Blender Client Spotlight: an interview with NOVAGOLD


Our favourite part about what we do is the awesome client relationships we develop and the great people we get to work with each day. Full of insight, good stories, and interesting tidbits about the investor relations world and beyond, our clients are always a great source of learning for us.

Mélanie Hennessey, the VP of Corporate Communications for NOVAGOLD and Erin O’Toole, NOVAGOLD’s investor relations analyst, are no exception. NOVAGOLD’s new website launched this September and has brought much success, including winning the CSSDesign Special Kudos Award. Fresh off the heels of their new website, we sat down with Mélanie and Erin to ask them more about their roles in investor relations, the changing IR world, and the influence of elements such as social media and the push for more CSR initiatives. We hope you enjoy the read!


NOVAGOLD interview


1.    Tell us about NOVAGOLD’s investor relations team. What does an average day in the NOVAGOLD IR world look like?

The one thing we can count on is that an average day does not exist in our world. Our days often require multitasking and a lot of prioritizing as we wear many hats. Being resourceful, flexible and adaptable to various situations is key to getting the job done effectively.


2.    NOVAGOLD’s newly redesigned website places emphasis on the ‘We Care’ section and corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Why is it important to emphasize CSR when it comes to investor relations?

Being a good neighbor has been ingrained in NOVAGOLD’s corporate culture from the beginning. We called the section “We Care” because we see CSR as so much more than just obtaining a social license to operate. For us, it’s about making lasting connections and building collaborative relationships with our partners, investors, community residents, First Nation and Native Corporations, Board of Directors and other stakeholders.

Our projects are located in remote areas inhabited by communities largely dependent on subsistence living and traditional ways-of-life. It is our job to continuously enhance our knowledge of and ties to the people of the region and various stakeholders. This is what led to the production of our four-part Alaska Video Series.

NOVAGOLD interview

3.  NOVAGOLD is very active on Twitter and regularly tweets out news releases and conference call reminders. How has incorporating social media into your IR strategy helped your company?


Social media has been a daily part of NOVAGOLD’s communication strategy since 2010. By being an active participant in these outlets, our audience knows that the Company welcomes an open discussion. The key to keeping audiences engaged is being consistent, reliable and personal. Social media brings in a human element to a company’s brand which is far different than a prescriptive approach where a disclosure is meticulously vetted.

It is important to remember that whether or not a company is active in social media, all companies receive mentions and discussions between users that are posted for mass consumption. By closely monitoring these discussions, we can track the sentiment surrounding the stock, as well as address any rumors or misperceptions.

NOVAGOLD interview

4. What advice would you give other public companies who are looking to add digital elements such as live-tweeting and webcasts to their future investor relations initiatives?

Start small and don’t bite off more than you can chew. If your company has never used social media or any other digital elements, start with just one or two initiatives such as a Twitter account and a quarterly webcast.

Consistency also is key. Whether you plan to post once a day or three times a week, make sure you stick with it. Nothing looks worse than an abandoned profile. It is also important to set realistic goals and have a plan on how you will be monitoring your efforts. Through a bit of trial and error, you will be able to identify what works best for you and your company. what works for you.

And, don’t forget to have fun with it!

NOVAGOLD interview

5.    What are some key challenges you see investor relations teams facing in the next few years?

A main challenge for an IR professional is always knowing the audience and staying one step ahead in an environment where a company’s stakeholders can change rapidly when compared to market trends 5 years ago. Having a thorough understanding of your stakeholder base, both who they are and their needs, is crucial in developing an effective communications strategy.

Communication is a two-way street and we utilize many different channels to stay in touch with different stakeholders. The goal is to keep our brand fresh but consistent. Finding the right balance and flow of communication takes time but definitely pays off.

NOVAGOLD interview

6.    What excites you about where the investor relations profession is headed?

It is exciting that smart companies are recognizing the tremendous value-add of having a communications and IR strategy. Contrary to popular belief, marketing and communication efforts are measurable, and the outcomes are extremely beneficial to the overall performance of the company.

Attracting new investors while maintaining our current shareholder base, building collaborative relationships with local stakeholders who understand our vision and objectives, and consistently delivering on our business plan are examples of positive indicators that efforts are paying off and our strategy is successful.

NOVAGOLD interview

7.    Is there a specific website you visit or IR tool you use that is crucial for IR success?

Our group relies on a number of platforms and tools that help us stay on track and accomplish our objectives. On a daily basis, we use research databases, market surveillance platforms, content management systems, social media, and our own network to name a few. We consider our network a central tool that includes our Board, subsidiaries, analyst, fund managers, government officials, other IROS, and local stakeholders. It is important for us to regularly seek input, enhancing our knowledge base and continuously improving the work we do.

