Business Wire – Our “Raison D’etre”

July 14, 2010

by Cathy Baron Tamraz, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Business Wire

Cathy Baron Tamraz

BW Chairman & CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz

SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro, in prepared remarks to the Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals last Friday, stated the SEC is intent on ensuring that all investors have access to a highly complex and technologically sophisticated trading market.

We at Business Wire could not agree more — that’s been OUR intent as well for the past 50 years — to support and enhance full and fair disclosure, via our own patented Internet-based news delivery platform that ensures that material news is available to all market participants in an easily accessible and digestible format.

With all the hoopla about new newswire models, I thought it might be useful to provide some perspective on why we invented our business model and, further, the myriad and increasing benefits we provide to the investor relations and public relations communities.  There are two primary reasons companies use a commercial newswire: DISCLOSURE and DISTRIBUTION.  While the delivery mechanisms have radically transformed (from messenger, to mail, to dictate, to fax, to FM sideband, to satellite, to internet, mobile and more), the goals are everlasting — transparency and eyeballs.

It’s significant to note that Business Wire has been on the bleeding edge of this technological change.  In fact, most of the newswire technology changes these past 50 years have been driven by our company (via our proprietary internet patents and many other firsts in the industry). Having been born in the SF Bay Area, we live and breathe innovation and technology; it’s simply what we do and how we view our business model — everchanging and everlasting.

THE MANTRA:

Companies use Business Wire to both satisfy their regulatory requirements AND get the word out quickly and simultaneously to all market participants.  When you use Business Wire, you are assured of satisfying disclosure and getting the broadest distribution possible via our proprietary, secure network.  The benefit of ubiquitous distribution is that anyone interested has the opportunity to: buy a product, buy/sell a stock, attend an event, analyze a company, report on a story, blog, tweet, etc.

When your news is on Business Wire, everyone can access it via their choice of platform — and, most importantly, rely on the veracity of the information.

And therein lies the power of our brand — TRUST.

AT THE CORE:

Disclosure:

Material news is clearly a company’s most important news; simple logic suggests that it deserves the broadest possible distribution, maximum visibility, an authoritative, credible editorial environment and a permanent, easily accessible archive for future reference.  Business Wire has always been a convenient, effective and cost-efficient way to accomplish each of these critical objectives.

Business Wire is also a strong proponent of the spirit and intent of the SEC’s Regulation FD: full and fair disclosure means that all market participants have simultaneous and real-time access to corporate news that may influence their investment decisions.  The integrity of our financial marketplace is predicated on the principle of fairness and transparency; and that’s our sweet spot.

Business Wire’s proprietary NX platform (awarded U.S. and Canadian patents, and patent-pending in Europe) provides for equal access by institutional and individual investors.  We have been sanctioned as a recognized regulatory disclosure service in multiple international jurisdictions; as such our network security, redundant technical systems and operational procedures are audited annually by the world’s leading accounting firms to confirm Business Wire’s strict and continued compliance with rigorous approval criteria.  Simply put, it’s the best system out there — and built in-house, too.

With nearly 200 editors in 21 newsrooms worldwide, we authenticate and validate our members, vet copy for accuracy and legitimacy and catch countless client errors.  The coding, keywords and meta-tagging (XHTML) that we add to each release are critically important in how copy is processed by advanced search engines, enterprise IT systems, algo-traders and databases. While much of this behind-the-scenes process is invisible to issuers and investors, it is absolutely critical to the proper parsing and distribution of information given today’s highly intricate IT network architecture.

Lastly, we won’t outsource disclosure.  It’s way too complex to leave to someone else or put on auto-pilot.

Distribution:

The other major reason clients use a newswire is distribution; there is no better way to get your message out than Business Wire.  We have the most expansive global reach in the industry, capitalizing on strategic relationships with scores of national and international news agencies, major web portals, aggregators and, of course, our own robust and highly viewed website.

Most recently, we’ve leveraged our reach to include the mobile apps of many of our news agency partners, including Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, Canwest and more.  Business Wire provides anywhere, anytime, up-to-the-minute access in multiple languages via a choice of mobile platforms.  This is just another example of how we have embraced the latest technologies to address the shifting work habits of the on-the-go professional and retail investor — and to make information easily available to all market participants.

