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COVID-19: How Should Mexican Companies’ IR Teams React?

As we move into the full crisis mode, an increasing number of companies have put out press releases around COVID-19. (See some examples below, from Mexico and elsewhere). These range from the health and safety measures being taken to protect employees and customers, services and products to help those affected by Coronavirus crisis, to notification of store and plant closures, to the strategic and financial steps to shore up the balance sheet in an effort to reassure the market, to showing appropriate solidarity with the community in this difficult time.


Overall communicating in this period is complex. Companies need to navigate the different  demands of investors and bondholders (who want to see actions the company is taking to improve financial strength), customers (who want to know what services and products are available, changes in terms),  suppliers (will they be paid?), employees (job security, working conditions), and the media and government (who want companies to be supportive of the community.)


In the face of this, most companies begin by stressing their priority is the health and safety of employees, customers and community (all press releases we have seen express this). They have avoided providing financial projections (as the situation is moving fast), but when possible have sought to reassure stakeholders that they have the situation under control. They have in some cases, published summaries of relevant employee and customer announcements in the IR section. And since the financial situation is especially delicate, they have emphasized measures being taken to strengthen the balance sheet, and improve operating flexibility.


Coronavirus-related products and services. All companies want to be able to help, and generate revenues to pay their labor force. For those that have products or services in demand during the current environment (food and drink, food delivery, remote communication, credit facilities, medicines…),. See releases from Wal-Mart, Dominos, Alsea.


Closures. Companies that have been required to close stores or plants have tended to announce which plants and stores are functioning and not (ie, Elementia). Likewise, many companies that updated investors on their Business Continuity Plans, such as working remotely have done that (ie, Rotoplas).


Sanitation steps. Companies that deal with the end consumer on a day to day basis have emphasized their measures to combat the spread of germs. See press releases from Walmart, Uber, Target, Lyft, Alsea.


Coronavirus section in website. Many companies now have a dedicated Coronavirus section in the website (Bank of America, Lyft, Medica Sur, Target, Twitter). We think this is a good idea, as it allows you to update those interested without putting out numerous press releases all the time, and generating more uncertainty.


Financial resilience. Where appropriate, many companies are reassuring the market on their overall liquidity and ability to withstand the current situation.


Contributions to the community. If relevant, companies are highlighting any charitable measures to help out those most in need.


Sector specific measures.


Banks: focus on delayed mortgage collections, new mediums for accessing credits (especially to SMEs) and new interest rate policies on short and long-term loans


Healthcare: new testing kits, standard procedures.


Food: store to door delivery systems, special hours for elderly only shopping and priority shipping for essential goods.


Travel (Airlines, hotels…): Mostly, they have announced closures and reduction in routes.