UK-BASED Software Radio Technology (SRT), which trades on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM market for smaller companies, is being lauded for breaking new ground in its investor relations efforts by hosting a live video webcast to answer questions from retail investors.
The marine electronics developer’s CEO Simon Tucker spent 38-minutes Friday in a casual and unscripted live video webcast from his company’s headquarters in Somerset, England, addressing questions that investors had emailed to the company. SRT develops radio communications hardware and software for marine vessel tracking and identification as well as products for security and emergency services.
About 100 investors logged into Tucker’s first attempt at “live TV,” as he called it, and while some investors were unable to view the live webcast due to localized technical problems, investors have only high praise for the CEO taking the initiative. SRT’s shares closed up 7.69% on 30% higher volume after the web broadcast.
“We’ve received hundreds of emails from investors in the UK and internationally thanking us for doing this,” Tucker told IR Web Report. “My reason for doing this is that there is a huge focus on financial reporting and numbers. But in reality it’s the everyday operational stuff that drives these and to make an investment, as opposed to speculation, people need to really understand that and the operational dynamics we face daily.”
Authenticity adds credibility
Investors were invited via a regulatory release to email questions in advance of the webcast. Based on the questions, the company compiled a presentation that Tucker used as a guide during his live delivery. Investors also could submit questions live through a chat feature included in the webcast interface. The webcast technology was provided by Futurecast, a small London-based web communications firm.
The unedited nature of the video stream, along with Tucker’s easy-going demeanor and product demonstrations added a rare authenticity and credibility to the company’s story. While many European large-cap companies do quarterly video Q&As with their executives, these are carefully scripted and edited. This gives them an overly polished feel that reveals little passion or excitement by executives for their companies.
“Whilst the PR guys say not to do stuff live, I disagreed,” said Tucker, adding that many of the emails he has received after the webcast have said it was refreshing to have a CEO explain in detail what the business does, how its products are developed and distributed, and admit that it’s difficult to provide forward guidance when revenues are uneven.
“One guy emailed and said he had doubled his investment on the basis that he felt safe with us having seen us take this initiative,” said Tucker.
David Brickell, co-founder of Stockopedia and a contributor to IR Web Report, praised the webcast. “Most corporate videos tend to be highly scripted events where the message is carefully stage-managed. They’re a poor second cousin to the real-world management interaction that retail investors crave. Other AIM listed companies, regulators and organizations like the Investor Relations Society would do well to take note of it,” he said.
New video live streaming services cut costs
The cost of live video streaming has dropped dramatically in recent years. New suppliers have emerged catering to individuals and organizations that are comfortable with the technology and want to host their own live webcasts.
Basic plans suitable for smaller companies can be obtained for free, while a typical premium plan suitable for most companies averages around $400 per month, including archiving of past events.
US tech giant Cisco, for example, has a channel on the Ustream.tv service called Cisco Live. Sessions from last week’s World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, were streamed live on the popular Livestream service.
Meanwhile, a number of companies are using Brightcove for video streaming and hosting, including McKesson, which recently used it for a video of CEO John Hammergren commenting on the US Oncology acquisition.
Most of the live streaming services offer detailed statistics and tight integration with social media, including allowing people to chat amongst themselves and with the company during live events after signing in with their social network credentials.