Business Wire has also integrated social media and search engine optimization into every distribution, exponentially heightening the online profile of each release.  Our advanced metrics provide clients with valuable statistical usage data and online posting reports.  Yes, it really is all about pickup; the more eyeballs, the more pickup — which is the start of the engagement process.  In our business, less is definitely not more.

We live by the Warren Buffett quote: Price is what you pay, value is what you get.  Our mantra is to continually increase the value we provide for our members.  As we approach our 50th anniversary, our motivation and commitment is to continue to be the best that we can be.  Our passion is to be the industry’s technology leader, and to offer the most innovative and enterprising products and services.  And we are equally passionate about our clients, who have trusted us with their important news for nearly a half-century.  Our goal is to continue to exceed their expectations.

While Business Wire has continuously evolved with bleeding edge technology, the technology exists to build upon our core business principles: to always provide the gold standard in disclosure and global news dissemination.

Stay tuned……the best is yet to come.


White Paper on The State of the Press Release Offers Tips for Maximizing their Success

July 13, 2010

 

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President, New Media

As  a company that makes its living from press releases, we don’t pretend to be objective about their relevance and importance.  That said, we are REALLY TIRED of inflammatory and inaccurate headlines pronouncing the press release dead.   To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of (its) death have been greatly exaggerated.

We’re not alone in our view that the press release is alive and well.  And the data backs us up.

Here’s some facts from our recent white paper on the subject:

  • Just at Business Wire, we issue an average 1,000 press releases each work day (not that many on Saturdays and Sundays).
  • One study suggests 1.7 BILLION press releases are sent out via email each year.  That doesn’t include the millions sent on paid and unpaid services like Business Wire.
  • A decade ago, a press release would sit at the altar of journalists, hoping to be “picked up,” rewritten and published.  Today, it’s likely to skip gatekeepers altogether and jump straight to the screens of consumers. 
  • A recent survey suggested 92% of journalists get their ideas from press releases.

For more info and insights on the State of the Press Release, and tips on how to maximize their success, please check out our White Paper:  The State of the Press Release.   We invite you back here to share your comments. 

We look forward to hearing from you.

 


XBRL Update: July 2010

July 12, 2010

On July 8th, the SEC deployed updates to its official XBRL rendering engine (“Viewer” and “Previewer”) to address rendering issues for footnotes tagged at a detailed level. Below, learn more about this development.

Q2 2010 is the first quarter many Large Accelerated filers will begin filing footnotes tagged at a detailed level along with their face financial statements.  Unfortunately, preliminary rendering results with the old Viewer were not very promising. For example, our testing showed the following rendering errors for information tagged at the detailed level (to name a few):

  • Certain segment reporting information and dimension members did not render
  • Notes tagged at a detailed level with the words “Cash” or “Equity” in the group title did not render
  • Unrelated monetary elements, abstracts, data and time periods rendered repeatedly in multiple different notes, which lead to misleading information and made reviewing virtually impossible
  • Decimals and currencies did not render appropriately

To facilitate the first wave of XBRL filings with detailed level information, the SEC enhanced its rendering engine to eliminate certain rendering errors and issues.

What does this mean to my company?
The SEC’s enhanced Viewer fixes many “bugs” and minor rendering issues for both year one and year two requirements. Significant fixes primarily relate to:

  • Improved handling of mixed data types (units and decimals) within the same report.  The Viewer can now display different units of measure in each group
  • Updates to level iv detail tagged rendering to ensure complete display of all tagged data and improved rendering of column headings
  • Allows for the display of currency symbols to ensure currency symbols are not displayed in the rendering for non-monetary amounts
  • Improvements made to display non U.S. Dollar and other symbols
  • Enhancements to Statement of Stockholders’ Equity rendering and detailed reports to eliminate duplicated ending balances

However, one issue that is not fixed relates to the 2009 Commitments and Contingencies element.  Accordingly, we will continue to use the SEC prescribed workaround for this line item, where applicable.  Business Wire is already updating the source code on our rendering tool and we expect to have it running with the enhancements shortly.

