Now that you know how important investor relations are, here's a checklist of things you can use to make sure your life as a public company is a successful one.
- Executive time. You don't sell your deal once--you sell it continuously. And except for large companies, it's the person running the show who does the meeting, greeting and, yes, the selling. Ideally, you should meet with at least one analyst, broker or institutional investor per month. At the very least, you should plan one day per quarter to meet with at least five investors. At CorpHQ, Crane shoulders the investor relations burden. "It's like another full-time job," he says, recalling the many times he's taken 4 a.m. calls from early-bird East Coast investors.
- Publicity. You must leverage your ability to get in front of investors who otherwise would not know you exist. That means using the press, print and electronic media. Publicity is important because the dozen incoming calls from prospective investors who read a story and want to learn more are worth more than 1,000 outgoing cold calls. If you have a PR firm, it needs to focus on getting your company exposure in the investment and business media--and you need to give it the kind of events and milestones it can work with.
For example, Aviles and Crane were able to consummate three partnerships in quick succession--allowing them to distribute news releases to their shareholder base that showed exciting forward progress, and get some favorable press as well. The three deals included a partnership with a franchised provider of business services that gave CorpHQ access to 7,500 locations nationwide, an alliance with a courier services firm, and the acquisition of a financial services firm to provide corporate finance and investment banking services to CorpHQ members and customers.
- Money. Get ready to spend some money. Unfortunately, promoting a company can't be done on contacts alone. You'll need to pay your way into conferences. You might need to pay for a consultant. You'll also spend quite a bit creating investor collateral materials such as fact sheets, annual reports, news releases and article reprints. "All totaled," says Aviles, "our investor information kits cost about $8 each, and we send out a lot of them. But it doesn't stop there, because many times investors want them sent out overnight delivery."