Using PR Targeting and Measurement Strategies for Investor Relations

July 16, 2014

By Farah Merchant, Global Disclosure & Financial Reporting Services, Business Wire

Targeting, monitoring and measurement are essential to every successful public or investor communications program.

So how do you do it?

The first step for any effective program is to identify or ‘target’ your organization’s correct audience. If performed early on in the communications program, a great deal of time and money will be saved. The earlier you can set up your conversation monitoring, and metrics, the more time you have to make adjustments or changes, as the data dictates.

The Barcelona Building Blocks, the first set of PR measurement rules, were introduced in June 2010 at the Second European Summit on Measurement by The Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles and include the following tenets:

  • Goal setting and measurement are fundamental aspects of any PR program.
  • Measuring the effect on outcomes is preferred to measuring outputs.
  • The effect on business results should  be measured where possible.
  • Media measurement requires quantity and quality.
  • Advertising value equivalents (AVEs) are not the value of public relations.
  • Social media can, and should be measured.
  • Transparency and ability to duplicate results are paramount to sound measurement.

When it comes to measurement, IR and PR teams approach it differently.  While both use qualitative and quantitative methods of measurement, investor relations communicators tend to see more value in qualitative metrics. Moving towards a measurement process that combines qualitative and subjective metrics can be a challenge.  While there may be some overlap, Investor relations teams monitor different terms and audiences, all which produce different outcomes. The role of investor relations today includes complying with SEC regulations as well as engaging with and listening to vast array of audiences such as regulators, analysts, investors and media.

Investor relations departments have traditionally measured progress based on either outputs or outcomes.

Output measures items such as number of analysts covering the company, quality of analyst coverage, and media coverage – traditional, online and social, all which can directly influence stock price.

Outcomes are what IR professionals tend to be measured upon – achieving a fair market value for the stock. Measuring outcomes by program does not allow for proper attribution of the external impact from industry activity, roadshows or previous campaigns or news. However, in the wake of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, share price is not necessarily the best metric for evaluating an IRO’s success.

In 2014, conversation analysis is a standard part of any communication program.  While some IROs are catching up, other investor relations teams are allocating larger portions of their budgets to measurement and evaluation. According to a survey conducted by NIRI in 2011 on “How IR Programs Measure Up”, IROs had only allocated 1 to 5 percent of their total operating budgets to this area. Public relation departments, on the other hand, reported an increase from 4 to 9 percent in total amount of budget that corporations were allocating to the measurement of PR and communication programs.

To establish a successful investor relations monitoring program, IROs must first come up with guidelines for conducting and measuring an IR campaign including:

  • Defining the target audience – investors, analysts, shareholders, activists, reporters and more
  • Creating key messaging for these audiences that feature positive company information most likely to impact audience perception;
  • Determining social and traditional communication channels such as press releases, online newsrooms, IR sites, blogs, email, text messaging, social channels and more;
  • Taking a new look at IR communication programs to ensure ideal impact upon the reader.  These can include quarterly and annual reports, conference calls, road show presentations, press releases, and most recently social media;
  • And finally actively conducting perception studies by engaging directly with investors and analysts about the effectiveness of a company’s investor communications, the responsiveness of the IR team and the quality of disclosure.

Social media has not played as prominent a role in the realm of IR targeting/monitoring but this is changing quickly.  IROs should be putting emphasis on tracking the temperature of their company via social media channels.

The right approach to measuring the impact of an investor relations program is to focus on your objectives and to measure the results that affect your objectives.

Think about what you’re trying to achieve in your communication campaign, i.e. identifying conversations about your key terms, the audiences you want to engage with and the results you want to achieve.  Goals can include identifying all conversation types, increasing positive discussions of your company within core audiences, decreasing hype or message misalignments.