Finally, please keep in mind that although the SEC’s Viewer has been updated, differences between the HTML and XBRL filings will continue to exist.  Potential rendering differences expected for Level iv detailed tagging include:

  • Labels in the same group may not exactly match the expected footnote labels
  • Narratives and tables may be combined or split up to improve rendering and review

Business Wire is more than happy to review with you rendering changes and differences that apply specifically to your filing.

Have any XBRL questions or concerns?  Simply contact us at XBRL@BusinessWire.com.


PR Peeps Poll: What’s Your Biggest Digital Pet Peeve? Almost 40% said “All of the Above”

July 8, 2010

 

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President, New Media 

When it comes to online manners,  we’re an increasingly rowdy bunch.   That’s the takeaway from this month’s PR Peeps Poll, which asked professional communicators to weigh in on their biggest digital pet peeve.  

Top vote-getter?  Almost 40% said  “all of the above.”  Details, below.

 

PR Peeps Poll  What’s your biggest digital pet peeve?

57, or 24%–Inappropriate cellphone use

40, or 17%–Blue Tooth user who makes us think he’s talking to us

14, or 6%–Profanity and crassness in new media settings

32, or 14%–Texting while I’m presenting

91, or 39%–All of the above.

Six PR Peeps couldn’t resist adding their own digital don’ts–from bad grammar in emails and loud talkers to ALL CAPS MESSAGES (are you annoyed yet?) and the “complete lack of civility as we knew it.”

The poll coincided with our “Etiquette in the Digital Age” webinar presented by the ever proper Anna Post of the Emily Post Institute.    Apparently PR people are right in line with mass America, as Anna cited a survey that states 69% of Americans feel we are more rude  today than we were several decades ago.  Check out the video recap if you’re interested.   Please.

To those who participated, thank you–-and how about helping with our next PR Peeps Poll:  When’s the best time to send a press release?  Please let us know. 

234 respondents via Twitter and Business Wire webinar polls. Poll conducted June 1 – July 5, 2010


Looking to Target Political Media? Tips from Four Political Journalists

July 6, 2010

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

If you’re interested in politics, you may recognize the following names: Aaron Blake, Keith Koffler, Erin McPike and Shira Toeplitz.  These four reporters have worked for some of the top political media outlets in the country including POLITICO, National Journal, Roll Call and The Hill.

Despite covering one of the most fast-paced beats in journalism, Aaron, Keith, Erin and Shira took the time to share their views on public relations practices and provide helpful tips on how to pitch political media.

Keith Koffler

Keith Koffler

Keith Koffler is a veteran White House reporter who writes WhiteHouseDossier.com, an independent blog focusing on President Obama and his administration.  In addition to his experience covering the White House, he has also reported on Congress and Washington’s lobbyists at CongressDaily, the National Journal magazine and Roll Call.

When it comes to writing a release, don’t overlook the headline.  “The headline is important because it grabs your attention,” Keith said.  “Pump up your headline.  Make it new, unique or clever.”  In general, don’t be afraid to have a sense of humor.  Avoid using uniform templates and write a release that is enjoyable to read.

Aaron Blake

Aaron Blake is a political blogger for The Washington Post’s PostPolitics.com, which launched back in April.  Prior to joining the Post, he covered campaigns at The Hill newspaper and the Washington bureau of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Aaron talked about the importance of using the inverted pyramid method when writing a press release.  “Get to the point and show why I should care, but don’t provide too much information right away,” he said.  Draw the reader in with a short first paragraph with the most newsworthy information at the top of the release.  Continue to provide material in order of diminishing importance.

Shira Toeplitz

Shira Toeplitz is a national political reporter with POLITICO, the nation’s premiere online news outlet for politics.  Prior to her work at POLITICO, she covered campaigns for Roll Call, as well as presidential and state campaigns for National Journal’s “The Hotline,” a political tip sheet for Capitol insiders.

