Which Publications Inform Today’s Leading Communicators?

March 18, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

Earlier this year we asked blog readers to share their top daily reads.  We wanted to see which publications are considered must-reads among today’s communications experts.  Do communicators rely on mainstream media to keep them up to date through mainstream media, like The New York Times?  Industry trade magazines such as Mashable?  Or social networks including Twitter and LinkedIN?

The results were somewhat surprising.  With 152 respondents to date, our survey shows:

  • Just 20% of respondents said they read mainstream media such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today on a daily basis, yet these publications continue to be the top-desired coverage targets for small and big B2B and B2C companies alike.
  • Only 9% of those who replied use LinkedIn as a news source, yet LinkedIn continues as a top conversion platform for many businesses.
  • 17% noted Twitter as their primary news source, the highest of any social network, with one communicator smartly pointing out that Twitter’s speed makes  tools such as Google Alerts less valuable.
  • 14% relied on PR industry trades suggesting that these outlets, while valuable, may not produce content frequently enough to warrant a daily read.
  • A mere 2-11% read highly targeted social, digital or SEO-oriented blogs and articles. While this may be because these topics are heavily covered  in other industry publications, we were still surprised by such a low number.

What do you think?  Which publications are you reading every day?  Take two minutes to fill out this survey yourself, and we will continue to share updates as the data change.

Business Wire Reader Survey

Business Wire Reader Survey

You can find the survey here:  http://blog.businesswire.com/2014/02/27/what-publications-to-top-marketers-read-business-wire/


Investor Thoughts on the SEC’s Proposed Disclosure Reform

February 13, 2014

By Farah Merchant, Business Wire

SEC Chair Mary Jo White recently issued a staff report to Congress on disclosure reform initiatives.  The report, mandated by Congress in the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, offers an overview of the SEC’s Regulation S-K.

Regulation S-K pertains to disclosure, and first applies to companies upon IPO that register with the SEC using form S-1, and refers to ongoing reporting requirements in Forms 8-K and 10-K.

SEC reportWhite’s primary concern is the risk of information overload to investors, and she defined information overload as, “a phenomenon in which ever-increasing amounts of disclosure make it difficult for an investor to wade through the volume of information they receive to ferret out the information that is most relevant.”

She believes the guidance needs to be updated as there is repetition in disclosure, where certain items appear in more than one section, i.e., information on legal proceedings that appears in its own section but also in the notes to financial statements, risk factors and MD&A.

White addressed the need for input from market participants for the following proposed recommendations:

  • Recommending that companies file a “core document” or “company profile” with information that changes infrequently (needs to be reworded)
  • Amending the filing process by streamlining and simplifying disclosure requirements to reduce administrative costs
  • Researching ways to enhance the presentation and communication of information; and to use technology to address these issues

Click here for a copy of the full SEC report.

Is less disclosure more helpful or harmful to investors?

According to a recent Fortune article, the early opinion on the street is that although the disclosure requirements of the SEC may need an updated and possible streamlining, the information currently available is useful and helpful.

Although it may be true that not all investors read a filing in full, there are many that do, as the full filing provides insight on investment and voting decisions. By having more information available, investors feel that they can be more diligent in assessing risks. If nothing else, the recent financial crisis has taught investors a valuable lesson and that is to be more informed, more educated and to not discount risks.

So already we have a difference of opinion. On one hand you have the SEC looking to ‘simplify’ their disclosure process, with the possibility of reducing the amount of information necessary for companies to meet disclosure requirements. On the other hand, you have the street, which at first blush is more than happy with the amount of content and would be happy to receive even more granular details.

So where do you stand on SEC disclosures: More, less, or just right?


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!


Critical Content for an IR Site: Press Releases Most Viewed Within Investor Centers

January 13, 2014
Ibrey Woodall, VP, Web Communication Services

Ibrey Woodall, VP, Web Communication Services

By Ibrey Woodall, VP, Web Communications Services

We’ve heard from naysayers for years now that the press release is dead, especially within the financial industry. The statistical truth, however, is that the press release is, by far, the most accessed type of content within an investor relations center, or IR site.

At Business Wire, we work with thousands of publicly traded companies to disseminate press releases containing important financial data. Many of those organizations have also partnered with Business Wire to host their IR site. As we monitored these sites, we noted that the most popular content ranked as follows for 2013:

  1. Press Releases
  2. Events and presentations
  3. Executive biographies
  4. Annual reports and other financial documents
  5. Analyst coverage

With hundreds of thousands of views, the press release reigns supreme as it is viewed almost seven times more than events and presentations, the second most preferred content type. Views for all content types increased from 2012 to 2013. Interestingly enough, executive biographies grew over 300 percent, passing annual reports by a level.

