online. I chose to do so for this post to get a sense of how long it would take to create a slidecast from scratch.
Start by uploading the presentation to SlideShare for conversion to Flash format, making sure to keep the presentation private because you still need to create a slidecast with it. Uploading and conversion take about 2 minutes in total. See below:
Next, give the presentation a title, description, key words and choose the “investor relations” category. It’s important to complete this information in full to make it easier for search engines to discover and index the presentation.
After saving your changes, click on the “Create Slidecast” tab at the top of the screen and you’ll be prompted to upload the MP3 file or link an existing one from the web. Uploading Verizon’s 39MB MP3 file took a few minutes on a 1 mbs upload connection.
Once that’s done, SlideShare automatically loads the slidecast synchronization tool. This tool enables you to synchronize the audio to the slides. I did this by listening to the audio and then clicking on the screen when it seemed that the speaker was moving to each slide. It took a little while to figure out how this works, but once I got the hang of it, things went quickly.
After synchronizing the audio and slides, click “publish” and you’re done. The entire process took me less than 45 minutes. It would have been much quicker if I had a rough timeline guide to work from and didn’t have to listen to the entire presentation soundtrack to know when to change slides. Embedded below is the screencast I created:
If you’re making slidecasts of presentations that include a Q&A, it’s a good idea to create a slide for each question and answer before you upload the slides. That way you can synchronize each audio question and answer to a slide and give people an index to the Q&A.
Since your slidecast could be embedded anywhere on the web, be sure to include a link to your IR homepage on at least the first and last slide. That way people can easily access more information about your company if they’re interested.
Slidecasts offer many benefits over standard IR website webcast archiving practices. They are low-cost, easy to produce, more usable than standard webcasts and separate PDFs and MP3s, and they give you more potential to market your company’s content on the web.
For more ideas and best practices, see IR Web Report’s 48-page report on online investor presentations.