On this episode of Pivot Points, we are joined by Idalia Rodriguez, a Partner and Senior Advisor at Arbor Advisory Group. Idalia has decades of experience as a corporate investor and public relations officer and offers strategic counsel to private and public companies alike. In addition, Idalia is also an expert on creating and executing successful Investor Days.
After 2020 forced many companies to host their investor days virtually, the bar for production value is now higher than ever. Idalia sits down with Elise and Tripp to discuss why companies need to level up their investor days and why hosting an in-person-only event is no longer an option.
Elise Orlowski (00:08):
I’m Elise Orlowski, a senior video director here at Cramer.
Trip Underwood (00:10):
And I’m Trip Underwood, a creative director at Cramer.
Elise Orlowski (00:13):
And at Cramer, we work with so many incredibly fascinating people from all over multiple industries.
Trip Underwood (00:18):
We have so many great conversations, many that are just too good to keep to ourselves. So now we’re sharing them with the world.
Elise Orlowski (00:23):
Right here from Cramer Studios.
Trip Underwood (00:25):
This is Pivot Points.
Elise Orlowski (00:30):
Trip Underwood (00:36):
As we’ve been doing a couple of these episodes, we’ve really talked big picture about the shape of things to come for events and whatnot. But today we’re going to dive down a little bit into more specific area of a particular style event, and that is Investor Days.
Elise Orlowski (00:49):
Investors. Good. I’ve never done anything for an Investor Day so I’m very curious.
Trip Underwood (00:54):
Personally, worked on an Investor Day before, nor do I have the capital to invest in anything. So I’m not the target audience in term of subject matter expert, but I am a good subject because I need to be educated on this. So today we’re excited to have Idalia Rodriguez, a partner and senior advisor with the Arbor Advisory Group, decades of experience as a corporate investor and public relations officer and she offers strategic counsel to private and public companies, both. And she’s also just an expert on creating and executing a really successful Investor Days, which is what we’re going to be focused on. And as we mentioned, you and I could use a little brushing up on. So without delaying it any further, thank you so much for joining us today.
Idalia Rodriguez (01:32):
Great, thank you for having me.
Elise Orlowski (01:33):
Hello, welcome. Thank you for being on Pivot Points. I think we’re going to have a great discussion today.
Trip Underwood (01:39):
Lots to cover lots to learn.
Idalia Rodriguez (01:40):
I’m looking forward to it.
Elisa Orlowski (01:41):
Yes. So I think starting off Investor Days, everything has become virtual over this past year. I’m curious, what do Investor Days look like from a virtual perspective?
Idalia Rodriguez (01:58):
Well, they’re all over the place right now. I think we need to, as an industry, have some best practices. Some companies have done an amazing job. I created Investor Days, many continued to produce Investor Days very similar to a live event and I don’t mean that in a positive way.
Elisa Orlowski (02:24):
Not interpreting it for virtual.
Idalia Rodriguez (02:27):
Exactly, the interpretation for virtual is not happening. I think the old fashion way of standing up at a hotel ballroom, on a stage with your slides next to you with a clicker, in a suit are gone. I think that experience was flat at that time and it’s even more flat when you’re trying to transfer that to the virtual format.
For us, we feel that companies need to think of an Investor Day as an investor experience. It should be like, if you have any product and you’re going to launch that product, there’s a storyline, there’s the beginning, the middle, the end. And that’s how Investor Days need to be thought as going forward.
Even if you go hybrid, which I think… What we’re seeing in our firm is that companies are thinking in places like the east coast with a big percentage of the population has been vaccinated, that they will do it in person and they will do it virtual. But it’s not just having a livestream of your CEO speaking with a clicker and a big slide, it needs to be an experience, it needs to be videos, it needs to be animated graphics, it needs to show the entire management team, it needs to be a tech talk with your investors. Communicate with me, tell me your story and make it compelling and that’s how they need to transition it.
Trip Underwood (04:17):
More production value, more traditional marketing approach for this very specific idea, because you are asking people to give very lot of… Just like you would a typical consumer or customer. You’re asking them to invest in your brand this time specifically, very literally. So you want to create an experience that’s going to get them excited about it, so that makes total sense.