I’ve always championed the frequently asked questions or FAQ section, particularly for the IR site, and it is next in line after the top five content types above. Financial communications can be complex at times, and investors, analysts and financial reporters have a lot of questions they need answered quickly. It makes it straightforward for all parties if the most common questions are provided with the most current answers.

Due to the demand for press releases, it is vital that they post simultaneously and directly to the IR site as they are distributed via the newswire. Categorizing releases not only by date, but also by subject matter, will make them easier to review and manage.


Six Simple Steps to Switch Your IR Site

October 16, 2013

By Ibrey Woodall, VP, Web Communications Services

Ibrey Woodall, VP, Web Communication Services

Ibrey Woodall, VP, Web Communication Services

Earlier this year, The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc. purchased the Corporate Solutions Division of Thomson Reuters which included their IR site hosting services. Recently, NYSE Euronext announced that it would discontinue financial subsidies for companies using these legacy services.

Needless to say, many companies are rapidly performing due diligence to find a new IR site hosting partner. Business Wire is pleased to be a preferred partner for NYSE, meaning qualified companies can easily switch their site hosting to our advanced InvestorHQ platform and continue to receive financial assistance.  In fact, we have helped several of those companies quickly and easily switch their investor center over to our secure, advanced InvestorHQ platform.

If you’re one of these companies and you worry about your IR site – don’t. Review the six simple steps we’ve laid out below, and let Business Wire guide you through the entire process.

  1. Schedule Launch
  2. Transfer Content
  3. Choose Categories
  4. Select Navigation
  5. Match design
  6. Go Mobile

These steps will help you understand what is involved so that your IR site can be converted quickly and cleanly.

1.       Schedule Launch

Anytime you begin a new project, you should visualize the desired end result first, and lay out a structured plan to achieve that outcome. Once we have established your required launch date, Business Wire will provide that plan, including a timeline featuring milestone dates that help us meet the deadline. If your corporate site is in the process of being redesigned, the redesign stage will also be incorporated into the timeline.

During this time, you will be trained on the easy-to-use content management system, and advised on best practices for important areas that span a variety of levels. Consultation will encompass the time zone of your IR site so dates and times post accurately, how your site will display in each of the latest web browsers, the importing of your contact database for email distribution, and the security of your content with access levels for individual site administrators.

2.       Transfer Content

Depending upon how long your company has been in business, you may or may not have a lot of content residing within your current IR site. All you need to do is let your assigned Business Wire HQ Specialist know which content you want to keep and where you want it located within the new site. Your HQ Specialist will physically move the content for you, expediting the launch of your IR site. If you are creating new content for new features and sections within Business Wire InvestorHQ, just send the content to your HQ Specialist for set up.

Not only will all future press releases distributed over Business Wire post automatically into the IR site, but more importantly, the releases will post directly. The distribution of Business Wire press releases and the Business Wire InvestorHQ Investor Center remain within the Business Wire framework, eliminating the need for a third-party wire release aggregator and decreasing the potential of a lost or delayed press release. There are cost-savings, workflow efficiencies and security inherent to using one partner for both services.

GraceIRScreenShot

3.       Choose Categories

Content should be categorized so that it is readily accessible for site visitors. Not only should press releases be available by date, but also by topic or subject matter.  For example, note that CKE Restaurants (http://investor.ckr.com) created categories entitled “Financial Releases,” “CKE,” “Carl’s Jr.,” and “Hardees,” so that their press releases are organized by parent company and brand, yet still allow investors and analysts to locate and access financial releases quickly.

Events and presentations should also be categorized even as commonly as “Past Events” and “Future Events,” as displayed on the W.R. Grace investor center (http://investor.grace.com) when future dates are available. If your company has multiple events, you may consider fine-tuning with classifications like “Webcasts,” “Board Meeting,” “Analyst Day,” or “Press Conference.”

4.       Select Navigation

There are certain types of content, including Analyst Coverage, Stock Charts, SEC Filings, Executive Biographies and additional Corporate Governance documents that should be available within every investor center. Your navigation structure should reflect those content types, and your HQ Specialist will present each of these content types to you and order the navigation in a pattern that best suits your company’s needs.

