R&D Days provide an opportunity for a deeper dive into a company’s scientific work. Over the course of a few hours, a management team can help build the understanding and appreciation of its audience (primarily investors, usually) for stronger relationships and more informed coverage or other shareholder activity.
The relatively short duration of an R&D Day belies its often highly intensive preparation. Many teams see it as an opportunity to bring their story up-to-date and maximize its delivery. With investor engagement in mind, teams must align around key questions regarding their strategy and portfolio and how best to present the information – visually and verbally. This entails cross-functional work through many iterations of core documents. Expert communications input helps navigate key areas of tension, the best way to present the story, and develop the most compelling visuals.
Over many years, the Ten Bridge team has identified the factors that ensure a successful R&D Day. These can largely be grouped into two key ideas:
Build momentum – and keep it rolling!
Start early! To avoid an all-consuming rush that attracts version control nightmares and suboptimal presentation, we strongly recommend considering your first instinct about preparation time needed… and doubling it. Portfolio size and complexity of course has a huge weighting here. But as a rule of thumb, as the overview graphic below lays out, 2-3 months is a brisk but comfortable timeframe for fully realizing an impactful R&D Day. More companies are also now considering doing more frequent, smaller ‘mini-R&D sessions’ focused on a specific theme or area of their portfolio. This would also be the time to consult your IR agency if you have one, to ensure your messaging aligns with what investors are expecting.
Consider going virtual: The key decision is: virtual or in-person. Virtual R&D Days are popular now and can actually deliver better attendance, including people who wouldn’t otherwise show up – especially difficult-to-book KOLs! A virtual setting simplifies logistics and reduces cost. There is less opportunity for in-person interaction but of course post-event follow-up with individualized calls is welcome. With virtual sessions, you can record the majority of the corporate presentation in advance to avoid tech issues, saving Q&A for a live session. There are various platforms for doing this now which can help reduce stress on the day.
Don’t forget the Q&A: Many teams underestimate the time and work required to align around a full set of Q&A. This core document can change substantially between highly visible moments such as R&D Days, so often requires substantial updates and cross-functional input – this is especially time-consuming for public companies. It is remarkable how often the process of alignment throws up new questions or internal misunderstandings that would otherwise have been unaddressed. The outcome of a fully aligned team is often just as valuable as the document itself!
Build momentum – and keep it rolling!
Make it newsy! A timely portfolio announcement can help elevate your R&D Day as a priority for investors to tune into. A new partnership, new data, new programs – all can be an effective driver of interest and give an added sense of momentum to the day. The news item can act as the foundation of your content, particularly if it has significant implications for your corporate strategy.
Initiate a new phase of your content strategy: You’ve worked so hard to present the latest evolution of the company’s story. With the right planning, you’ve built new visual assets and messaging to effectively convey the upside in your recent activity. After the R&D Day, plan to integrate those new assets in your corporate communications (website, social media, newsletters, media kits & fact sheets, animations, etc.) to ensure your communications remain integrated and up-to-date, and that you’re continuing the key messages of your R&D Day.