And prior to the pandemic, what were some things, you kind of mentioned things feeling a little flat, do you mind exploring that a little bit? Walk me through what the traditional Investor Day looks like and why you think it’s starting to miss the mark or at least where its welcome in a 2021 audience?
Idalia Rodriguez (04:57):
Well, I think the majority of public companies feel that it’s all about messaging, so you stand up and you speak to your investors, so I think that’s always been fairly flat. You have the production companies sitting in the back of the room just filming the event and in some cases, it wasn’t even filmed, it was just an audio feed. So you’re not even making a connection to your investor who’s watching this, who’s listening to you. It’s just your voice over with maybe the benefit of slides which for the most part, always included. And I think for me, I always felt for our Investor Days, there was an element that was missing, which is having a very highly produced event.
The challenge is that companies just didn’t want to invest. I mean, a lot of companies [crosstalk 00:06:00] .
Elise Orlowski (06:00):
Which is ironic.
Idalia Rodriguez (06:02):
Right, exactly. They do Investor Days in New York City and as you well know, Investor Days in New York City are really, really expensive. I think a quarter of a million dollars, it’s a very easy number to drop regardless of your venue, and it goes from there. There’s sensitivity about spending money and if you’re going to add the production value of a production company with video, with B-roll, [inaudible 00:06:32] customers remotely showing your capabilities, then that adds obviously to the price point.
What we’re telling our clients is, you do this event every 18 months, every two years. Think of it as an investment in your storyline and give it the resources that it needs, both financial and human resources that you need to make sure that this event is executed flawlessly because you can take this event and use it in so many ways.
Trip Underwood (07:11):
It’s not a moment or time.
Idalia Rodriguez (07:11):
From HR, to publicists, to hiring. If you do it properly.
Elisa Orlowski (07:17):
It’s a long lasting investment.
Idalia Rodriguez (07:17):
Exactly it becomes an investment, not only in your story, but you can use that in so many ways across your company.
Trip Underwood (07:25):
What are your clients’ reaction when you say that, do they buy into it? Do their jaws drop at the idea of trying to rethink something they’ve done, for if it ain’t broke don’t fix it kind of mentality? Are you seeing pushback or are people open to that idea of upping the production value and making it more entertainment and experience focused?
Idalia Rodriguez (07:43):
Yeah, I think that they are thinking that it needs to be different. The interesting feedback that I hear really often is, we’re not a fancy company.
Elisa Orlowski (08:03):
We’re not Apple, we’re not introducing the new iPhone.
Idalia Rodriguez (08:06):
If you watched the Michaels Investor Day, which was done at their prototype store, that was beautifully executed, in any way, shape or form, that wasn’t fancy. That was just a very sophisticated event, that was very beautifully produced. If you look at the Disney event that was done at the studio, obviously this is a production company so not everybody has those resources, but for me, that wasn’t fancy either, that was just a company putting their best foot forward, just well-executed.
Tractor Supply, did their third quarter earnings last year, in the middle of the pandemic where they turned.. It was sort of an investor event and it was done in a studio and it wasn’t a fancy event but it was sophisticated, it was well produced, it told a story. It was simple in a really, really good way. It didn’t have a lot of bells and whistles but it was just beautifully executed. And those three events are all very different, but all done extremely well and in very different ways.
Trip Underwood (09:24):
Yeah, I think that’s a great point. The idea of just because you can’t afford pyrotechnics and circus performers or [inaudible 00:09:31], doesn’t mean that you can just dial it in.
Elisa Orlowski (09:33):
That’s not the only type of production.
Trip Underwood (09:36):
There’s a very fine line between sophisticatedly subtle and poorly put together, and I think you never want to be on the other side of poorly put together, regardless. And with some of the advances we’ve seen in technology, it’s much easier to do high level execution than it was in previous years as technology has gotten better.
