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This is extraordinary. A company, a Zambian company, that is using every conceivable channel to communicate with investors. How often do you see that in Africa? Not often. What is Copperbelt Energy Corporation Plc ("CEC") doing?

If there is one sentence to describe CEC's online investor relations strategy  it's:-
"Enabling investors find CEC, rather than CEC finding them...
In the corporate governance and investor relations sense, CEC is doing everything to enable investors to connect with them. In the commercial context, this is called "inbound marketing". In CEC's context this could be called "inbound corporate governance".

This "inbound" modern marketing strategy is premised upon people being so tired of being bombarded with marketing material from many, many channels all day every day, that marketers have had to rethink strategies to engage with customers and potential customers. Marketers have to use VALUABLE and USEFUL information and content to get the attention of customers in a positive way rather than an imposing one.

In the investor relations sense, investors in Africa are NOT BOMBARDED with investor relations information from listed companies. Nevertheless, the principle of outreach remains the same. It's good corporate governance to be reaching out and it relies on having a good story and the content to back it up. CEC has a unique story to tell and by enabling so many communications channels, CEC does not have to go and find investors in the old school way.

So what's so special?


There are no less than 13 ways to communicate with Copperbelt Energy Corporation plc :

No. 1 A mobile app



This app gives investors mobile access to the latest stock data, news, company announcements from CEC, as well as proprietary company content including presentations, conference calls, videos, annual reports and other qualitative company information. Investors are able to receive push notifications when new content is added ; add events to their calendars, share content as well as download it for offline viewing.


No 2. An SMS service


Primarily for shareholders to receive dividend news, this SMS service is another jigsaw piece in kaleidoscope of communications channels investors are likely to appreciate. Retail investors with fancy mobile devices or PCs, have a direct message communications channel to hear when their dividend is paid. That's all the retail investor really cares about: dividends, a fact forgotten by most listed companies in their shareholder communications services. So this functionality is good corporate governance.


No. 3 A comprehensive website


CEC's website sets the standard for comprehensiveness and functionality and the company's proactive outreach to investors clearly visible at every turn.


No. 4 An email alert service


The most popular communications method for the majority of investors is email alerts. Sent to registrants as soon as news or announcements become available this communications channel also includes links to other channels in every communication...


Now, for the convenience of investors, CEC publishes investor content in the body of the email to avoid investors having to download unwieldy PDFs - also to ensure that investors'-butterfly-attention-spans don't flit off to some other activity. Here's an example of the content in the email:-


That's the top half of the email. The bottom half shows some pretty important information, information that's valuable to professional investors, such as EV/EBITDA ratios and things like that:-


Note too that the CEC mobile app is promoted at the base of the email: again reaching out at every opportunity to capture the attention of investors.

No. 5 A Twitter account that gushes African power sector news



The CEC twitter account @cecinvestor aggregates and publishes a really comprehensive array of pan-African energy and power news day in, day out. If there is one Twitter account you should follow to cover African power news its @cecinvestor. They're direct links to the news articles from Twitter.

Again, for the convenience of investors, and CEC clearly cares about this, key investor data is published daily on the platform, clear and simple, for immediate digestion by investors. They go one step further and tweet the Lusaka Stock Exchange's indices on a daily basis too.


Using infographics CEC also accentuates interesting statistics on other African countries power profiles:-


This rich news stream of content contextualises the African power growth story, one that is very prominent in the press presently.

No. 6Facebook account that has something for everyone



CEC's Facebook page has over 8,600 likes and uses creative graphics to capture fans' attention.
Now posting information onto Facebook can't be done willy-nilly, one has to choose content carefully, otherwise people just don't "like" it. Again, this communications channel reaches out, but to a different audience, a more social and personal one.


You'll notice the high level of engagement CEC gets from its posts, not all of which are related to the company itself. CEC regularly publishes links to third party articles related to the same sector and, in the case below, the same industry. This shows that the company cares generally about getting news published about their industry as a whole. This adds credibility for the company too.

You will also notice that the imagery on the CEC Facebook page is changed regularly and the page is used to publish infographics on the potential of investing in the power sector in Africa helping investors understand the company, it's potential and the potential growth of the energy sector in Africa.

