Public companies traditionally hold shareholders’ meetings annually as a way to engage and gather their shareholders together in a forum where they can discuss the company’s financial performance and strategic initiatives, as well as address specific issues at hand. Typically, annual meetings of shareholders have been held in person or conducted virtually using a live format. Over the past few years—and especially in light of the pandemic— public companies have increasingly embraced the use of digital technology in order to communicate more effectively with their shareholders.
A great example is RPM International Inc., a $6.1-billion global leader in specialty coatings, sealants and building materials. Attracting nearly 1,000 attendees, RPM’s annual meeting of shareholders has featured live entertainment, an assortment of snacks, and goodie bags filled with the latest product samples from its operating companies. In early 2021, the company also hosted a digital conference that brought together corporate leadership worldwide to share ideas for driving business growth in the years ahead.
One way that public companies are bringing their annual meetings of shareholders virtual is by pre-recording them in advance. Recently, there has been a rise in CEOs pre-recording their prepared remarks, then conducting a live, interactive Q&A during the meeting. Just like with most things, there are pros and cons to pre-recording versus hosting a live meeting.
If you’re on the fence about pre-recording your company’s next annual shareholders’ meeting, here are several advantages and disadvantages to consider:
THE PROS OF PRE-RECORDING:
Pre-recording your event allows for quicker delivery of information. With the combined power of scripting and editing, your main points can be made clear in a very efficient way. This is especially ideal in instances where your company has a full agenda to cover. By pre-recording, companies can be sure to hit all key points in a timely manner without having to worry about outside factors that can sometimes divert an annual meeting in a different direction.
Pre-recording allows for multiple takes. Some executives and directors may not be the best at presenting live. By pre-recording your annual meeting of shareholders, this allows your leaders to conduct a few practice rounds before getting it just right. It also allows for a change of content if it doesn’t come across exactly how you intend.
You have the ability to create a more curated, compelling and content-focused presentation. With the use of relevant locations, data visualization and digital tools, your messages can be conveyed in a much more interesting way. With pre-recording, you can use supporting elements such as videos, images, audio and even live demonstrations to more effectively tell your story.
A pre-recording allows your company to drive greater consistency and allied messaging that is on brand. This allows content teams to maintain control over not only the content that is presented, but also how it is presented.
Busy corporate leaders can save time by having crews sent to where they are. Scheduling a pre-recording allows you to manage the most efficient way to get information from everyone involved. You no longer have to block out one specific day to conduct your annual meeting, but can instead spread the creation of it amongst many days—ultimately making time most useful and productive for all involved.
Your company can showcase more. With a pre-recorded meeting, the setting can be virtually anywhere. This allows more room for flexibility and creativity. For instance, your company leaders could present on the factory floor, or from the comfort of their home office. A pre-recorded meeting offers the ability to be creative and step outside of the box.
THE CONS OF PRE-RECORDING:
Pre-recording an event can be more time consuming. There is typically a lot more planning, editing and execution that goes into a pre-record, so it’s important to keep this in mind. When pre-recording a meeting, you must be highly strategic and use valuable tools and talent in an efficient way.
A pre-recorded meeting requires that executives and board directors be ready to present further in advance, which means that more time is needed for planning their speeches. This requires all content to be planned accordingly ahead of time to ensure the video is ready on the day it goes live.
While a pre-record can be more effective, in some cases it can also feel less authentic and organic than a presentation that is conducted live and in real time. With a pre-recorded video, you can sometimes lose that face-to-face interaction with shareholders. This is a valuable part of holding an in-person shareholder meeting.
With a pre-recording, an annual meeting of shareholders can lose its effectiveness because it is sometimes viewed as just another video for people to watch. Therefore, it’s critical to ensure that your pre-recording is as engaging and interactive as possible. If you are giving attendees the option to watch the video, you want to make sure you are grabbing and keeping ahold of their attention.
Without a clear content strategy and attention-grabbing design, information tends to get lost in the clutter. Therefore, it’s crucial to work with a partner who is well versed in developing and executing a compelling presentation—particularly for corporate events. This will allow your content to flow seamlessly together while telling the story of your brand.
Quite possibly the biggest con is the cost. There are a lot of extra costs associated with a pre-recorded event—from the venue and lighting, to editing, digital tools and equipment. When thinking about shifting your annual meeting of shareholdings to a pre-recorded event, you must consider all costs and choose what works best for your company. If it is not worth the extra expense, it might be beneficial to keep it as an in-person meeting.
While there seems to be a large shift toward pre-recorded meetings of shareholders, it’s important to take both sides of this approach into consideration before making a final decision. Both an in-person live meeting and pre-recorded virtual event have pros and cons to both sides. When looking at your options, make sure to keep your shareholders at the forefront of your mind. Ultimately, it comes down to what will work best for your company and your shareholders. In the end, you need to ensure that you are delivering quality information in a timely, compelling and beneficial manner for your audience.
IR Campaign Engages Retail Base for NYSE-Listed Public Company
RPM International Inc., a $5 billion, NYSE-listed company, sought to enhance investor relations with its long-valued retail base. In order to determine an approach that would resonate best with retail investors, Roop & Co. surveyed 1,600 of RPM’s shareholders of record. Key findings of this survey shaped messaging, communication channels and a strategic investor communications plan.
Download our Quick Guide to Annual Reports infographic for key insights into the value of developing a compelling annual report for your organization.