Once you know your audience, consider what kind of conversation and materials you want to share with them.  This will vary by platform.  For example:

  • If you find discussions are on Twitter, add images to your Tweets to receive higher shares and engagement. Don’t forget to monitor your cashtag ($ sign + ticker) to capture direct discussions about your stock
  • LinkedIn discussions are generally textual, but images receive much larger space on the page, so upload an image with your update and link to increase impact
  • Facebook varies its content by the user’s preference, so use a mix of video, images and text and track the results to determine impact
  • YouTube is the world’s largest video library. With billions of videos watched daily, it is not surprising that more than 30% of all searches are related to news

Monitoring must also include identifying important trends in consumer opinion and top influencers, activist activity and then tracking changes over time.

NUVI bubble stream

The NUVI Bubble Stream

At the 2014 NIRI National Conference, we had the opportunity to see the impact of traditional and social communications on company reputation and stock price via the NUVI’s social media monitoring platform.  In one easy step, by simply typing in the company name and cashtag (a dollar sign + ticker symbol), one could instantly  identify conversations, discussion trends, influencers,  message adoption and geo-resonance, all data used to create a better, stronger IR communication program.

The principles of measurement, albeit designed for PR professionals, are just as applicable to IROs.  Although differences do exist between the roles of public relations and investor relations, i.e. different stakeholders, there is still a great deal of overlap.  IROs will benefit by developing a standard of measurement using the methods that PR professionals have implemented as a guideline and making them more relevant to the financial health and reputation of the organization.

Have questions on how to create an IR program that embraces these principles?  Let us know! We work with thousands of public companies around the globe, ensuring we stay on the forefront of investor relations best practices.


Social Media, Wall Street, and the Big Questions Still Being Asked

July 10, 2014

By M. Joe Curro, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire

Show me something innovative, not just new. I have a wide range of interests, but one thing that really gets me going is finding a creative approach, a new way of presenting what I’ve seen before. A triple-A game studio released yet another first-person military simulation? Meh. Astoria is getting another fusion restaurant? Yawn. Netflix is suggesting another season of Star Trek… OK, bad example. How do they know me so well?

I had the opportunity to witness a creative approach last Thursday at PRSA-NY’s inaugural #SocialWallStreet Meetup. Held at the Museum of American Finance, the event featured a discussion of how to address the questions facing Wall Street’s use of social media. New regulations have been passed, but few companies seem eager to embrace the opportunity. The decision to frame the event as an “unconference” was more than the cheerful adoption of an undefined buzzword. It was brilliant.

prsa socialwallstreetBusiness Wire has been a part of this debate for years, encouraging our clients to use social media channels as part of a well-rounded communications strategy for both PR and IR. While there are plenty of risks to keep in mind, social media has the potential to be incredibly valuable. I was glad to see that Business Wire’s message has clearly been getting out there. As a refresher, check here for a white paper on the risks and rewards of social media for regulated companies.

David Rosen, SVP of Digital Corporate & Public Affairs at Edelman, ably played MC to a group of about 50 participants from agencies, financial companies and others. David got the ball rolling by laying the framework for the day — namely, that we were not there to debate whether or not permission had been granted from a regulatory standpoint for companies to use social media. We were working from the assumption that it had, and the question we needed to answer was: Now what?

The event started with brief presentations and a free-form Q&A session with David’s experts, Joyce Sullivan, VP of Social Business Programs at Socialware, and Tom Chernaik, CEO and Co-Founder of CommandPost/CMP.LY.  We then brainstormed in groups of five or six, while David, Joyce and Tom circulated among us, and came up with the most immediate concerns preventing a company from embracing social media as part of its communications strategy.  Once we had around two dozen questions, we voted to determine the top six that we felt needed the most urgent attention. Each group took one question and proposed specific answers that could be implemented to address the concerns of cautious social media adopters.

The groups considered:

  1. How to convince senior management that social media isn’t just for teenagers
  2. How to make the business case for social media
  3. How to create compliant content
  4. How to help people realize that social media is more than just Twitter
  5. How to do real-time response
  6. How to respond if your social channels are hacked

We arrived at some clever answers and heard a broad range of ideas. But the part I like best is that we’re not done. The #SocialWallStreet event was not intended to be a one-off experiment. It was a seed to get a conversation growing in our industry. There will be future Meetups (and I look forward to them), but we should be talking about this constantly.