Bonus Question:

8.    What’s one element about your job that would surprise people?  

NOVAGOLD interview

To effectively do our job we have to be chameleons meaning that we need to be generalists in our knowledge of the company, assets and industry, while being able to quickly adapt our approach to the audience at hand. From the bush of rural Southwest Alaska to the Board room, we need to successfully deliver our message and tell our story. Being attune to our environment, reading people’s body language as well as their reception to information are skills that we rely on daily. Again, it is all about building and maintaining connections.

It’s a dynamic, fast-paced role. We never have a dull moment… and wouldn’t have it any other way.



Thanks for your wonderful insight Mélanie and Erin, and we’re so happy to work with you and the rest of the NOVAGOLD team. And don’t forget to check out NOVAGOLD’s new, award-winning website!

How to be an expert at live-tweeting for investor relations

So retro. We gave you a cheat sheet over two years ago to help you live-tweet IR events, but we’re coming back bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to talk about IR tweeting 2.0. Twitter has absolutely taken off in the past two years, especially when it comes to investor relations practices and how IR professionals and public companies alike are using social media to circulate news and get people listening. What’s new in the world of live-tweeting, and how can some new practices help more people clue in to an annual meeting or an earnings call?

Here’s what’s new and need-t0-know (as well as some golden oldies) when you’re preparing to live-tweet at an IR event

*Disclaimer:* since we’re IR specific, some of these tips may be a bit different than if you were live-tweeting any big convention or event, especially since the world of investor relations comes with a lot more rules and regulations. We’ve tweaked a few of the best pointers out there so they fit better in the IR world, but some pointers remain true for all parties (everyone, I repeat EVERYONE, loves images).


Before You Go

1. Schedule tweets ahead of time and use templates

One thing’s for sure: during the event you probably won’t even have much time to pee, let alone compose all your tweets with appropriate event hashtags, individual tags, and eye-catching images. Believe it or not, a lot of live-tweeting prep work can be done before you’re actually live. Create tweet-optimized images of those people speaking, whether it’s the CEO, CFO, or other. Leave white space, and during their actual presentation you can quickly fill in the template and tweet away.

2. Cross promote on other social media accounts

Even though live-tweeting is for Twitter, who says Facebook can’t get in on the fun? You don’t have to simultaneously tweet with one account and post to Facebook at the same time (that’s sweaty work) but at least let your Facebook community know that you’ll be live-tweeting the upcoming event. Share the hashtag on Facebook, say WHEN the live-tweeting will begin, and add a link where they can follow you on Twitter.

3. Make them save the date (like a wedding)

Your event is the most important thing that will happen that day, and make sure people know it. Our client NOVAGOLD tweeted out their Q3 conference call date three weeks before go-time. Now that’s prepared.


4. Know the correct hashtag and cashtag

Those people following your event are like sheep. And you–and your Twitter hashtag prowess–are their shepherd. Create an official event hashtag (or find the official hashtag if you’re not putting on the event) and tweet out to your community days beforehand what the hashtag will be. Since it’s an IR event, cashtags are also key. Each live-tweet needs to include the company’s cashtag so investors will easily find all the tweets when searching.


It's Go Time


5. Give people some “insider secrets”

The whole reason many people may be following your live-tweet session is because they aren’t there! Sounds obvious, but think about it. Use your special ‘insider status’ to tweet pictures of what’s going on inside the room, speakers as they’re presenting, and any important presentation slides. Just make sure everything you’re tweeting is IR-okayed and public company approved.

6. Walk people through the itinerary 

Since the majority of your audience isn’t there unless they’re also live-tweeting, make sure you’re very clear about who’s speaking at all times and where the conversation is at. Even if you feel like you’re over-clarifying, that’s ok. We like Ebay’s example below. They tweet to their audience right before the event begins and clearly announce who is speaking first.


7. Tweet out influencer speeches

We talk about ‘quotebiting’ a lot when it comes to Twitter for investor relations purposes, but it’s especially crucial if you’re live-tweeting an IR event. If you need a refresher, when we refer to ‘quote-biting’ we mean tweeting out a crucial quote from the CEO, CFO, etc. during the presentation. The Social Media Examiner also recommends “creat[ing] blank-quote Twitter templates with your logo to capture important points from speakers”.


8. Check your tone

Tweeting for IR is a bit different than live-tweeting for any other big event (so forget those sweaty, Apple enthusiasts tweeting up a storm), as your #1 goal is to clearly share the information that’s being presented. However, make sure the tone of your tweets also matches the tone and personality of the company and leadership you’re representing. Live-tweeting is all about being accessible, so your tone doesn’t have to be full of corporate language. Be informal, but be informative.


