The National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI), the largest professional investor relations association in the world, recently hosted a webinar on “Maintaining an Effective IR Program through the COVID-19 Pandemic". While its focus was from a perspective of corporate IR practitioners at some of the largest companies in the world like Ford Motor Company, there are many useful direct parallels for muni issuers navigating through this environment. Whether or not you have a bond sale on the horizon, these are some important takeaways.
Identify your pressure points. Investors may need some hand holding as they review your credit and get their arms around the impacts of this crisis on your bonds. In the near term, as we struggle through an unprecedented drop in economic activity, cash flow and liquidity will be their focus. Be proactive and responsive to these concerns with frequent updates on both the revenue- and expense-side impacts to your operations.
Be the calming force. We are in uncharted waters and it is critically important to stay in touch with investors. This is a time to show your organization’s good governance and leadership. While cash flow and liquidity may be the immediate concern for investors, you also need to show investors the bridge to the future through both the actions you are taking and the actions you can take to weather the storm. Showing a path forward and highlighting your longer term strategy should be a part of the messaging from your organization as you progress through this crisis.
Bulk up your IR website. Now more than ever, electronic delivery of information is essential to ensure timely communication. As decisions are being made and new information becomes known within your organization be sure to clearly communicate it and make sure information is easy to find on your website. Virtual roadshows, conference calls and leveraging social media are useful tools for communicating relevant information to both existing and prospective investors.
A lot will continue to change throughout this crisis. One thing that can remain constant is your commitment to keeping investors engaged so your municipality can overcome these obstacles and maintain stable financial operations moving forward. Municipal market issuers, will no doubt, rise to the challenges facing them.