National Investor Relations Institute
Wed - Jun, 6 | 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Location: 6B (Convention Center Level 6)
Category: Conference Workshop | Secondary Category: Communications
WidgeCo management is in a spin. We won’t tell you why; but there’s a crisis and they are ill-prepared. Join us for an interactive case-study on crisis communication. Using action-learning techniques, participants are plunged into the role of an investor relations officer on-point to advise on how re-gain control of a rapidly-escalating crisis. It’s a roller-coaster with plenty of twists and turns.
The best learning comes from doing. We simulate a crisis and put you in the middle of it. On the other side you’ll come out with multiple practical and tangible lessons of how to plan for and manage through an emergency situation.
The case - originally developed for the NIRI Southwest 2011 Conference - combines immersive participant engagement, effective simulation including media and analyst interface and subject-matter expert commentary. Fast paced, experiential and fun.
Buckson (“Buck”) Dimes stared out the window of his second story office at WidgeCo’s headquarters. The coffee he sipped absentmindedly had turned cold, but Buck didn’t notice. His eyes were fixed on the deep purple clouds that churned against the distant rolling hills, the vivid green of the summer grass contrasting sharply with the darkening sky. Outside his window, the trees stood mutely in anticipation; not a single leaf stirred.
Storm’s coming, he thought and sighed as he turned back to the mound of files that had consumed his desktop. “I’m getting too old for this.”
It had been a difficult two years since the Chumming Waters Hedge Fund had launched an aggressive activist campaign against WidgeCo, demanding not only a number of governance changes including seats on the Board, but the divestiture of the underperforming WonkWidge business. It had been a nasty fight and Buck and the Board had ultimately compromised, avoiding a very public proxy battle by selling the WonkWidge division. For a short period following the divestiture, WidgeCo’s stock had outperformed the market by 15% but WidgeCo had yet to find the right reinvestment vehicle for the cash from the sale. As the cash generated poor returns due to low interest rates, the stock had once again sunk to pre-sale levels and was currently range-bound.
Furthermore, the prolonged economic downturn had hit the Company hard. SemWidge, one of the few remaining domestic producers of widgets for the electronics industry, had seen a significant deterioration in its business volume and margins as both corporate and consumer spending had ground to a halt. Even MilWidge, once largely viewed as being immune to general economic conditions, had come under pressure as defense appropriations had been scaled back by Secretary of Defense Panetta. Only the MarWidge division, producer of widgets for the shipping and tanker industry, had shown any significant growth, due to its revolutionary new widget design for high pressure liquid natural gas tankers.
The Board was pressuring Buck not only to launch the next phase of WidgeCo’s strategic growth and make better use of the Company’s cash balance, but to finalize a succession plan to fill the gap caused when Ari Sing Starr, the previous heir apparent, had resigned as part of the sale of the WonkWidge division. And now Pressure Cooker Valves, a third-party assembly plant which had been contracted to manufacture the MarWidge widget, was having production issues. If these couldn’t be solved quickly, WidgeCo wouldn’t be able to meet its delivery obligations to customers and there would be a significant impact to earnings. The Company couldn’t afford any more damage to its reputation and Buck hated the thought of explaining the issues to the Board.
Buck’s eyes swept over his desk again and he made his decision. He needed to personally visit the Pressure Cooker Valves facility to see what could be done to solve the manufacturing issues and get things moving again, whatever the cost. He would leave immediately. Gathering up his files, he grabbed his jacket, hesitated a moment, then grabbed an umbrella. He flicked the office lights off, closed the door, and told his assistant where he was going and when he expected to be back. His assistant looked up from sorting the mail that had just arrived - mail that included a red inter-office envelope from Dr. Fran Kay Stein, head of WidgeCo’s research and development group. Had Buck received that envelope, it might have changed what would happen next. But he didn’t and then he was gone.
Outside, the wind picked up and whipped the trees into a frenzy. The sky grew black and rain began to splatter in large drops against Buck’s window.
THE STORM HAS ARRIVED!
Edward Ferris, Managing Partner
Charlesmore Partners International
Sydney Rosencranz Isaacs, Senior Vice President
The Abernathy MacGregor Group
James Lucas, Managing Director
The Abernathy MacGregor Group
John Palizza, Lecturer in Management & Consultant
Jones School of Business, Rice University & Three Part Advisors
Rachel Posner, Senior Managing Director & General Counsel
Matthew Sherman, Partner
Joele Frank, Willkinson Brimmer Katcher
Matt Taylor, CFA, Vice President
Taylor Thoen, CEO - Founder, Executive Producer
BTV Business Television
Scott Winters, Vice President Corporate Planning & Research
Plains Exploration & Production Co.
- Learn how an IRO (Investor Relations Officer) can and should respond during a crisis
- Learn what IROs can and cannot plan for in terms of a crisis
- Give IROs enough confidence and knowledge of the core principals to be active participants and leaders in their company's process in planning for and responding to crises
- Understand the differences in dealing with the various constituent audiences during a crisis --media, analysts, suppliers, employees and more