5.       Match Design

Site visitors need to be able to visually trust that the IR site contains official company data. This is done by following the same fonts, colors, spacing and other design elements that reflect the identity of the corporation. It can also be done by using the company’s domain name within the uniform resource locator (URL) similar to http://investor.chemtura.com or http://ir.standex.com, as well as linking to the IR site from an “Investor Relations” navigation button located on the corporate site. We recommend that the investor center follow the same design as the corporate site, positioning all branding available, even down to the “From” identifier on email alerts and broadcasts.

6.       Go Mobile.

As mobile usage increases dramatically, it is imperative that sites are easily accessible by a mobile audience. Business Wire offers mobile-optimized IR websites that are legible when accessed by smartphones and tablets of varying screen sizes.

When it comes to news distribution, hosting and consumption, it is worth noting that Business Wire has been around for more than 53 years and provides a multitude of financial disclosure services. Partner with Business Wire and stop worrying about your IR site.

For more information on the “must-haves” and “should-haves” for an IR site, we suggest reading: IR Sites: A Guide to Requirements and Best Practices white paper.


Understanding the True Risks of Utilizing Social Media for Financial Disclosure

October 8, 2013

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social & Evolving Media

Last week, Twitter announced to the world it was filing its S-1 via its own social media platform.   While a few vendors in the IR + social media space praise the recent decision by the SEC to allow public companies to disclose material news via social channels, most realize this method is far from a best practice.

What is disclosure via social networks? 

In April 2013, the SEC announced that public companies could utilize social media networks as material disclosure distribution outlets, if they first let investors know which networks they were going to use.  This announcement came with a wide range of support and backlash. Those in favor believe this decision is forward-thinking and a solid fit for the way people communicate today.  Many others believe that this decision will lead to uneven access to content and the sharing of misinformation, ultimately creating a more volatile stock price.

Why are social networks bad platforms for disclosure? 

Before we start, let me reiterate, I am obsessed with social media.  I love Twitter.  I love Facebook.  I’m a wizard at G+, and yet I strongly believe social networks are terrible platforms for disclosure as they simply do not provide immediate, broad access to the news.  Below are several of the road blocks facing this practice that should be considered by every public company before considering this step.

  • Does the news fit the platform?:  Each social network has its own personality and fulfills different end user needs and desires, most of which are not aligned with most companies’ investor profiles.  Facebook, for example, is an excellent recommendation engine.  Pinterest is an aspirational website and Twitter is a continually updating information sharing tool.  None of these sites are being utilized by the average user as legitimate investment forums.  It is important to note that while platforms like StockTwits do bring the discussion of stocks onto Twitter, it is not reflective of Twitter’s overall market use.
  • Lack of visibility of Tweets and social updates:  As noted in this infographic, many company updates are simply not seen by page friends and fans. In fact, 84% of Facebook newsfeed stories are never seen and 71% of tweets are ignored.  This lack of visibility directly affects the success of social network disclosure posts.
  • Manipulated news visibility:  Every social network has the technology and ability to change the visibility of tweets and posts.  Twitter, Facebook, and other networks are monetized by advertising.  Paid tweets, sponsored posts and trends and more increase visibility of “popular” news and take valuable visibility away from non-paid status updates and posts.
  • Potential platform volatility:  Let’s face it, social networks sometimes go offline. Whether it is for system maintenance, too much volume or a DOS attack, when you choose to disclose over a social network, you put yourself at the mercy of a network only a handful of years old.
  • The old game of telephone:  When news is shared out across social networks, people frequently include their own opinion before resharing.   This leads to the possibility of message alteration (on Twitter, these changes are frequently noted with an MT which stands for modified tweet), which could directly impact perception of both the company and the news issued.  Rumors spread quickly on social networks and once misinformation is shared, the company must focus on message correction or risk stock instability.
  • Lack of access to social networks:  In 2011, a study of corporate CIOs shows that 31% of companies did not allow access to social networks during work hours, directly limiting access to real-time breaking news.  As the New York Times noted in 2012, financial institutions continue to struggle with providing traders and analysts with access to these channels.
  • Lack of immediate access to full-text:  The other issue with social networks is that they do not allow for very much text.  This means a company must state the impact of their news in as little as 140 characters and include a link to the full text article.  This 2-step process decreases potential visibility of the full story, and delays access to the news for end users.
  • The impact of delayed access to news:  One of the big discussions this summer in relation to the investment community was the financial impact of Thomson Reuter’s product that provides elite traders access to key information milliseconds before the rest of the financial community.  This service allows traders to buy and sell before the rest of the financial community. Every second counts on Wall Street. CNBC notes that within 10 seconds, hundreds of millions of dollars in trades can be completed.  Social networks are unable to confirm equal visibility of news and tweets, making it very easy for trades to be made before the news has fully been disseminated.
  • The security issue:  While somewhat rare, every social network, every website, faces potential security attacks and risks. Even the AP’s Twitter account was recently hacked, causing  widespread sharing of a false report of a shooting at the White House.  How are consumers supposed to know if your update is legitimate or not?  How quickly can a stock price be halted if false news impacts trading?
  • By the way, who actually uses social networks?:  While many buy-side analysts praise the use of social networks as research tools for reporting (a practice we highly recommend), most social site demographics are not aligned with investor audiences. Pew Internet notes that only 16% of Americans who utilize social networks have a Twitter account while 67% use Facebook.

