NIRI National Sessions Miss the Mark on Disclosure

June 14, 2010

– by Michael Becker, SVP, Financial Product Strategy

Michael Becker

In my humble opinion, the 2010 NIRI National Conference was a tremendous success, albeit in one area.

The annual conference committee’s courage to tackle hot button issues like the SEC’s Regulation FD Interpretive Guidance is commendable.  However, in its zealousness, I believe attendees were over-served FD, often by ill-informed “experts” and biased parties.

Ill-informed experts and biased parties speaking at NIRI National? Why, yes.

Daniel Kinel of Harter Secrest & Emery LLP, in his session “Fair Disclosure and the Web,” stated that a six-minute delay between web-posting and an 8-K was “simultaneous enough.”  (As an aside, I approached Mr. Kinel and explained why six minutes at 4:00 pm ET is a wide gap — i.e., after-hours trading.  His response: “Good point.”)

How about James Moloney of Gibson, Dunn who believes leveraging notice-and-access news release disclosure for earnings can save an issuer $40 – 50K annually?  (Mr. Moloney, ever heard of a Metro distribution?  It’s only $210).  Mr. Moloney also discussed the newswire upload process, calling it an extra, cumbersome step.  That is a pretty myopic view coming from a person who is paid to protect his clients.  The extra step ensures that material news content is vetted, secure, error-free, properly formatted and disseminated to the markets in a ubiquitous manner.  My hunch: Mr. Moloney will be busy when issuers self-publish content via WYSIWYG tools with errors (spelling, formatting, etc.).

While the web is assuredly more important for issuer communications than ever before, I do not believe there has been a seachange since the late-2008 survey that found securities attorneys favor wire services over corporate web sites for disclosure of material news. Maybe the Moloneys of the world see the Reg. FD Interpretative Guidance issue as a way to increase billable hours? Furthermore, research has shown greater dissemination improves stock liquidity and lowers volatility while enhancing a firm’s visibility; it can even lower the cost of capital.

Finally, how about ThomsonReuters, who spent a pretty penny on its lunch session, just to tell issuers how disseminating to a handful of distribution points via its mechanism is best practice? (I liken it to telling my son to strive for a C because it’s passing.)

It’s one thing to discuss a topic openly in a transparent manner; it is entirely different when NIRI members are plied with inaccurate information over the course of multiple redundant sessions.  For a more accurate look at what NIRI members really feel constitutes proper disclosure, see Neil Hershberg’s recent entry, “Common Sense in Investor Relations.”

In closing, I am young, hungry and ambitious. There is no way I would hitch my wagon to an antiquated business model. Furthermore, I am a realist when it comes to the technology adoption curve and genuinely believe if/when the time comes that another model for material news distribution is better for issuer communications, Business Wire will be right there, doing what we have done for 50 years, evolving to suit the needs of our customers.

Until then, take a step back, look past the self-interested zealots and see the forest for the trees; traditional newswire services today provide the single best method for satisfying Regulation FD disclosure. PR Newswire’s long-time consultant Mark Hynes states it best: “If I believed that they were making buggy whips, I wouldn’t be there.”


International Communicators Hungry for Communications Technology… and Cake

June 14, 2010

– by Ibrey Woodall, VP, Web Communications Services

Ibrey Woodall

The IABC World Conference took place in Toronto, Canada June 6-9, 2010. It was a perfect opportunity for Business Wire to announce the launch of our NewsHQ online newsroom and InvestorHQ investor center services.

So many attendees from all over the country were hungry to learn about communications technology and how it integrates with social media. This was evidenced by the many sessions referring to the subject matter, including “How to measure the ROI of your social media efforts” by Katie Delahaye Paine of KDPaine & Partners, “Integrating multimedia into your social media campaign” by Donna Papacosta of Trafalgar Communications, and my own Sunday session “Online newsrooms with social media integration.”

Other tracks included employee communications, global trends, change management, communication leadership, and strategy and counsel. You can see more of the program by visiting http://www.iabc.com/wc/program.htm. You can also search on the Twitter hash tag #iabc10 to get an idea of the conversations happening during the conference. From this same feed, I found a blog about my session entitled “Online newsrooms with social media highlights” by attendee Kristen Sukalac or Prospero Communications.