Shira added to Aaron’s point advising public relations practitioners to “put all of the relevant public figures as high as possible in the release.”  She also recommends writing a release that is relevant to the news of the hour as political journalism is extremely fast paced.  “If your issue is a hot topic currently on the campaign trail or on Capitol Hill, I will be more inclined to cover it in the context of the story I am writing,” she said.

Erin McPike

Erin McPike

Erin McPike covers Senate and House races at CongressDaily.  She also served as National Journal’s lead reporter for “Conventional Nightly” in 2008.  Before joining CongressDaily in 2008, she covered Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign on the road for NBC News.

Erin also talked about how to create content that would appeal to political reporters.  The release does not necessarily have to be about political issues, but can also discuss a constituency that is important to political figures — for example, a specific demographic group that politicians are trying to appeal to.  “Something that will move a coalition of people in one direction or the other may be of interest since politicians make maneuvers based on what their base is doing,” she said.  “The best releases also have good numbers, measurable information and concrete facts.”  This content is more likely than a lengthy quote to get picked up in a story.


Adding Video to Maximize Your Reach and Exposure

July 6, 2010

- by Claudia Perez-Bonilla, Client Services Representative, Business Wire/Florida

On June 22nd, Business Wire Florida media luncheon attendees were able to partake in a lively discussion with video experts and marketing, PR and corporate communications professionals on the benefits of adding video to press releases to gain visibility and exposure.

Florida Media Luncheon Panelists

L-R: Rick Christie, Doug Perry, Pilar Portela, Rachel Toole

Hosted by JM Family Enterprises Inc., and moderated by Business Wire Media Relations Supervisor Pilar Portela, the panelists were:

  • Rick Christie, Breaking News Editor, The Palm Beach Post
  • Doug Perry, Executive Producer for Digital Content, WPBF-TV
  • Rachel Toole, Sales & Marketing Manager, MEDIAmobz

With the topic more timely than ever — video press releases having a 300% message retention rate and 500% more views than text-only releases — our panelists discussed video trends, tips on how to get started using video and how to make the best use of your FLIP camera.

Trends show an upswing in the use of video not only for traditional press releases, but also to promote:

  • Upcoming events
  • Testimonials
  • New Product Launches
  • Company Profiles

Rick Christie of The Palm Beach Post noted the “3 must-haves” for a successful video campaign.  The clip must be:

  1. Interesting
  2. Relevant
  3. Important

He also advises to go to a media point’s Facebook/YouTube page or follow them on Twitter to get an idea of the type of video they prefer and are most likely to use.

When asked for tips on creating video, all the panelists agreed:

  • Target an audience/know your demographics.
  • The video must have a message/tell a story.
  • Keep it brief (2 minutes is optimal).
  • Keep it real.
  • Don’t make it purely product based advertising.

MEDIAmobz Sales & Marketing Manager Rachel Toole added further to the discussion by noting that using video is:

  • Cost Effective:  the footage/material can be repurposed.
  • Improves SEO:  video is more prevalent in search engine results (i.e.  Google).
  • Good for increasing your ROI.
  • Visually engaging.

Doug Perry of WPBF-TV shared how their newsroom is a “Next Generation” newsroom. As part of a Hearst Television Inc. initiative, news reporters were outfitted with Blackberrys that can shoot video, and laptops that can live stream.  Doug advised that when including video for media usage:

  1. Content is critical.
  2. Give users a reason to click on the URL.  Don’t simply state “click here.”
  3. When shooting video, zoom with your feet.  Get close to the action.
Janice Essick and Mark Sell

Florida Regional Manager Janice Essick with FLIP camera raffle winner Mark Sell

During the media luncheon, an Ultra FLIP Video camera was raffled off. One lucky audience member, Mark Sell of the Miami agency Wragg & Casas, won the camera. Mark is already using his FLIP for client interviews.  In regard to tips for using the popular FLIP, our experts recommend:

  • When filming, be as close to the subject as possible.
  • Do not use high contrast.
  • Remember to also post on your company’s Facebook, YouTube and Twitter accounts.