Here's an example of an infographic illustrating where CEC Africa is active:-


Here is a simple but bold info-graphic of a contextualisation of the African energy opportunity:-


No. 6 (a) The element of familiarity with the brand has spawned "Baenergy" - a hashtag is born


You will notice that the interactions that CEC has with its communities has resulted in their nickname "Baenergy" coming to the fore in hashtags. This is natural, from fans, not fomented by the company it appears, and so the company becomes part of everyday conversation.

The success of the Facebook page (in terms of fans), means that the company can post adverts offering jobs or tenders and be guaranteed wide exposure:-


No. 7 Google + Google LOVES Google +


CEC also integrates its investor relations information into Google +.


Having a Google + account enables CEC to tell Google about its content. Google loves Google and this small additional action, completes yet another step to being found online.CEC only has 53 followers on Google + but the account has received over 33,000 views.

The key takeaway here is that if you start aggregating all of these channels, their effects and content over time, their combined effects start making an impact. It's clear that CEC understands this.

No. 8 There's a secret to CEC using an RSS feed


If you don't know what an RSS feed is, then don't worry, all you have to know is that the people that do, news sites (like www.allafrica.com etc.) use them to collect news automatically into their databases, for onward transmission to their own websites, or for consumption. It makes their life so much easier...whilst enhancing the prospects of your news releases being seen around the world.


Here's one of CEC's feeds pages where people can sign up. So, taken what you have read so far, it's clear that yet another communications channel is being used for CEC to disseminate its message to a specific audience, an audience that's very different to say, the Zambian stay-at-home-mum that follows the CEC Facebook page, because she happens to live in the Copperbelt.


Professional investors will use RSS feeds to aggregate news from the companies that they follow to ensure that they don't miss a beat.

No. 9 CEC's LinkedIN - the silent champion of quality outreach


CEC has 242 employees on LinkedIn. Because they are employees they get to see every news item posted on LinkedIn - no effort on CEC's part - all CEC has to do is post their news on LinkedIn. So yet again, here's targetting another niche section of CEC's community: employees. But there's more to this: in TOTAL CEC has 1,277 followers....that's quite a lot.


So, there's a total of 1,277 followers (or 1,035 followers excluding staff) on the CEC LinkedIN page. A community in excess of 1,000 followers for sub-Saharan listed companies is quite impressive. They comprise a niche audience (professionals) just waiting for information to come their way.

It's quite interesting to see how much more engaged CEC's LinkedIN followers are when viewing news posted on LinkedIN: the news release below has an engagement rate in excess of 2%, far better than Facebook engagement rates in general.


No. 10 CEC excels in transparency through investor conference calls


CEC hosts investor conference calls and here is what they do:-
  • - they post the transcript of the call online
  • - they post the audio of the call online
  • - they embed the audio in the presentation sent to investors
  • - they make all of this available to investors
Why does CEC stand out because of this? I challenge you to find any other listed Zambian or indeed, sub-Saharan companies that publish their calls online.


There are companies that have investor calls but they don't publish them online. This is not good corporate governance. From a corporate governance perspective, the fundamental principle of equality of access to information may be diluted where this sort information is not published online for the general public. CEC IS publishing their investor call information online (with full transcripts) at a most challenging time in their investment into the African continent. That takes guts and underpins their belief in their business model and corporate governance practices.

Here's three more reasons why CEC's investor relations corporate governance practices are impressive:-
  • African capital market regulators do not mandatorily require investor calls to be published as part of their listing rules (unlike international markets)
  • There is no legislation mandatorily requiring the publication of investor conference calls on corporate websites (unlike international markets)
  • There are no corporate governance code provisions that require the publication of this information on corporate websites. (Unlike international markets)
CEC actively solicits interested investors to receive conference call information (this is called "push technology")


In short, the CEC management team are applying best practices internationally to their investor relations and communications corporate governance.

No. 11 A comprehensive downloads archive is the go-to area for investors carrying out research


Further to the availability of investor call information CEC makes all of its investor material available by way of download on its website.


You will see that the latest investor conference call presentation (with the audio embedded in the investor presentation FOR THE CONVENIENCE OF INVESTORS) is displayed next to a comprehensive archive of downloads, should investors wish to get more context.

Investors have access to historical data so that they can get an understanding of the long-term performance of the company.


No. 12 Face to Face at the AGM & investor meetings


CEC also actively encourages participation in its AGM as the company recognises the importance of enabling all shareholders to have their say. The numerous communications channels all support this activity.




By Rob Stangroom | View his LinkedIn profile
 
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