The answers proposed by the attendees of Thursday’s event can be seen here. I invite anyone and everyone to join the conversation, and if you’ve got an idea to share, let us know.  Post a comment to the event summary. Start a debate within your own company. Heck, send me your idea! This is just going to get more interesting, and I want to see how it turns out.

Joyce captured the attitude of the event perfectly as she wrapped up her opening remarks: “The regulations are in place, but you’re all waiting for someone to give you permission. OK, fine. I give you permission. Now get to it.”  Sounds good to me.


A.G. Schneiderman Applauds Decision by Business Wire to Prohibit High-Frequency Traders from Purchasing Direct News Feed

February 20, 2014

Business Wire issued a press release today that we will no longer allow high frequency trading firms to license direct feeds. We’re pleased to see NY Attorney General Schneiderman’s reaction to the decision, stating: “I strongly encourage other participants in this industry to follow the leadership of companies like Business Wire and join us in the effort to level the playing field between high-frequency traders and the rest of the investing public.”

To quote our CEO, Cathy Baron Tamraz, “Our most important assets are our reputation and the trust we have earned from our clients and other market participants for more than a half century. Therefore, we have pro-actively made the decision to terminate these feeds.”

(note: the link to the NY AG press release has been updated)


Best Practices Guide to Successfully Navigating Social Media for Publicly-Held Companies

January 16, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social + Evolving Media

We are excited to share our latest guide for investor relations and corporate communication professionals outlining the steps they should take (and avoid) to both engage and manage their reputation across social channels.

Business Wire Benefits of SM for IROs

This report details the opportunities and risks of using social media as both a research and communication tool in today’s investor relations programs.  Included are 12 ways investor relations professionals can leverage social media tools for a stronger, more effective engagement program, as well as 12 reasons why social media platforms are not compliant communication tools.

Embracing social media as a news sharing and engagement tool

Business Wire continues to advocate utilizing social media channels to amplify the visibility of company news.  These channels, designed to enhance the communication between organizations and their members, are perfect for brand advocacy.

Business Wire’s guidance for running a successful and legally compliant socially oriented investor communication program include:

  • How to spot an emerging crisis or reputation attack using social media monitoring
  • The importance and impact of multimedia to analysts and other key constituents
  • Real time communications, or why live tweeting earnings works so well
  • Ways to initiate and expand third party sharing of pertinent company information increasing the visibility and authority of your news

Avoiding social channels as a sole means of sharing financial or disclosure oriented news

For the last 4 months, we have taken a long hard look at the concept of utilizing social media distribution channels for financial disclosure.  While we are obviously big fans of utilizing social media as a tool to share news and information, the technology simply is not there yet for these channels to replace traditional disclosure platforms.

Business Wire’s guidance on why social media platforms are not appropriate as the sole method of disclosure includes:

  • Potential coverage limitation
  • Lack of visibility of social updates
  • The impact and risk of message modification
  • Social network demographics and usage rates

To download this free guide in its entirety, visit http://go.businesswire.com/social-media-for-financial-disclosure
Share this with your friends!  Tweet this news out in one click by visiting http://ctt.ec/UEbvf

Want to schedule a time to speak with a Business Wire sales representative about social media, news distribution and disclosure compliance?  Let us know!


All About the Midwest Investment Conference

August 14, 2013
guest post by James M. Bailey, CFA, Vice President, Manager of Derivatives & Innovation at PNC and Chairperson of the Midwest Investment Conference Committee
James M. Bailey

James M. Bailey

The city of Cleveland will proudly play host to public-company executives, institutional investors and industry analysts from around the region on Nov. 19, 2013, all of whom will be participating in CFA Society Cleveland’s inaugural Midwest Investment Conference (MIC).

MIC presents a unique opportunity for public issuers and qualified institutional investors to engage in an open, no-strings-attached setting and will take place at the newly opened Cleveland Convention Center.

The conference will include presentations from issuers located throughout the Midwest and feature at least two tracks of industrial and materials companies. Those currently registered to attend include:

Investors and analysts will have the opportunity to request one-on-one meetings with management teams, as space and time permit, and sponsors enjoy the benefits of increased visibility among a highly respected audience of decision makers.

Special thanks to those supporting the conference:

Presentation slots and sponsorship opportunities are still available. For general inquiries or more information about attending, presenting or sponsoring, please go to: www.midwestinvestmentconference.org, email us at admin@go2mic.org, or call us at 216-696-8066.


REMINDER: US Stock Exchanges Closed Thursday, July 4

July 2, 2013

If your company is publicly traded in the US, please be aware that the U.S. exchanges (NYSE/NYSE MKT, NASDAQ, OTCBB, OTC Markets) will be closed on Thursday, July 4 in observance of Independence Day.

The U.S. exchanges will also be closing at 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday, July 3.

Calendar of US Federal Holidays:
http://www.opm.gov/Operating_Status_Schedules/fedhol/2013.asp

NYSE Holiday Calendar:
http://corporate.nyx.com/en/holidays-and-hours/nyse

The following are some numbers that may be of assistance:

Dow Jones: 212.416.2000
Reuters: 646.223.6000
Bloomberg: 212.617.2300

US SEC Branch of EDGAR Filer Support
Telephone: (202) 942-8900

NYSE Client Services Department
Telephone: (212) 656-3000
Fax: (212) 656-7299 (212) 656-2294
Email: pressreleases@nyx.com

NYSE MKT
Telephone: (212) 656-3000 or (212)-656-5804
Email: pressreleases@nyx.com

NASDAQ Stockwatch
Telephone: (800) 537-3929
Fax: (301) 978-8510

Link to NASDAQ.net: NASDAQ.net

OTC Bulletin Board (OTCBB)
Telephone: (203) 375-9609


The Challenges and Value of Communicating with Your Board

June 21, 2013
by Janice Essick, Regional Manager, Business Wire/Florida
Janice Essick

Janice Essick

As a first timer at the North America NIRI conference held at one of South Florida’s premier venues, the Westin Diplomat, I was overwhelmed with the level of access to experienced, knowledgeable IR experts that were open to sharing their success stories throughout their career.   As an informational resource to our clients, I thought that this session would be mutually beneficial, as I could learn how IROs also act as an internal source of knowledge to their board and share some valuable insight.

Typically, the practice of corporate IR is generally outward-focused, but this discussion spoke about importance of how internal board communications play a key role in the success of the IRO.   The panel consisted of senior level management in various industries, both from the private sector and government contracted organizations.  They offered a wealth of knowledge and shared some interesting stories, as they answered questions asked by Moderator Natalie Hairston, Vice President of Investor Relations, Chief Governance Officer & Corporate Secretary, ENGlobal Corporation.

Excellent panel of experts:

Jeffrey L. Chastain, Vice President, Investor Relations & Corporate Communications
Noble Drilling Services, Inc.

Cynthia Clayton, Vice President, Investor Relations & Corporate Communications
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals

David Dragics, Senior Vice President, Investor Relations
CACI International

Top 10 valuable tips for communicating with your board shared by the above panelists:

  1. Be brief and share few details as to why the company is performing X% up or down.
  2. Use slide presentations to provide color and commentary for the executive summary.
  3. Send an agenda item request note to board 4 weeks before meeting to have them provide their input on topics.
  4. Be prepared to conduct IR 101 discussions to new board members to define buy/sell sides.
  5. IROs should know how the company is perceived on the street and be able to share these perceptions with the board.
  6. Bring the board up to speed to understand the broader perception of funds flow.  Do not share the minutia.
  7. Share press release announcements with the board.
  8. Explain to the board why investors act a certain way – not necessarily an industry explanation.
  9. If stocks are performing well, be prepared to answer more questions and reasons why by tapping into all resources.
  10. Be careful to invite investors to board meetings.  Find out their agenda first and then make sure management (IRO) is in attendance as well.   Or hold an investor dinner with the top ranking investors and have CEO host the event.

By the end of this discussion, the message was delivered loud and clear:

The IR’s constructive involvement with his or her board is essential in helping its members make decisions regarding strategic direction of the Company that will be supported by investors and strengthen investor confidence, particularly by reducing enterprise risk.


The Push and Pull of Social Media for Investor Relations

June 20, 2013
by Eric M. Bushkin, Senior Account Executive, Business Wire/Florida

There’s a popular old saying: “Save the best for last.” For me, that held true at this year’s NIRI National Conference at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, FL.

As many of our publicly traded partners know, the NIRI National Conference is THE event of the year for IROs to get together, network, learn about what’s new in the world of disclosure and meet companies that provide tools to help make the disclosure world a bit simpler.

It was an honor to be able to be a part of the Business Wire team at this year’s conference and as I looked over this year’s agenda, one particular event stood out in my mind: The last one. And it was all about social media.  The panel consisted of IR practitioners and investment professionals, and provided practical advice on using social media as an additive method of engagement.

The role of social media as a primary disclosure channel wasn’t really in debate – the group felt social media is not appropriate to break material news, but has many uses to help further engage and reach interested constituents.

Dennis Walsh, Vice President & Director, Social Media for Sharon Merrill Associates, did an excellent job on keeping the interactivity lively during the session, titled “Take the Wheel and Drive: Your Company’s Social Media Strategy”

As we learned very early on during this session, not many of us in investor relations are using social media at all as part of our day-to-day communications efforts.  If you’re saying, “I sure do not use social media” you certainly are not alone. In fact, according to a just-released NIRI survey, 72% of us working in investor relations have not even dipped our toes in the social media waters and remain on the side of the pool.

According to the survey, there are several reasons that IROs avoid social media:

  • Lack of investor demand
  •  Management doesn’t see value
  • Inability to control message
  • Lack of understanding on how to best utilize social media

For the minority of us that are engaging in social media, Twitter remains the most-utilized platform.  RJ Jones, investor relations officer at Zillow, provided an innovative and medium-appropriate approach to using social media and the impact it had on earnings questions fielded.  The Zillow team determines in advance which data they want to share via social media, and then creates short info-graphic like images to post during their earnings call.  They don’t live tweet their executive comments, but rather stick to pre-determined messages.  They field questions via their webcast as well as social media.  They pick up additional questions with their follow-up blog post.  A set of practical, manageable and measurable approaches to social media for investor relations amplifies their engagement.

At Business Wire, we’ve long provided a wide range of industry- and topic-specific Twitter channels that auto-tweet client news to financial bloggers, reporters and investors.  We also provide a wide range of channel-specific social media sharing tools on press releases and each piece of multimedia content.  We encourage IROs to understand the keywords, cashtags ($tickersymbol) and platforms that are most used by investors in your stock and industry.  Listening and sentiment tools are a good first start.  (Business Wire’s Social Media Landscape reports can be ordered as one-offs when you issue an earnings report to get a sense of the social impact of your material news.)  In addition, we encourage you to point to your official IR social media channels and step out how you use them – to field questions during calls, to tweet links to press releases and filings, etc.  Remember, consistency is crucial in any communications channel you adopt: Treat news – good or bad – equally in your communications efforts.

What other ways can IROs become more comfortable in getting our message out to the financial community through social channels? It may be a good idea to take a walk down your hall for a visit with your company’s public relations and marketing folks. Those departments have been utilizing social media with regularity for a very long time and certainly can convey some knowledge to help you make an impact and engage your specific audience.

This way, you can collaborate with those members of your communications team to ensure message continuity for all audiences. You’ll also learn ways to both push and pull information:

  • Pull by constantly monitoring a variety of social channels to see what conversations are happening around your company.
  • Push by having a regular program of output into those channels; both your own content and that of your investors and customers, by optimizing your news for search and by making it easy for readers to share your content.

Issuing a press release over Business Wire not only fulfills your disclosure requirements, but pushes your press release out to mainstream media and financial portals, as well as putting your news out on the web, so folks can search for your company and ultimately pull your information from search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. Releasing your news to these two important — yet distinctively different – audiences is vital, since most of us are no longer at our offices in front of a desk for the majority of our work day. Mobile’s share of total pageviews is growing every day, and most analysts believe mobile devices are set to overtake desktop PCs as a dominant internet access platform. So we must be able to access news and be able to deliver our message any time of the day, regardless of where we are.

Once you become more and more comfortable using social media you will be able to implement this as part of your IR strategy. After all, 66% of companies already have a social media policy currently in place and it’s imperative that the IR team is adhering to it.

Judging by the attendance at the NIRI session, we have a strong desire to learn more about how best to apply social media in meaningful and compliant ways to investor relations. Always feel free to reach out to your local office at Business Wire so we can teach you some tips and best practices as it pertains to your financial news being released to the masses.

Follow Eric on Twitter for more of his insights on PR, IR and other topics.


The Four Reasons Why We Love Attending IR Conferences

June 6, 2013
by Michael Becker, Senior Vice President, Financial Product Strategy
Michael Becker

Michael Becker, SVP Financial Product Strategy

It’s our favorite time of the year at Business Wire: North American IR conference season. For non-IR community folks reading this post, you are assuredly thinking this guy (two thumbs pointed squarely at me) needs a life. And maybe I do, but allow me to briefly share why we love attending the CIRI and NIRI National conferences.

1) Keen Interest: Clients and prospects alike proactively seek us out and ask, “What new solutions has Business Wire launched this year?” It’s a great question and as a product strategist, one I relish greatly. We know and respect how busy IROs are throughout the year, so we appreciate the proactive nature of conference attendees. Additionally, not only do we get to share what’s new with you, we get to hear your thoughts on innovation, market trends, and product enhancements. A true win-win.

2) Intelligent Attendees: I attended my first NIRI National event in 1999 and I remember thinking, “These are some very sharp folks.” Full disclaimer: I was also very excited by the copious amounts of free sushi. (I was much younger . . .) Fourteen annual conferences later and I still feel the same way (about the attendees, not so much the sushi), which leads to my next point.

3) Sophisticated Products for a Sophisticated Community: This year at NIRI we’ll have experts on hand to discuss Business Wire’s cutting-edge InvestorHQ IR sites, social media monitoring, sentiment and visualization, and next-generation video production services. All new product lines that embody Business Wire’s core tenet to satisfy the distribution and measurement needs of a sophisticated user community.

4) The Intersection of Personal and Professional: As a local NIRI chapter board member and past-president, I am uber-fortunate to see local IR community members fairly frequently. However, as we all get older and invariably busier, the national conferences provide adequate time to learn together, smile and laugh with old and new friends alike, catch-up personally and professionally, share novel ideas and create new memories.

If you are attending the NIRI National conference, please do come by to say hello (Booth #403), take The Warren Buffett IR Trivia Challenge, attend our IR site Lunch and Learn on Tuesday and, of course, remember to ask Business Wire, “What’s new?”

Travel safely!

Take the Warren Buffett IR Trivia Challenge at NIRI 2013 and be entered to win an Apple iPad 3!


REMINDER: US Stock Exchanges Closed Monday, May 27

May 24, 2013

Please be aware that the U.S. exchanges (NYSE/NYSE MKT, NASDAQ, OTCBB, Pink Sheets) will be closed on Monday, May 27  in observance of Memorial Day.

Calendar of US Federal Holidays:
http://www.opm.gov/Operating_Status_Schedules/fedhol/2013.asp

NYSE Holiday Calendar:
http://corporate.nyx.com/en/holidays-and-hours/nyse

The following are some numbers that may be of assistance:Dow Jones: 212.416.2000

Reuters: 646.223.6000
Bloomberg: 212.617.2300US SEC Branch of EDGAR Filer Support
Telephone: (202) 942-8900

NYSE Client Services Department
Telephone: (212) 656-3000
Fax: (212) 656-7299 (212) 656-2294
Email: pressreleases@nyx.com

NYSE MKT
Telephone: (212) 656-3000 or (212)-656-5804
Email: pressreleases@nyx.com

NASDAQ Stockwatch
Telephone: (800) 537-3929
Fax: (301) 978-8510
Link to NASDAQ.net: NASDAQ.net

OTC Bulletin Board (OTCBB)
Telephone: (203) 375-9609


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