The "After" Party

9. Connect with any new followers

This could be as simple as a ‘Thanks for connecting at [event]’ tweet, and reminding people where they can go to ask any further investor relations questions they may have.

10. #ICYMI

In the days following, tweet out a visual representation of the most important numbers from the event in case people missed your live-tweet. Also remind people of the hashtag associated with the live-tweeting, so they can go back and filter out all the IR information after the event.


Extra Credit: (a few extra tid-bits to get you started) 

11. Don’t forget to let your followers know exactly when your live-tweet session is beginning and, more importantly, when ‘that’s all folks!’

12. Remember to use a ‘.’ at the beginning of a tweet where you’re tweeting about someone using their @handle first, if you want your network to see the tweet, and not just that one person.

13. This could easily be a two person job. Consider having one person doing all the live-tweeting, while another is checking the engagement, following back relevant new followers, and responding to your community right away. That way there’s both a steady stream of information going out as well as someone engaging with others.

14. Over prepare. Especially if it’s your first live-tweeting rodeo. Come to the event with templates, take pictures before that you can tweet out during the event, and schedule all the tweets you can (like event reminders, presenter bios, and when the live-tweeting will begin and end).

Good luck!


Why General Electric is the smartest brand on social media

What if a 100 year old person was better at social media than you? A lot of brands better be asking themselves this question, because General Electric is 123 years old this year and are rocking every social media platform from LinkedIn to Vine. It’s not just about the brand’s commanding presence on social media, however. We’re more interested in the way a century-old company who most people know best through lightbulbs and refrigerators can take every aspect of social media, from GIFs to infographics, and integrate them seamlessly into their strategy. Here are some main reasons why GE kills it daily on social media.

1. They encourage conversation and participation

GE always has a social media contest going on. Last year they took to Vine to get people talking about science. Their #6SecondScienceFair invited everyone to interact with their brand by capturing a 6 second video of the coolest science experiment they could create. GE posted their favourites on their own social media page, and created a tumblr account for all the best videos. Like the experts they are, GE made sure to tie the fun contest back to their main message of influencing science and technology. (They also won a shiny award for this educational video series at the 2014 Cannes Lions advertising competition).

6 second science fair


2. They experiment with new sharing platforms 

General Electric is known for being early adopters of new social media platforms (for instance they got on Vine one day after the video-sharing app launched). Now, GIFS within tweets is the new image within tweets. One brilliant aspect of GE’s social media strategy is that they know how to take each emerging platform or trend and seamlessly integrate it with their mission. Check out how they put GIFS to work in the example below. An inside glimpse of a new ice nugget maker? Sweet, I’m in.


GE has also been all over Periscope lately, the new video live-streaming app. Their most recent endeavour included a ‘DroneWeek’ where, using a modified drone, General Electric gave social media followers an up-close and personal look at the biggest and tallest machines.

Live on Periscope

3. They personalize their brand

General Electric is proud of everything they create, and they let people know. Their Instagram account is full of behind the scenes images and videos detailing a day in the life of a GE employee as well as glimpse s of testing facilities, aviation grounds, and wind turbine fields. Their Instagram is a machine enthusiast’s fantasy: who doesn’t like giant pictures of airplane engines and gas turbine load compressors? Behind the scenes snapshots are also smart because they increase the brand’s positive reputation and build enthusiasm and trust between the company and its social media followers.



4. They teach as well as promote

GE promotes the new technologies they’re working on through social media the best possible way: they educate users about what they’re building. Their YouTube series ‘Invention Factory’ provides an investigation on some of humanity’s biggest questions, and how GE is looking for answers. They’ve produced many videos such as the one below to create enthusiasm about their big picture work.

5. They embrace the light-hearted aspect of social media

GE seriously promotes their technology and their mission, but they also know when to loosen their ties and have a little fun. They’re big fans of emojis on Twitter. (And in general, check out their whole EmojiScience campaign).


6. They keep investors in the loop

While some companies may believe that social media and investor relations doesn’t mix, General Electric challenges that idea with a seamless integration between the two worlds. (We also think it’s a perfect marriage, and we’ve written about it before). General electric releases investor highlights on their social media channels with bold images for easy sharing and consumption. Keeping investors in-the-know on social media makes for a more engaged investor audience.