Speaking about something you said earlier, I’m very curious, you talked a little bit about one of the big barriers to putting on a bigger Investor Day would be the cost of venues, particularly in some of our major US cities. With hybrid events becoming more the norm and technology connecting people as you and I are talking from two different cities now as we speak, getting better, I feel that presents a really great opportunity for people to say, just because you can’t afford a ballroom in New York City, doesn’t bar you from doing this altogether.
Elise Orlowski (10:37):
There’s more creative options to create a more dynamic experiences.
Trip Underwood (10:41):
100%. Just curious, if you could see that permeating the market a little bit more to expand the type of investment days that you see and where they’re done from?
Idalia Rodriguez (10:52):
In 2022 companies are going… I think they should, not that they have to have a hybrid event that has the same quality as a well produced event in person and virtually. I think for me, if somebody that comes from California and spends 48 hours in New York to go to one event. Now, most investors who do that kind of trip will have other meetings, they’re just not going to come in for one event. But just traveling from London, from any part of the world to come to New York to see an event when you know you can really tell your story so well virtually. I feel it’s unnecessary or a minimum, you should have both because what we’re finding is that for some of our events that we’ve done we had a 100 people in a ballroom to 200, when you do it virtually you get 600 people. We worked on Hanes and they had a 1000 people.
Trip Underwood (12:06):
And that’s the goal with these. Cast a wide net, get people interested, right?
Idalia Rodriguez (12:11):
Trip Underwood (12:11):
Why would you cut yourself off at the knees?
Idalia Rodriguez (12:12):
Exactly and employees were invited, so employees listened in and they were a part of that number. But if you watch the Starbucks Day, that was also done virtually, and I think they had over 800 people. Don’t quote me on that. That was done about a year ago but you really reach a wider audience and I think that’s worth that investment.
Elise Orlowski (12:40):
When you having those conversations with your clients, I think what really helps them to see beyond, it’s going to look good. What helps them really understand that they need to invest and need to increase the production value, ultimately?
Trip Underwood (12:53):
Like you got to spend money to make money, the old adage there?
Elise Orlowski (12:56):
Yeah, I’m curious what those conversations are like.
Idalia Rodriguez (13:00):
The conversation is if you want to set yourself apart from everybody else, you need to do better. I think a portfolio manager is looking at 125 companies, he’s not investing or she on all 125, but he’s investing in a portion of those, and he’s keeping an eye on the rest. If your Investor Day has a very clear message and you’ve spent the resources to really deliver your story in a really compelling way, where you’re showing the breadth of your company through imagery, videos, every resource that you can use to tell your story, that’s going to have more impact than someone who’s just standing with a clicker with slides during a live stream, which is what I considered to be that flat look.
And if you take the time to introduce the rest of your management team to that portfolio manager, the president of sales, the head of marketing, this all can be accomplished virtually. Where you can bring people virtually from… We’ve had clients bring people in from London, from South America, from Mexico, and to give your audience access to that management team without having to fly anyone over, there’s the value and that’s what we tell them. Also, the advice we give is you need to look like you care and when you care about your investors, you give them a very good product and that needs an investment.
Trip Underwood (14:56):
It also gives them an opportunity to see what they’re investing in. You’re not investing in a logo, you’re not investing in a slide that shows a growth trajectory, you’re investing in a leadership team and in some cases, the company down below that you can trust to create the product service, whatever it is you’re thinking about investing in and take it to that next level. And I think having that breadth of understanding of who is running this company that I’m thinking about investing in, just makes it a more personal connection. And in my case, if I had that kind of capital, it would make me feel a lot more trusting and a lot more secure in my decision than watching a single presenter in a slide as you mentioned.
I’m a little bit curious, so you’re a communications expert and a financial expert, which I’m incredibly jealous of because I can do communications okay but money is not… I get an allowance from my wife. I’m not allowed to pay the bills because then they’d all get forgotten. So I’m always very jealous of people that can understand numbers and words at the same time.
Unpack for me a little bit about this audience. We’ve already talked about they want to hear more stories like that but when reaching out to an investor audience, what are some things I need to think about as someone that might be one day creating content for this kind of events?
Elise Orlowski (14:56):
That’s a great question.