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


Bulldog Reporter’s 2010 Media Relations Summit Recap

July 1, 2010

by Nikelle Feimster, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire New York

Business Wire was on-site as an anchor sponsor at Bulldog Reporter’s 2010 Media Relations Summit held on Monday June 28 at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York. More than 20 top public relations and media executives shared insight and vision about how PR professionals can survive a challenging, yet exciting, future in communications.

BW Director of Global Agency Relations Tom Mulgrew Introduces Keynote Speaker Tina Brown of The Daily Beast

There were five provocative keynote sessions during the Summit. Tom Mulgrew, Director of Global Agency Relations at Business Wire, did an outstanding job introducing the second session titled “The Future of Media: Digital Changes Everything.” Keynote speaker Tina Brown, founder of The Daily Beast, gave her perspective on how consumers’ needs are changing and which business models will sustain media going forward.

The other sessions were:

  • The Future of Public Relations: Seizing the Opportunity
  • The Future of Journalism: Transforming the Fourth Estate
  • The Future of Media Relations Technology: New Tools for Greater Impact
  • The Future of Social Media Marketing: PR’s New Paradigm

The event also included intimate roundtables, which was my favorite part of the conference. Journalists, bloggers, editors, and producers gave insight into how their professional world is changing and how they prefer to work with communicators. I had the opportunity to talk one-on-one with some very impressive writers and editors from The Daily Candy, Crain’s New York Business, Newsday, Epicurious.com, and Food & Wine Magazine. They discussed the media they cover and suggested the best ways for PR professionals to pitch their publications. Sarah Shepard, Director of Sales, New York Region, Christine Corey, Account Manager, New York and Tom Mulgrew each did a fantastic job leading their own roundtable sessions which sparked great discussions. Sarah moderated sessions with Inc.com and Self Magazine,  Christine moderated a session with Bloomberg Television and Tom led a roundtable discussion with Popular Mechanics.

Here are some highlights from the roundtables discussions I participated in:

  • Brook Siegel, Entertainment Editor for DailyCandy, says that DailyCandy “prides itself on covering what’s new and undiscovered or makes life more fun and stylish.” When it comes to pitching, Brooke is most annoyed when someone pitches a story that has nothing to do with what they cover. Another pitch peeve: sending pitches in the mail. If you send her something via email, there is no need to send it via snail mail too.
  • Food & Wine Senior Editor Christine Quinlan thinks that photos with stories are great. 300 dpi is a good size for print, and 72 dpi is good for online.
  • Sylvia Carter, Food Columnist at Newsday, says that PR people should read the publications before pitching them and research the reporters to see what they wrote about in the past. Also, she suggests placing food stories in other sections of the paper. Business sometimes covers food trends from a business angle.
  • Lauren Salkeld, Associate Editor at Epicurious.com, also stressed the importance of being familiar with the publication or website. She finds it insulting when she gets a pitch that is not relevant. She also finds blanket emails insulting. She likes when emails are addressed directly to her.

The Ultimate Irony

July 1, 2010

– by Neil Hershberg, Senior Vice President, Global Media

Neil Hershberg

Neil Hershberg, SVP - Global Media

It is perhaps the ultimate irony: playing fast and loose with the facts to promote disclosure and transparency.

With online disclosure tools becoming an integral part of today’s expanding disclosure mosaic, the “window of opportunity” for web disclosure proponents to capitalize on their advisory services is closing fast.

The proliferation of newswire service providers offering web-based investor-relations solutions as part of their product portfolio has marginalized these reform advocates. The newswires have integrated the power of the Internet into an expansive multi-channel disclosure matrix that leverages a range of communications platforms. The swift and successful industry transformation has largely relegated web disclosure strategists to the sidelines; the need for their consultative services is drying up faster than a passing shower in the Sahara.

With a need to reinvent themselves to remain relevant in this revamped landscape, some have resorted to distasteful tactics that border on desperation. Business Wire’s most valuable asset is its reputation; it also prides itself on its commitment to full and fair disclosure for ALL market participants. We therefore cannot let gross misrepresentations and egregious arguments go unanswered.