7. They love engaging other brands

It’s clear that GE has a lot of fun on social media, and they love engaging other brands. A lot of times GE’s Twitter will publish an Emoji puzzler concerning a historic scientific breakthrough and will call out other companies and invite them to take a guess. They also love congratulatory tweets, and spread love to everyone from NASA to Bill Nye the Science Guy.





How to use Twitter to promote your website


The term ‘Twitter ad’ is pretty ambiguous, as it can refer to any post to Twitter with a paid boost. There are different types of ads including promoted tweets, promoted trends, and promoted accounts. For this post, we’re talking about creating a Twitter website card to specifically promote your website. This tactic can be used to promote your main corporate site, your investor relations site, or a site you’ve created for a special campaign. Whatever your goal is, read below for some tips on how to create the perfect website card.

First thing’s first: what in the world is a website card?

A Twitter website card is a type of ‘Twitter card’, or a tweet that contains an image and a call to action button that helps direct a user to where you want them to go. With a website card, the goal is a specific URL. Brendan Zhang, a member of Twitter’s small business team, wrote that “website cards work to turn ordinary tweets into a creative showcase of your website”.

The best part about them is that they’re actually free to use! It’s your choice whether or not to put money behind a card and promote it. That’s where website cards turn into promoted Twitter ads.

Anatomy of a website card

A Twitter website card has four main components: a headline, a 800×320 image, a call-to-action button and the URL of the website you’re driving traffic to. We’re going to break down each element and give you some tips on how to capitalize on every space you’re given.

Here’s an example of a Twitter website card with its main parts (the URL is included with Call To Action button):

Twitter website card

70 character headline

This is where you want to be catchy, catchy, catchy. Or where you directly explain the benefit a user gets when clicking onto your site. Here are some tips when writing a website card headline:

  1. Don’t use all 70 characters if you don’t absolutely have to. Be short and sweet, but still get your message across.
  2. The headline should state exactly what a user gets by clicking that button. Misleading info will just frustrate everyone.
  3. You can choose to accompany the website card with a 140 character tweet. If you do this, don’t repeat information in both the tweet and the card headline. Always give something new.
  4. Seriously. Be concise. Brevity is the soul of wit. And yep, that was a little Shakespeare for you.

 Card image

The image is arguably the most important part of the card. So do your research! Here are some tips in the meantime:

  1. No ambiguous images. Choose one that directly connects with your headline and the website you’re directing people to.
  2. Triple check that the image you chose is high-quality and the right size, or things will get fuzzy and you’ll look unprofessional.
  3. Consider creating an image that has some words included. Take a look at our example above of our winged ‘IR Champ’ logo.
  4. People like to see images of other people interacting with what you’re offering. Example: if you’re a surfboard company, choose a high-quality image of someone overjoyed to be on a surfboard instead of an image of a lonely surfboard lying in the sand.

Call-to-action button

This is where you get them to actually click. Unfortunately with a Twitter card you can’t write your own call to action, but we’d argue that’s the right way to do it. This way you’re forced to be more concise, and as we’ve learned, that’s good. Twitter provides you with almost 20 different options, such as ‘learn more’, ‘visit now,’ ‘register now’, and ‘subscribe’. Time for a few tips!

  1. If you’re promoting your company or investor website, ‘visit now’ is a safe bet. You can also consider creating a Twitter website card for a specific part of your site like a page where users subscribe to your email newsletter.
  2. Again, make sure all parts of the card are connected and make sense. The image needs to relate to the headline which needs to relate to the call-to-action word.

 Website address/URL

This part is straightforward. Make sure you’re including the right URL, especially if it’s for a subsection of your main website.

  1. Triple check your link before you publish the website card. No one likes a broken link, especially if you’re promoting the ad with some dollars.

Final Thoughts:

  1. Try some free website cards first before putting any real money behind them. Test them with your followers to see if the headline makes sense and the image is eye-catching.
  2. Always make sure your Twitter website cards are up-to-date if you’re running them in an ad. Don’t launch a card and forget about it, because as long as you’re paying for it, it will still be out there.
  3. Even if your ad campaign is running for a long time, swap up the images and content. Keep it new and fresh so your audience won’t glaze over the same ad.

6 tricks to master Twitter for Investor Relations

Introduction: How to use Twitter for investor relations

You loved our ‘How to use social media for investor relations’ blog back in March, so we thought we’d focus in a little and talk about that little blue bird, and how utilizing Twitter for investor relations can benefit your company. Here are 6 tips to help you navigate through Twitter’s feature to help with day-to-day investor relations communications.


