Earnings Checklist: Best Practices For Preparing Your Earnings Release

The quarterly earnings release is a high-visibility opportunity to tell your company’s story. As a concrete, numbers-driven summary of the company’s performance, it’s sure to garner attention from investors and media. In turn, that attention affects stock price, often leads to earned media coverage and can affect public perception of your company.

Those high stakes bring high pressure for corporate communications professionals. Even before distribution, there’s a lot to manage. You’ll need to coordinate with stakeholders in both IR and PR to gather information, collaborate on how best to present your news, and shape the resulting conversation.

A small mistake, misstatement, or missing piece of information can result in negative media attention or, critically, an adverse impact on stock trading. So, be sure to confirm with those involved that you have all of the required elements before you hit send.

Preparing Your Earnings Release

While you’re wrangling the data and crafting your message, don’t forget to take a few minutes to check off the necessities. Doing so will ensure you meet disclosure requirements and make your release easy for your audiences to understand.

  • Check quarter-to-quarter references: Many companies use a template to build the webcast announcement and earnings release. Make sure you’ve changed all quarter and year-end references to the current ones.

  • Include stock ticker (EXCHANGE: Symbol): ideally in the first sentence of the first paragraph, for parsing by financial portals.

  • Be SEO smart with headlines: Headlines should include the company’s name and state the purpose of the release, keeping it under 120 characters and as acronym-free as possible. Don’t repeat headlines or use very similar copy quarter after quarter, year after year.

    For example, to ensure your earnings release is SEO-friendly, consider re-writing the headline “ABC Technologies – Q1 Results” as “ABC Technologies Announces its Results for its First Quarter of Fiscal Year 2017.”

  • Highlight the main data points: Net Income, Revenue, Earnings Per Share, etc. Highlight the most sought-after numbers early on in your headline, subheadline and/or initial paragraphs. Use bullets or bolded headings to organize the data points in eye-catching formats.

  • Indicate reporting currency: Earnings release information is often circulated globally and unless otherwise stated, the reporting currency reverts to US dollars. Include a reference to reporting currency at the top of the release as well as at the top of financial tables and charts throughout.

  • State the Accounting Standard (IFRS, GAAP and/or non-GAAP): When including financial tables, include a note on the accounting standard used so investors (and potential investors!) understand your company’s story.

  • Gather executive quotes: This is your chance to put colour and context around the numbers. Plus, reporters often use direct quotes from the press release in their initial coverage. Place those quotes in an easily accessible location to make their job easier and increase your chances of earning media pick-up from your release.

  • Include all relevant accounting tables, comparing year-to-year and/or quarter-to-quarter: Your tabular data should be in a consistent order each quarter so readers know where to find the information they need.

    Make your readers’ job easy by including all relevant financial data right within your release. Don’t make them go hunting for it by having to click on links or download additional files.

  • Add supplemental data: Additional references like investor presentations and graphics can be included in the full release or linked back to the company website to drive traffic there.

  • Spell out conference call dial-in information: Ensure readers have the date and time upfront, and know how to join the call where company executives will further break down your quarterly performance.

  • Include media contact for follow-up questions: Media tend to prefer reaching out by phone rather than by email, especially for time-sensitive news like earnings.

Now that your release is ready, it’s time to share it simultaneously with the media, investors and public. The most efficient and effective way to do that is through wire distribution. CNW is the only company commercially endorsed by Toronto Stock Exchange for news release and webcast services.

Submitting Your Earnings Release over the Wire:

  1. Prepare and send editable files to your wire service. These should be in Word or Excel file formats. This allows editors to format your content for accurate distribution.

  2. Pick your distribution. Make sure you’re sending to a full “wire” newsline that includes financial journalists as well as online points. Choose a distribution strategy that satisfies your company’s disclosure policy.

  3. Use CNW’s Online Member Centre. The Online Member Centre is the fastest, most secure and accurate way to submit, manage and distribute news release copy and multimedia content.

  4. Give yourself – and your wire service – enough time. Select a distribution time during the upload process, or let editors know when you plan to distribute. Be sure to build in time for your own internal review, too.

  5. Request a proof copy for review. Gather stakeholders to review the earnings proof copy in advance of approval/distribution, as a final confirmation before delivery.

  6. Give your wire provider the go-ahead, with clear timing instructions. You can schedule your release in the Online Member Centre.

  7. Coordinate your 8-K and SEDAR filings to be simultaneous with your release.

By checking off each of these steps in advance of the distribution of your earnings release, you’ll ensure your audiences are receiving the full story, accurately and on time.

Ready to share your news with the world?