I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the opening general session. A team of musicians called Drum Café (http://www.drumcafe) showed everyone how to listen and play to the same beat using African drums. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many drums in one place. Drum Café has performed for Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, the Queen of England, Tony Blair and George W. Bush, and they certainly didn’t fail to show a good time to IABC attendees.

IABC 40th Anniversary Cake

And of course, Guy Kawasaki, author of nine books, provided a very comfortable and enjoyable closing general session on “The Art of Innovation.”

I would be remiss if I did not mention that this year was the 40th anniversary of IABC, a feat that every organization should be fortunate enough to celebrate. In rolled an extremely large cake that took about six chefs to pick up and place on the table. I personally enjoyed the sigh of relief and self-congratulations on each chef’s face once the cake was successfully transferred.

This was my first IABC conference. It was refreshing, professionally done and held many possibilities for both attendee and exhibitor. Although some may not be there yet, several attendees were well aware of the need to integrate social media and search engine optimization into their press release distribution. Yes, even the ones who work in the government industry.


Why Add Links to your Press Releases? Ask Nieman Journalism Lab

June 11, 2010

 

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President, New Media

Still need convincing that adding hyperlinks to your press releases is a good idea?  Look no further than The Nieman Journalism Lab’s recent series on hyperlinking web content.

The Lab, a nonprofit based at Harvard which attempts to “help journalism figure out its future in an Internet age,” explores everything from why links are a good thing to how major journalism institutions are utilizing them–or not.  These conflicting attitudes seem to mirror those of the PR profession.  

When reading the series, if you substitute the words “public relations ” for “online journalism,” and “press release” for “storytelling,” you have an excellent tutorial on the wiles and ways of hyperlinking.    This should be required reading, folks.

Here’s the series with LINKS:

How News Orgs are using links–or not

How news orgs talk about links–what their policies and conflicts are.

Four journalistic purposes of the noble hyperlink

If you’re wondering why we’re so bent on encouraging the use of hyperlinks, it’s because it’s in your interest and ours to have successful press releases.  Since our recent research suggests only 13.5% of you put links in your press releases, we’re urging those of you who don’t link to please get busy.


Upcoming Business Wire Events – June 11 Edition

June 11, 2010

Upcoming Business Wire Events

Join Business Wire experts in your area for media breakfasts, panel discussions and other insightful events. We bring local media members and industry thought leaders to your market to discuss today’s most relevant topics, from writing for SEO to marketing with social media. Best of all, Business Wire events are usually free of charge. Check out some of our upcoming events in your area:

Adding Video to Maximize Your Reach, Exposure & Pick-Up

Hosted by Business Wire Charlotte [Durham Event]

Join Business Wire in Durham for lunch and a panel discussion on using video to maximize your marketing communication efforts. Learn how integrating video into your marketing and public relations plans can enhance your SEO reach and provide real results. Panelists include: Valerie Aguirre, CBC New Media Group; Rachel Toole, MEDIAmobz; and Scott Sharpe, The News & Observer. This event is free for all attendees.

Wednesday, June 16 at 11:30 a.m. ET
Sheraton Imperial Hotel
4700 Emperor Blvd., Durham, NC 27703
To register: Please RSVP to Angela Haysworth at 704-347-1590 or email angela.hayworth@businesswire.com

Adding Video to Maximize Your Reach, Exposure & Pick-Up

Hosted by Business Wire Charlotte [Charlotte Event]

Join Business Wire Charlotte for breakfast and a panel discussion on using video to maximize your marketing communication efforts. Learn how integrating video into your marketing and public relations plans can enhance your SEO reach and provide real results. Panelists include: Joe Carleo, Advanced Language & Media Services; Corrie Harding, WCNC-TV; Jason Silverstein, ACBJ/Bizjournals.com; and Rachel Toole, MEDIAmobz. This event is free for all attendees.

Thursday, June 17 at 7:30 a.m. ET
Maggiano’s
4400 Sharon Rd., Charlotte, NC 28211
To register: Please RSVP to Angela Haysworth at 704-347-1590 or email angela.hayworth@businesswire.com

Adding Video to Maximize Your Reach, Exposure & Pick-Up

Hosted by Business Wire Florida

Looking for new ways to reach and engage your audience?  Would you like to add value to your news & generate interest for your campaigns? Join us as our experts discuss the power of video & the benefits of including a visual element to your press releases. Speakers include Rachel Toole, Sales & Marketing Consultant for MEDIAMobz, Rick Christie, Breaking News Editor for the Palm Beach Post and Doug Perry, Executive Producer for Digital Content for WPBF-TV. This event is free for all attendees.

Tuesday, June 22 at 11:30 a.m. ET
JM Family Enterprises, Inc.
111 Jim Moran Blvd., Deerfield Beach, FL 33442
To register: Please RSVP to Claudia Perez-Bonilla at 954-474-8833 or email claudia.perez@businesswire.com

For more upcoming local Business Wire events or to see what’s coming up in our award-winning webinar series, visit http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/business-wire-events.

Follow Business Wire events on Twitter! Hash tag #bwevents


Minneapolis Media Give Tips for Communications Professionals

June 10, 2010

by Paul J.F. Bowman, Editor, Business Wire Minneapolis

On May 27th, Business Wire Minneapolis hosted a Meet the Media breakfast at the Graves 601 Hotel, across the street from our Minneapolis office. Attendees included Business Wire clients and cohorts of all backgrounds.

Our panel included employees from a wide variety of local media points, including print, online, TV and radio. The panel, which offered many tips on pitching to local writers and reaffirmed the necessity of announcing company news in an effective manner, included:

by Business Wire Minneapolis Editor Paul J.F. Bowman

One of the panel’s hot suggested topics/trends is company volunteerism (i.e. companies offering paid employee time for volunteering during the 40-hour work week). On the other hand, one editor’s staff is “greened-out.” To them, corporate social responsibility articles are cliché and overused in today’s media.

Another major trend is the vanishing of embargoed copy. The press agreed that it is very difficult to sit on a hot lead for a story; another journalist might be willing to forego the embargo just to claim the scoop. The only exception is study or research: reporters appreciate receiving this copy in advance so there is time to analyze and interpret the data.

Some key points about media in general:

  • Most general rules about media still apply regarding pitching, targeting, and writing.
  • Print newspapers are not all dying; some have maintained their growth despite advances of Internet media.
  • Details, details! The more specifics you are able to provide, the better the story. For example:
    • quotes from those involved to help lengthen and “flesh out” the article
    • full names and titles of those involved (businesses/contractors, architects, lawyers)
    • specific locations (headquarters, where contract was signed, new facilities)
    • use experts for analysis within the content—make sure you provide titles, applicable degrees, etc.
  • Make sure your contacts on the release:
    • are primary experts on the release content.
    • are available 24 hours a day. If only one is, specify who is the after-hours contact.
    • are prepared to serve as ambassadors between the company and the public.

Read the rest of this entry »


Interview with Emilio Garcia-Ruiz of The Washington Post

June 9, 2010

– by Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/DC

I recently met with Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, editor for the Local section of The Washington Post, to talk about newsgathering trends and press release distribution.  Emilio has extensive knowledge of these topics, with more than 25 years of experience in the newspaper industry and a journalism degree from the University of Maryland.

Emilio Garcia-Ruiz

Prior to being named the Local Editor last year, Emilio served as Sports Editor of The Washington Post and the St. Paul Pioneer Press, where he directed an investigative series that uncovered academic fraud at the University of Minnesota and won reporter George Dohrmann the 2000 Pulitzer for beat reporting.  In addition, Emilio has worked for other top 100 dailies including the Orange County Register and the Los Angeles Times.

When asked about social media in relation to news gathering, Emilio said that the Post is using these tools to look for crowdsourcing ideas.  He mentioned Twitter being especially helpful for content during the big snowstorms in Washington this past winter.  Social networking tools have enabled journalists to engage in conversation with their readers.  They also allow reporters to follow organizations they cover for breaking news and announcements.  Although social media has become a major part of the newsgathering process, press releases still play a role.  The issue, however, is how to make your release stand out.

During our meeting, which lasted about an hour and a half, Emilio received 10 press releases via e-mail – all of which were irrelevant to the Local section.  “If you’re going to send someone a press release, make sure you have the right contact, because if not they’re just going to delete it.  The best press releases are hyper-targeted to what we do.”

With the number of public relations practitioners outweighing the number of reporters, it’s more important than ever to think like a journalist when writing your release.  According to Emilio, “Many of the problems could be alleviated with some basic newspaper fundamentals.  Including who, what, where, when, how in the first paragraph.  That would be nice.  Get to your point quickly instead of writing in a convoluted way.  Just like a story, if a press release doesn’t work at the top, then you’re not going to continue reading.”

Above all, practitioners should remember that public relations is about relationships.  “The best chance to get to me is with a relationship,” Emilio added.  “My time is limited and when your time is limited, you deal with the people you know.”



OMG, AP’s New Stylebook Has a Social Media Section!

June 8, 2010

The new AP Stylebook, released on 6/2/10, has six pages of social media guidelines.  Why should journalists or press release crafters care?  Although standardizing the spelling of “website” might be welcome news (at least to those of us who use this term frequently), surely we all know what LOL means?

According to Sally Jacobsen, one of three AP Stylebook editors, “although many people are familiar with these abbreviations, they may not know how to use them correctly in a news story” (as noted in a PoynterOnline story about the guidelines.)

In fact, AP style and what the stylebook says matters enough that the “website” change back in April was a trending topic on Twitter.  (And yes, “trending” is included in the stylebook as an accepted verb, as is “crowdsourcing.”)

Meanwhile, AP is using social media to solicit feedback about the Stylebook.  Quotes the Poynter story:  (An @APStylebook tweet from last weekend: “We love hearing Stylebook Online described as ‘freaking awesome,’ even if that phrase isn’t in the Stylebook.”)

Business Wire has always used the AP Stylebook to guide our editors in formatting clients’ press releases, ensuring that your news always adheres to the latest standards. And journalists and writers, who appreciate not having to do rewrites, surely appreciate it!


Common Sense in Investor Relations

June 4, 2010

by Neil Hershberg, Senior Vice President, Global Media for Business Wire

Neil Hershberg, SVP - Global Media

“The website-only minimum is a weak minimum . . . It’s like the NCAA requiring a 2.0 GPA. Any student should have to do more than the minimum.” –NIRI Member

It is refreshing — and reassuring — to see that common sense and reason still prevail in the investor relations industry.

The National Investor Relations Institute, the prestigious international association of IR professionals, recently surveyed its most senior members to gauge the pragmatic impact of the SEC’s “Interpretive Guidance Release on Web-Based Disclosure” [August 2008] on current news distribution practices.

The Guidance Release ranks as one of the most controversial in the SEC’s history; its lack of clarity has created considerable confusion within the IR community.

Self-styled disclosure “experts,” many masking their own commercial interests in the debate, aggressively jumped into the fray, seeking to advance their own business prospects while giving the appearance of detached observers. Fortunately, real-world transparency kicked in as the industry saw right through their vacuous arguments.

The NIRI membership survey, independent, comprehensive and authoritative, should finally settle the issue as to how the industry itself defines disclosure “best practices.”  The good news is that the overwhelming majority of respondents continue to engage in disclosure activities that serve the best interests – and information needs – of ALL market participants. The real winners here are investors as a whole, who continue to have broad and equivalent access to issuer information that may influence their investment decisions.

Among the survey’s key findings:

  • Only seven percent of respondents have made changes to their disclosure practices as a result of the SEC’s Guidance, generally adding new distribution channels. In fact, a higher percentage of respondents today are relying on paid press release services as a primary disclosure vehicle than before the SEC issued its Guidance Release. The broadly disseminated press release lives – because it works.
  • The most common reason cited for not making any changes to their current practices is because there is no compelling reason to do so. Other key drivers in the decision to retain the status quo are the desire for exposure, the greatest transparency possible, and legal opinion.
  • Many respondents view additional communications channels as supplemental to traditional channels, rather than replacements for them.
  • The use of corporate web sites for information dissemination at this time is almost entirely driven by business considerations rather than regulatory ones.
  • When asked to rank the factors that influence their decision to issue a press release versus an alternative channel, respondents ranked, on average, materiality as the most important factor, and cost as the least.

(NIRI members can view the full survey results here.)

We thank NIRI for its thoughtful, real-world guidance re: the SEC’s Interpretive Release, and for its invaluable insights on how its members have responded in terms of their own business practices.

Above all, we applaud the investor relations industry for continuing to recognize the value that a broadly disseminated press release, made available to ALL market participants simultaneously and in real-time, means in terms of full and fair disclosure. Its reassuring to know that the investor relations industry remains committed to the principles of its core mission.

We wish NIRI success at its annual meeting in San Diego June 6 -9.  There probably has never been a more exciting time to be in the investor relations industry.

UPDATE:  Mark Hynes has some additional thoughts on this topic at his own blog, in a great entry, “Why Would an IRO Limit News Dissemination?”


Use Google Trends to Find the Best Time to Send Your Press Release

June 3, 2010


It’s the age old question.  As long as companies and PR practitioners have been sending releases, everyone has wanted to know when is the best time to send my release? In fact, one of our most popular blog posts took this question on three years ago.

Everyone still wants to know because there is really no true right answer.  Hindsight is 20/20 and it’s easy to research the past and give an armchair opinion, but until Google starts mining data directly from our minds (Google Thoughts anyone?) predicting the future will continue to be a difficult endeavor.  However, with the power of free tools and site search it’s become relatively easy to get a read on the present and measure short term opportunities.

Here’s my basic premise: using tools like Google Trends and site search on the major press release distribution sites like Business Wire to gauge the amount of competition, you can increase your chances of catching a wave and contributing to a hot story.

Sometimes the trends are obvious.  You can tell from this chart that Father’s Day trends upwards as the holiday approaches (it’s June 20th in the US this year).

Searching headlines on Business Wire shows only a handful of Father’s Day related headlines so far in May and June.  To me, this looks like a great opportunity for interesting Father’s Day stories to get the jump on the trend.  If I were creating such a story, it might be a good idea to get it out now or keep watching the wires and distribute it just as things start to pick up.

Read the rest of this entry »


Silicon Valley Marcom Professionals on Using Multimedia in Marketing & Lead Generation

June 3, 2010

On Tuesday May 11th, Business Wire Silicon Valley partnered with MEDIAmobz and VisibleGains for a special morning event at the TechMart Networking Meeting Center geared toward marketing and communications professionals looking for innovative ways to engage and convert leads. More than 100 PR and IR professionals attended the panel, which was moderatored by Joel Tesch, Regional Vice President, Northern California and Pacific Northwest, Business Wire. Other panelists included:

  • Linda Crowe, Marketing Consultant, Former Group Manager, Media & Production, Sun Microsystems
  • Dos Dosanjh, WW Customer Solutions Manager, Marketing, Cisco Digital Media Creative Services, Cisco
  • Jay Durgan, Head of Business Development, MEDIAMobz
  • Cliff Pollan, Co-Founder & CEO, VisibleGains
  • Mark Rotblat, VP, Business Development, Tube Mogul

MEDIAMobz was on hand & created a terrific video recap for the event:


Topics discussed included:

  • Specific examples of how companies have integrated video into their marketing, public relations and social media programs and the “before and after” results of those efforts.
  • Tips and tricks on creating simple, but engaging video for lead generation (and mistakes to avoid).
  • Practical advice for optimizing video and press releases for search.
  • How video provides added context to enhance press releases & the effectiveness of your message.

Having trouble accessing the video? Check out the post on the MEDIAMobz blog.

Local Business Wire offices host dozens of events each year on PR, IR, SEO & media topics.  Check out the Business Wire Events page to find upcoming events in your area.

Follow Business Wire events on Twitter! Hash tag #bwevents


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