Earnings Calls: Keep It Simple, or Get Creative?

Posted on March 11th, 2015. Posted by [1]

Earnings Calls Creativity

When I started working in investor relations (IR) more than 25 years ago, little did I realize that “creative writing” would often boil down to finding clever synonyms for words like opportunity, growth, and transition — rather than drafting colorful, superlative-rich descriptions of corporate events and milestones. Is it possible to find a new way to express year-over-year financial comparisons or do the numbers in the financial tables mostly speak for themselves?

We are often faced with management teams that seek to fill their perceived “air time” and make their conference call stand out from the hundreds of other calls taking place. If this sounds familiar, and you find yourself wondering how much creative leeway to take with your own quarterly earnings calls[2], then keep reading as I explain where it’s possible to truly add value, and where it actually detracts from your objective.

Stick with an earnings call script template
Analysts and investors appreciate a traditional format when they listen to your quarterly earnings calls. This might make your earnings call feel like Groundhog Day to you, but sticking with a template each quarter can go a long way in helping analysts and investors track key messages, metrics, and progress on the strategies that should be laid out at the beginning of each fiscal year. The goal here is to make tracking your company’s progress as easy as possible.

We typically recommend that your CEO start the call by outlining your agenda and providing high-level business highlights of the quarter, followed by a more detailed description of those events. If your company has different business units, then we suggest that your CEO provide a few highlights or metrics for each line of business, without just repeating what was said in each press release[3]. Instead, relate business and financial events back to your strategy and the metrics your company tracks as meaningful indications of progress in the business.

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