Idalia Rodriguez (16:16):
So the audience for this Investor Day is you are located in Massachusetts so think of Fidelity who’s on your doorstep there. So they manage trillions of dollars and that you have someone like Fidelity, BlackRock, very large names to a small hedge fund that’s managing $200 million. This is the audience that’s looking at many investments to invest in, so you’re one of many, many companies, thousands of public companies that are competing for that money. So the clearer your storyline is and the better your message, the better the chance that investors are going to take an interest in your story.
Elise Orlowski (17:05):
So it’s really that company proving to those investors that they’re worth it. And that…
Trip Underwood (17:11):
Catching their eye like everything else.
Idalia Rodriguez (17:14):
Exactly, make sure that your message is very clear, investors don’t like complex stories because they regard it as an incredible amount of energy to understand a complex story, so make sure that you’re transparent, make sure your story is very clear and make sure that the investor understands that you have [inaudible 00:17:33] of management, that it’s not just one or two CEO and the CFO speaking.
Elise Orlowski (17:41):
Like diverse representation.
Idalia Rodriguez (17:43):
Right. God forbid something happens to the CEO, you know that there’s a whole management team who can run this company. And I think there’s a comfort that investors want from companies, that not only are companies well run they have the breath of management, and investors want to see that management team.
Trip Underwood (18:08):
What would you say is the… I love that firstly and it’s very similar to other events we do, everything you said does not seem very specific to this industry. Be open and clear in your messaging because complexity, no one has time for, and just try to humanize what it is you’re talking about.
Elise Orlowski (18:25):
Trip Underwood (18:26):
Which I think is great. Talking about specifics, what about timing for these things? How long would you say an ideal one should last, both in-person and virtual? We’ve seen the attention span in virtual and in a lot of industries is much shorter we’re finding than it was for live, so we’ve shifted that way. Curious, if that’s the same for this industry where there is so much on the line, so to speak.
Idalia Rodriguez (18:54):
Yeah. I’ve been watching all of these events for the past year and a half and I think two and a half hours seems to be a good spot.
Trip Underwood (19:03):
Elise Orlowski (19:05):
Is that for a virtual or a live?
Idalia Rodriguez (19:07):
Elise Laskey (19:08):
Idalia Rodriguez (19:09):
Yes. In order to do an event that is a four or five hour event, that means that you have a lot to say and you have a lot of news and you have some really critical information that you need all that time to communicate, the two and a half hours, three hours, it’s a good spot. That seems to be the average these days when I look at this events with a break, so people can have time to stop and check emails, texts coming in.
Trip Underwood (19:43):
Idalia Rodriguez (19:44):
Recharge, you need to give people a break from the screen.
Elise Orlowski (19:48):
I’m curious looking forward because I think hybrid is such like a Magnum Opus, we don’t always know what’s going on, but I’m curious, you’ve seen the benefits of a live in-person Investor Day, you’ve seen how it’s been executed virtually. I’m curious as what do you think the future of hybrid Investor Days looks like or what some Investor Days could benefit from being virtual rather than being live?
Idalia Rodriguez (20:17):
Yeah I think the benefit of being live is seeing that management team in person and being able to shake her hand or his hand. I think the human touch is something that was very missed and under a pandemic [inaudible 00:20:33] is just… So I think holding an event live, still holds. I think that’s having people in the room when it’s safe and being able to look at the management in the eye, it’s critical. But I think because the pandemic forces to go virtual so drastically, after a month you build a habit, we were out for over a year so at the end there is an expectation that you’re going to provide that experience virtually and we recommend it.
I think the fact that you can have a wider audience, it’s just worth it right there. The fact that you can just showcase people from all over the world who work for you is important. The fact that you can do video. The virtual just woke up this very sleepy event that’s been done the same way for years. So I think there has to be a really great mix of having this hybrid and in person, were both audiences are going to benefit equally.
Elise Orlowski (21:53):
It became a problem but now it seems it’s opening up a huge box of opportunities to be able to create a more dynamic experience.
