If there is one thing that is common to all the resources companies I’ve ever been involved with, it is that shareholders will periodically complain that Company X’s ASX announcements are just not up to scratch.
Top shareholder complaints refer to a lack of message clarity, that the message itself is not punchy enough and that far too much geoscience techno-babble remains in the text.
Experienced media companies can help in editing announcements. But in today’s market, listed explorers are more likely to adopt a DIY approach.
With that in mind, here are 10 ‘golden rules’ for writing effective ASX announcements – with due gratitude to an exploration veteran of some 40 years’ experience who wishes to remain anonymous.
His 10 Golden Rules to constructing an excellently written draft for brokers/investors and the media are as follows:
1. Less is more!
2. Keep the first half page simple – particularly the highlighted bullet points...
a. One thought per bullet point (remember most of the brokers are men – so will have difficulty with two concepts in one sentence!
b. No need to repeat in the bullet points what has already been stated in the announcement title.
c. Prioritise the bullet points – main one must be at the top.
d. It is a Company X release by definition – so there is no need to continually refer to Company X unless for emphasis.
e. Detail can be covered in the main body text – if anyone gets that far.
f. Concentrate on the main message – what major points do we want to leave the reader with.
3. The commodity should always be mentioned right up front. Not every reader will automatically know that the high-priority “Tarzan’s Armpit prospect” is actually a gold prospect, unless you remind them.
4. Omit unnecessary technical terms. With a few notable exceptions, the readers (who you are targeting) are not qualified geologists/mining engineers.
5. Geological maps and drill sections should be simplified (cartoonised). For example, a granodiorite or a tonalite is just granite for ASX release purposes.
6. Maps and sections must relate to all the important things in the text Not be inserted just because they look colourful.
7. Maps must have a scale bar Grid refs are not good enough.
8. Think font size: Text on maps and sections that requires an electron microscope to read is strictly not allowed.
9. Minimise the usage of other company names Unless it is a real advantage to include them.
10. All the requisite technical detail goes to the end. Including data tables, unless it is a real advantage to Company X to insert them earlier.
Allan Trench is a professor at Curtin Graduate School of Business and research professor (value and riisk) at the Centre for Exploration Targeting, University of Western Australia; a non-executive director of several resource sector companies; and the Perth representative for CRU Strategies, a division of independent metals and mining advisory CRU Group (firstname.lastname@example.org).