Dominic Jones has long used his blog, IR Web Report, as a bully pulpit to sanctify his views. Jones finally confirmed last week what we have said all along: He is simply a vendor in blogger’s clothing, as opposed to an impartial observer. His latest offering is a new “Online Disclosure Model.” (The cost is $575 but, if you had acted before June 30, it would have been yours for only $488.75.) No word on whether he is throwing in a free set of Ginsu knives if you call within the next 15 minutes.

In touting his latest miracle disclosure tonic, Jones’ game plan is to sow seeds of doubt and fear among issuers, making a raft of unsubstantiated allegations that have absolutely no basis in fact.

It is time to separate fact from fiction, focusing on the most flagrant of Jones’ many misrepresentations:

The Claim: “New regulations and new web communications technologies are disrupting established practices. The old model is under pressure and increasingly incapable of meeting the needs of companies and their investors.”

The Facts: The SEC has not issued any new rules governing disclosure compliance requirements since Reg FD was enacted in 2000. The agency’s Interpretive Guidance Release, published in 2008, was just that – guidance, not a rule change. Recent changes in exchange listing requirements simply synched their disclosure guidelines with Reg FD’s decade-old compliance criteria.

The commercial newswire industry has adapted remarkably well to the changing regulatory environment. Business Wire, for example, recently launched InvestorHQ, which features comprehensive self-service content management tools, built-in search engine optimization, social media engagement features, and advanced measurement analytics. Business Wire releases are posted simultaneously on its hosted IR web sites, ensuring equal, real-time access across a range of platforms. Additionally, Business Wire has incorporated RSS feeds, XHTML and other web tools to provide even greater distribution, functionality and flexibility.

The Claim: “…companies have a false sense of security [re compliance] . . . Disclosure is fragmented . . . exposing companies to growing compliance risks.”

The Facts: The web-based disclosure model is the major contributor to the fragmentation that threatens our information infrastructure. The current disclosure system serves the information needs of ALL market participants in an equitable manner. Full-text announcements are readily available via a cross-section of traditional, online and mobile platforms, providing real-time, simultaneous access for institutional and individual investors, as well as allowing issuers to tell their story directly to the investor universe in their own words.

The current disclosure framework also is fully XBRL-compatible, which enables investors to digest data more intelligently and efficiently. Web disclosure hinders the seamless implementation of interactive data initiatives, creating a splintered data environment that limits the benefits of a universal financial reporting format.

The Claim: “It is becoming increasingly clear that companies which continue to rely on full-text PR wire distribution for regulatory compliance are in fact exposing themselves to increased compliance risk and a potential backlash from investors . . . “

The Facts: The simple reality is that issuers and investors see the current system as eminently fair; Reg FD was widely perceived as ending many of the previous practices that favored select investors. There have been no torch-bearing investor insurrections that we know of where the levelness of the playing field was the incendiary issue.

Market observers worldwide agree that our disclosure model is the “best of all possible worlds.” (with apologies to Voltaire). After studying alternative options, international jurisdictions – including the European Union – have reached similar conclusions; the EU adopted the North American disclosure model as the backbone of its 2007 Transparency Obligations Directive.

Business Wire’s patented news delivery system delivers material news simultaneously and in real-time to ALL market participants. We have been awarded patents in the United States and Canada, and we anticipate a patent in Europe in the very near future. We will have passed muster in three major international jurisdictions, which subjected our applications to their own rigorous approval processes.

Jones’ latest rant was likely sparked by the conclusive findings of NIRI’s authoritative membership survey on web disclosure, which unequivocally confirmed that common sense still prevails in the investor relations community. The industry’s reaffirmation of its commitment to best practices was welcome news to investors–and a sharp rebuke to Jones’ one-dimensional crusade.

Jones was undoubtedly disheartened to see that 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 small percentage of senior IR professionals that have made changes to their disclosure practices have ADDED new distribution channels, a strategy that Business Wire has always advocated. The IR industry clearly signaled that it was not ready to jettison a proven disclosure system that is cost-efficient, effective and equitable.

The Claim: “. . . it may no longer be safe for companies to assume that PR wires satisfy Reg FD disclosure.”

The Facts: The important role of the press release in satisfying disclosure has been acknowledged by the world’s most prominent regulatory authorities. In addition to Reg FD itself, CIFiR, an independent advisory group appointed by the SEC to examine ways to improve the financial reporting process, specifically referenced the value of full-text press releases in fair disclosure.

“We do not share the concerns of some commenters that Regulation FD will lead to press releases being supplanted as a regular means of corporate disclosure. In many cases, a widely-disseminated press release will provide the best way for an issuer to provide broad, non-exclusionary disclosure of information to the public,” noted Reg FD.

Securities regulators and stock exchanges in other major financial centers – including the UK’s FSA, France’s AMF, and Canada’s TSX – specifically cite a broadly distributed press release as the key to regulatory compliance.

The Claim: “. . . the diminished primacy of the PR wires as disclosure tools.”

The Facts: As already noted, the NIRI membership survey shows that the use of paid press releases as primary disclosure vehicles has actually increased since the publication of the SEC’s Interpretive Guidance Release.

The Claim: Jones says that smaller, less followed companies are getting “little measurable reaction from investors” when they use a PR wire.

The Facts: Simple logic suggests that smaller, less followed companies are among the biggest beneficiaries of using a PR wire service. Their full-text announcements are carried full-text on a half-million Thomson Reuters terminals, some 300,000 Bloomberg terminals, and on the screens of virtually every other major financial information provider.

Additionally, their news is carried full-text on all major financial portals, including Yahoo! Finance, Dow Jones MarketWatch, and hundreds of other consumer, professional, and industry sites.

That’s tremendous bang for the buck for small companies seeking investor visibility. In my book, PR wires are an absolute must for smaller companies seeking to carve out an investor profile; Jones is grasping at straws in a desperate bid to discredit the news wire industry, which clearly provides outsized value for the distribution dollar.

The Claim: Citing a grossly inflated estimate of the “average” cost of an earnings release, Jones warns of the supposed “chilling effect that PR wire fees have on companies’ willingness to communicate relevant, but not necessarily material information to their investors.”

The Facts: When asked to rank the factors that influence their decision to issue a press release, versus an alternative channel, respondents in the recent NIRI survey ranked, on average, materiality as the most important factor, and cost as the least.

The Claim: “Inconsistent disclosure dissemination leads to uncertainty for investors.”

The Facts: Independent academic research provides strong empirical evidence supporting the value of broadly disseminated news releases. Dr. Eugene Soltes, a Harvard University business professor, has studied this issue exhaustively, concluding: “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. Thus, IR departments should be wary of making changes to news distribution that could diminish dissemination.”

The Claim: In his “Online Disclosure Model” synopsis, Jones writes: “[T]here is widespread uncertainty among investor relations and public relations professionals about how best to adapt their practices to this new reality. Principles-based regulations provide little certainty and vendors of competing services are at odds with one another over which approach is best. In such an environment, it can be hard for business communicators to know what to do.”

The Facts: Hello? Isn’t this what Business Wire has been saying since the SEC’s Interpretive Guidance Release was published nearly two years ago? We’ve said this from Day One . . . and have firmly stood behind our stance ever since.

Ironically, Jones was among the staunchest and most outspoken supporters of the SEC’s Interpretive Guidance Release; his zeal evoked images of Charlton Heston hoisting the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai.

Either reality has finally set in, or Jones has concluded that it is in his commercial self-interest to now distance himself from the SEC Guidance Release. So much for the strength of his convictions.

While Jones pontificates about disclosure issues from his hermit kingdom north of the border, Business Wire brings a real-world, hands-on perspective to the disclosure debate.

We have proudly been at the nexus of the disclosure process for nearly a half-century, interacting on a daily basis with key stakeholders, including issuers, media, regulators, exchange officials, and leading marketplace infomediaries.

It’s time for Jones to leave the safety of his cocoon, and to practice true engagement – he needs to venture outside his comfort zone of like-minded followers. There is a much broader conversation underway that Jones would be wise to listen to.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 590 other followers

%d bloggers like this: