Last year, the earnings calls of two companies shook up the investor community. The fanfare focused not on the content of their calls but how the calls were conducted.
Yahoo live-streamed their earnings in July 2013. While it’s no surprise that a company with such a big focus on video released their earnings in this way, CEO Marissa Mayer’s deadpan expression was criticized, as was the format with Mayer and CFO Ken Goldman in a TV studio. They looked more like news anchors than executives.
Around the same time, Netflix announced that they would host a broadcast video instead of a traditional conference call. The video Q&A format that Netflix chose was livelier than traditionally boring earnings calls but viewers expected more from a company as steeped in high-quality video production and technology as Netflix.
Both examples leave room for improvement. Both were interesting glimpses of how investor relations communications will pan-out, as video becomes a better way to host earnings calls. Still, it’s now over one year later. Why haven’t more companies adopted video instead of the traditional earnings conference calls?
Typical earnings calls are currently held in a conference room with a conference line, the executives sitting around a table, fielding questions and passing notes to each other. That does not easily transition itself to video. Since companies have been doing it one way for years, changing the format is not as easy as it looks. Companies need to stage the calls differently to play well on video, but few will do this before they see more companies doing it first.
I think the initial skepticism from many companies is a mistake. Live video increases the overall engagement between your company’s CEO and CFO and its existing and potential investors. People want to see and hear the CEO and CFO, their passion and how they handle themselves.
Video adds color to traditional earnings calls. Companies can provide visuals illustrating important information to their audience. For example, your spokesperson could walk viewers through new infographics and charts to show them exactly where your company has seen growth.
Additionally, video earnings calls can become a bigger event and vehicle for other important company news, such as product announcements, executive appointments and commentary on the industry.
Video earnings calls can also take on any structure you choose, not just what most people would call boring, traditional earnings call. For example, you could lead with exciting industry research or company news announced by your CEO and CFO, segue into an interactive Q&A session that highlights your company’s earnings and end with an outlook on what your company will roll out in the coming quarters. This new style of video earnings calls could also wrap with live discussions with investors or media as well.
Post-earnings, companies can distil their live video earnings calls into content on social channels, blog posts and video clips. Important stats, news or graphics from the video could be redistributed in company newsletters and distributed to current clients, potential investors, industry thought leaders and media.
If your business is doing well, your executives have the chance to look amazing in front of the world. If you had a down quarter, your executives will build additional respect and credibility in front of a live audience explaining how they will handle the next few quarters.
In the end, with more business and communications moving to online or live video, coupled with the continued uptick in Over the Top (OTT) distribution platforms and streaming media consumption, a video earnings call might not be the next novel idea, but instead the next IR expectation.