1. Embed a Twitter timeline at the bottom of your IR homepage

Allow investors to keep up with you socially without leaving your site by embedding your Twitter timeline at the bottom of the homepage. Many available timeline widgets out there allow users to tweet back to your company, share an individual post, and follow you, all from your IR site. If your company has multiple Twitter accounts–say one main corporate account and a separate one for IR–an embedded timeline for your IR account can serve as a quick at-a-glance of your most recently tweeted investor news.



2. Tweet the numbers out with an infographic

Using Twitter for investor relations doesn’t have to be boring. Here are some great and colourful examples from GE and T-Mobile IR. Infographics get you around that 140 character barrier, they’re easily shareable, and make those numbers more engaging to your followers. Pick one highlight from the infographic to share in the actual tweet underneath the pic.




3. Use Twitter for earnings call Q&As 

The immediacy of Twitter is what makes the social networking platform really stand out. Use the real-time aspect to have shareholders and interested parties alike tweet your company questions during your most recent earnings call. Multiple companies are already trying this out, such as T-Mobile and Twitter themselves. Let your community of followers know the appropriate hashtag to tweet with a day or two before the call (T-Mobile asked their followers to tweet their questions to #TMUSearnings, and Twitter used #TWTRearnings).  During their first quarter earnings call of 2015, T-Mobile’s CEO John Legere was proud of the company’s third “open Twitter conference” and announced that the company would be taking questions “via text, and Twitter, as well as the normal dial-in questions”.



4. Know how your cashtag can work for you

We told you about cashtags last time, but want to talk about them again since no Twitter for IR list would be complete without them. A ‘cashtag’ is your comapny’s ticker symbol with a ‘$’ in front that creates its own feed. Think of it like a clickable stock symbol. Exactly like a hashtag, searching a cashtag symbol (lets say $TWTR for Twitter) will pull up a separate Twitter feed of all the market conversations going on about that company. Searching your company’s cashtag every once and a while is a great way to keep up with the conversation. Sidebar: there are other great ways to use your ticker symbol for further IR site exposure. Check out how GoDaddy used their symbol in a way barely any of the Fortune 500 have figured out.



5. ‘Quotebite’ your annual meeting or earnings call 

We’re not sure if ‘quotebite’ is a real word, but it made sense for what we wanted to talk about next, so we’re making it one. Exactly how a news broadcast uses a ‘soundbite’ from an important televised event, some companies are beginning to use Twitter during their annual meetings to tweet meeting highlights and memorable quotes from the CEO. Check out how General Electric and Hewlett-Packard used Twitter in their annual meeting and earnings call. Quotebites can help make the meeting more accessible and more shareable.





6. Get familiar with Twitter lists

Many people still don’t know what the mysterious ‘Lists’ selection is at the top of their Twitter profile page of how they can greatly benefit your Twitter for investor relations strategy. Twitter lists are a curated group of Twitter users. You can create lists for yourself or subscribe to be a part of someone else’s list. You don’t have to be following someone to add them to your list. Twitter lists are great because they allow you to break the vast social network down into more manageable groups that you care about. Find influencers in your industry or lists you want your company to be a part of and subscribe to them. Being a member of various Twitter lists is a really simple but great way to get your company more exposure.

using Twitter for investor relations



how to use Twitter for investor relations


9 tips to improve investor communication with your website

Be a bard for a burrito: Chipotle fans get poetic

Hmm. Two food-related blog posts in a row…can you tell we’re writing these close to lunch?

Chipotle launched a 24 hour social media campaign last Friday aimed at getting people talking about their love for the food chain’s menu. Burrito lovers everywhere got to brush off their 9th grade creative writing smarts and compose a Haiku about the company in an attempt to win a free dinner for two (at Chipotle, of course).


This promotion highlights a great way to incorporate social media into marketing tactics. The food chain got people tweeting and posting on Facebook about their love for their brand, but asked them to do so in a fun and creative way.

They posted some official rules Friday morning on their blog:

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 3.03.40 PM
















A bunch of rules come after this…they’re pretty serious about it. The blog says, “For Facebook entries: posting a haiku to the wall on Chipotle’s official Facebook page during the promotion period [10 AM ET on Thursday, February 5 until 11:59 PM] For Twitter entries: posting a tweet to @chipotletweets during the promotion period”.

USA Today writes “Chipotle Communications Director Chris Arnold said they’ve done similar promotions in the past. Why haikus? ‘It’s a good way to engage with customers and ask them to share their thoughts, but also to put some parameters around that to provide structure to what they submit'”.

USA Today also makes the connection that this promotion came at a very interesting time after “the company shares plummeted more than 5% on Feb. 3 after the chain reported fourth-quarter 2014 earnings were hit slightly by higher food costs”.

Which bards will be named burrito-worthy? Here’s some of our favourites: