Pre-PDAC: Know Your Audience

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AME is gearing up for the PDAC International Trade Show, Investor’s Exchange in Toronto – next week from Sunday, March 4 to Wednesday, March 7. We hope that you join us as at booth 2608 in the Mining Marketplace on the Investors Exchange floor.

We wish all our members headed to Toronto a successful convention. Vanessa Pickering offers some tips for maximizing your investor pitch based on her experience on the convention floor.


Picture it. 2004. Buried in the depths of the Marriott San Francisco’s conference centre, your humble (ha) “Investor Relations” person stands at a booth for the first time. Not only am I nervous, I have never talked to an investor in-person before and although I’ve studied my company’s PowerPoint and factsheet intently… I don’t know what I’m doing!

The first investor comes by and all the seasoned vets in my booth stand back to give me a chance to reel them in. I fumble madly trying to tell them the history of the company since it was just a figment of an idea in my president’s head. I am almost verbatim giving the history of the project right out of an assessment report! The would-be investor loses interest and wanders away at a rather a fast clip. The second investor stops in and I manage to keep his attention and shorten my oration until I mortify myself and reduce my colleagues to tears of laughter when instead of handing him a business card from my right suit-jacket pocket, I hand him my hotel room key. After ripping my hotel room key out of the investor’s hands and retreating to hide behind my boss in an attempt to blend into our 200-pound carpet booth, I wonder if I’m cut out for this racket.

My boss, while wiping his eyes and clearing the laughter from his throat, decides to take pity on me. “Vanessa, you need to distill the message. Keep it succinct and let them ask for additional information if they want it.” He motioned for me to listen as another investor came up to our booth.

“Hi, Do you know anything about XYZ Company? No? Well we’re a gold exploration company that’s focused on the 123 Project in Far North, Canada. We have a joint venture with So&So Company and this past summer we drilled 8,000 m and the grades have been encouraging. We’re waiting on the final 10 holes which should come out in the next month at which point we’ll consider undertaking a resource estimate.”  The investor nods and asks for our market cap and how much cash we have. My boss tells him these facts, asks if he has a factsheet on the company and whether he’d like to be on our news distribution list. Hands are shaken, business cards (not hotel room keys) are exchanged and both parties are satisfied.

Fourteen years later, I’m still trying to find new ways to take these complex and massively technical stories and break them down into manageable pieces for investors to consume. Knowing how to engage your audience starts with knowing your audience. It starts with listening more than you talk and then listening some more. The more you hear the same question from different groups means you aren’t distilling your message correctly. Something is getting lost in translation.

I must remember that each different stakeholder I engage with needs a slightly different pitch from me. I must remember that a mining analyst receives thousands of emails a day and that recapping a news release and giving them some context for my results, ultimately makes my news more palatable. If a retail shareholder calls, my excitement for my project should show through and I should be able to give them a general idea of the upcoming news flow. If a community member calls, I need to recap what we did last year, what we’re doing next year and when we’ll be visiting next. Most importantly I must remember to not make people work for my information. And if I don’t have the answer, “let me ask someone who knows, and I’ll get back to you.”


Vanessa Pickering is Manager of Corporate Communications and Development for IDM Mining.

For further tips on communicating with investors, see our post on the AME Speaker Series Junior Company Playbook: Positioning Your Company for Success event here