In Conversation With: Christoph Greitemann
In recent years, investor relations (IR) teams have witnessed a shift in how they present results on digital platforms. This change includes moving from lengthy documents to using social media, interactive annual reports on microsites, and content from top executives like the CEO or CFO to enhance result presentations. This shift is crucial because younger investors are increasingly engaging with corporate websites and other digital channels, making it vital to adapt to the new landscape
Deutsche Telekom’s “Investor Relations” landing page, showcasing some of their diverse content
Christoph Greitemann, Senior IR manager at Deutsche Telekom, spoke to us about the company’s excellent IR-based content, managing YouTube and other social media channels, and why it is important for IR teams to develop their communications for younger audiences.
CS: Could we have a profile of your investor base to start off with?
CG: We have 30% state ownership. Then there are 5% strategic shareholders that stem from a merger, and around 12% ETF or passive investment. So, about half of our shareholder base is active, and out of this active part one third are private shareholders. That means 17% are private shareholders in absolute terms and a third relative to the active base.
CS: Firstly, to begin with some of the excellent features housed in DT’s “Investor Relations” section. What is the process behind producing this content, for example CEO/CFO videos, as well as your successful social media presence?
CG: Our own IR-Channels (YouTube, Twitter and soon LinkedIn and Instagram) are managed by ourselves without agency support. We use it instead of a proprietary webcast provider. In addition, we align our activities closely with the accounts of DT corporate communication (LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) and DT top management (LinkedIn) for some messages. On the LinkedIn channels of top managers, there is a social media team in [the department of] corporate communication, which composes and coordinates the postings. But responses to comments on LinkedIn is done by board members themselves: When they comment on something or when they like something, they are active on their accounts.
CS: Just to expand a little on the presentation of your quarterly results on the website. They are presented with many value-adding features. Is there any insight you can give me into how you put this content together on the site, and the visual formatting you’ve chosen?
CG: We have got a one-stop shop per quarter, so one page where you find all documents and links for the quarter. This is in contrast to some “IR” pages, where you can see presentations in one place, and reports in another, and then you click through different pages in order to get the documents together from one quarter. Then there was the point of, “if I want to see the presentations of multiple quarters, then I have to go from one page to another page to another page”, and so we additionally provide a “Download” page where you can scroll down and go through multiple quarters and years.
CS: How have you managed to successfully integrate ESG information within the “Investor Relations” section?
CG: I've got a colleague who focuses on ESG and I am in touch with her after every quarterly presentation to say, “Is there anything that you could update?”. By now, we have our ESG in every quarterly presentation that we do. It is our procedure to have ESG in the quarterly presentation, and from that we then look at what we can update on the web page. It's interesting because that web page used to be focused on the past. We took the approach of “once the ESG report is out, then we put the information on”. Now, what I try to establish within DT is saying the website is not about reporting once a year. The website is to be up to date, all the time, and to provide real time information.
CS: How does this fit in with what your audience wants digitally? Are you noticing any trends at the moment for this investor-based audience group?
CG: That's an interesting point. Specifically, younger investors are on channels where we are not present yet with our own IR channels. So, for example, Instagram or TikTok. They view YouTube already as “nerdy”, saying that 10-minute videos are somewhat too long. That is the new reality we need to find answers for. And we see is that this is not only a retail thing, but those who now enter Asset Management as 22-year-olds, young professionals, they've got clear preferences.
This is a shift from IR’s long-standing focus on legalistic, dense documents. I'm expecting this focus on documents to be complemented with videos and social media formats. We of course still need to have those long-written formats, like the annual report or the internal report. Our thinking is based on the attention economy.
So, I expect formats to shift more to video and social media, which is often new territory for investor relations. My impression of the investor relations functions in general is, that people are rather conservative, so many are not really active on social media.
What’s interesting is I did some posts on LinkedIn, and there was a discussion among investors and an equity analyst. This is something which you normally do not see - they wouldn’t usually discuss in public, or exchange ideas. If you put the right content on the platform, then it is a powerful platform for exchange and inspiration. Social media is just massively underutilised by many IR teams and the point is that some IR managers say it is not relevant. The reason why IR say it’s not irrelevant is they just don't know how to do it. So, transformation in IR is necessary.
CS: It is easy to be stuck in the past in terms of IR provisions, with basic archives and a lack of “value-adding” features, such as those present on DT.
CG: DT is one of the very few companies who have an IR dedicated YouTube channel. Some do it over the corporate YouTube channel. It's only Alphabet, Netflix and Atlassian who have their own specific IR YouTube channel. And among this group of four, we are the only one to have configured the channel page truly for investors. You've got a header with the main points of Deutsche Telekom. We have a playlist of most recent videos or most relevant ones. We consolidate the videos from our subsidiary T-Mobile US. And it's so interesting because it's a super innovative platform and they've got the best player that you can imagine. We even save money by using it because there's no proprietary platform which you would pay money for, and we get a lot of traffic just from people who see it on YouTube and then click on it.
Interacting on social media and launching a public discourse requires someone to have profound knowledge on the topic. And you need to know the target group very well. You need then to pick up topics and back it up with relevant data and insights. This is work for the most profiled IR team members, not juniors.