Trip Underwood (22:00):
Yeah, just that idea of engaging people. And I think as we all become more used to on-demand content as well, I think that’s another great thing because we are talking about some of the… As you said, the target audience for this are very busy people and the chance that they might not be able to make it to this one particular day is very real, but the idea that they can then at least have some sort of touch point with that audience going forward, I imagine would just be a huge boon getting in front of the right people.
Elise Orlowski (22:30):
Yeah, definitely. I’m curious Idalia, as we’re wrapping up here, what would be your big thing to clients, who you trying to convince to invest in your Investor Day? What would be your big thing to say to them beyond just invest to invest? But what would you really say, looking at hybrid, being able to even reach a wider range of people? I’m curious what you would say to people now investing in hybrid because it’s just so new? I’m sure some clients are going to be like, I don’t know if I want to invest in that, what would you say to them?
Idalia Rodriguez (23:05):
It’s the wider reach, it’s being able to reach more minds, more investors. I think there’s a trillion dollars or more being invested in midtown Manhattan, now that was before the pandemic, that probably changed.
Trip Underwood (23:28):
Idalia Rodriguez (23:28):
But there’s also… There’s money all over the world, not just in Manhattan, because we tend to be very focused in Manhattan because there’s so much money to invest in there. But I think for me it’s the reach, it’s having that wider reach and it’s being able to use other elements to tell your story. And for me, that’s worth investing the extra financial resources to make sure that you are delivering that really clear message and that you are reaching a wider audience.
I mean, if you think about publicly trading companies, they have four quarterly calls a year, which are when they’re speaking to their financials for each quarter. And then they do this Investor Days every two years. Those are really the only times because when you go to a conference, you limited to a certain audience. When you take this event and you do it in a ballroom, but you also take it out of the ballroom, now you just opened up yourself to so many opportunities. And I think that’s worth that extra investment and that’s where we are advising our clients to go into that direction.
Elise Orlowski (24:44):
This is such an eye-opening conversation, I’m really excited to start working on some Investor Days.
Trip Underwood (24:48):
Yeah, for someone like Cramer, for production company that as you said, not traditionally, this is a field that where people really haven’t put a lot of necessarily creative thought into, for people [crosstalk 00:25:01].
Elise Orlowski (25:00):
That don’t see the necessity of it.
Trip Underwood (25:02):
Right. For us that are more on the creative side, this is just another opportunity, another industry that we can go and play in and to do it with.
Elise Orlowski (25:11):
With a strategic focus as well.
Trip Underwood (25:14):
Elise Orlowski (25:15):
Well, awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining us Idalia. This is again, like we said, a very eye-opening conversation and we’re so happy to have you today.
Trip Underwood (25:22):
Yeah, appreciate all your insight. Thank you so much.
Idalia Rodriguez (25:24):
Thank you. It was my pleasure.
Trip Underwood (25:25):
Trillion dollars in a four block radius.
Elise Orlowski (25:27):
Yes I know. I wish we knew about this sooner, we could have more creativity.
Trip Underwood (25:32):
We can pull our lunch money, invest the 575 that we had [inaudible 00:25:36].
Elise Orlowski (25:38):
But no, I think that was so insightful because I think we often go into any event, it needs to be engaging, it needs to be well-produced. But I think with this specifically, investment, and they’re being this literal money on the line, just having a very strategic focus about how to use creativity in order to tell a brands’ story so that they can get investors, I think that’s fascinating.
Trip Underwood (26:03):
It’s certainly not unique to this industry and I’m actually personally very surprised to hear that people are still reluctant to that. That to me is just becoming such a big part of corporate communications, regardless of B2B, B2C, whatever it is you’re doing… We were both in the industry a few years ago when storytelling was everywhere, to hear that just now making its way into this incredibly lucrative section of the business world.
Elise Orlowski (26:29):
Tons of opportunity.
Trip Underwood (26:31):
It’s exciting. I’d love to try to get one.
Elise Orlowski (26:35):
Trip Underwood (26:37):
Do my homework, make sure I get my allowance for a [inaudible 00:26:39].
Elise Orlowski (26:40):
Speaking of allowance, I think we’ve allowed our time to be here, has come to an end, but like we say always, thank you so much for listening to Pivot Points and we’ll see you next time.
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