Did we mention that we love social networks?!  So what should you be doing if you want to socialize your news, increasing overall awareness and engagement with your organization?  Business Wire continues to recommend a mix of tools including:

  • Use broad distribution via a commercial newswire to guarantee your full-text press release is simultaneously put in front of reporters, analysts and interested online parties.
  • Include multimedia to enhance your news – analysts love multimedia, especially video from senior team members.  Not only does multimedia increase viewership and news sharing, it has been proven to both drive deeper company-to-consumer relationships and also humanizes the brand.
  • Blog about it:  One of the best uses for corporate blogs is the ability to provide additional context for corporate news.  These are perfect vehicles to showcase the “why” of your story. And blogs that answer expected media and analyst questions help reporters provide better news coverage, ensuring further approved message permeation, decreasing message confusion and stock volatility.
  • Sharing news socially is a great idea!  Once your news has been posted to your website, share it out across your social channels.  Include Tweet this links inside your release copy to make it easy for your readers to share your highlights.
  • Live tweet:  One of the best ways to use social networks to share out news is to live tweet major events or news.  Draft tweets based on key elements of your press release and tweet them out with links back to your news. Include created multimedia to drive even higher engagement and sharing.
  • Utilize video chats: Create a video version of your blog and share each video’s embed links with key reporters and analysts. Today’s news outlets crave video content, as it both engages readers and increases the time the reader spends on their website. Analysts like the opportunity to see as well as hear from senior management. And of course, just like the blog, this content continues to drive message permeation.
  • Monitor the Conversation:  This is the number one way analysts today use social media.  They use it to see what people are saying about you, your product, your reputation and company.  The best way for organizations to utilize social media for disclosure is to listen.  What are people saying about your company, what misconceptions need to be clarified, what message points are resonating and which ones are not? Through listening you can not only find where conversations are occurring about your brand, but major themes, providing you with a roadmap for future discussion points.

There is a real, legitimate place for social media tools and platforms in the news distribution process, just not for material disclosure.

What do you think? Do social media platforms meet the requirement for consistent broad disclosure? We would love to hear your thoughts below!

Have questions about the role social media plays in the news distribution process? Let us know!


Join Tara Atwood and Other IROs at The IR Experience on Oct. 1st

September 12, 2013
guest post by Tara Atwood, Manager, Investor Relations at Time Warner Cable
Tara Atwood, Manager, Investor Relations for Time Warner Cable

Tara Atwood, Manager, Investor Relations for Time Warner Cable

As a fellow IRO, I thought I’d share a few reasons why you should consider attending a very interesting and exclusive new event for investor relations officers.

On Tuesday, October 1st an intimate group of IROs will gather at Blue Water Grill in NYC for what is being called The IR Experience. I just signed on to participate and I want to make sure it’s on your radar as well. In particular, what resonated with me was:

  1. The content. The agenda intrigued me because it included important topics such as career advancement, how to keep tabs on your stock, how to deal with a crisis/activist investor situation, and IR services. The latter is often a subject that is often pushed to the side, but one that takes up so much of an IROs time. Given I’ve spent countless hours evaluating numerous vendors I wanted to help to share some of that knowledge with others, which I will do during a session called “The IR Services Conundrum”.
  2. The format. The emphasis of the day is really focused on sharing our experience as an IRO with each other, and I was pleased to hear that every session is not going to be presented in a panel format. There will also be ample networking opportunities which is appealing to me.
  3. Time invested = time saved. Given the career we’ve chosen, not a day goes by that we have a great deal of time to spare, but I decided to get involved because I felt that taking a day out of my schedule to share my experience and learn more about the latest issues would save me time in the long run. For those coming in from out-of-town, NYC allows you the opportunity to hold strategic meetings with potential investors while you’re in town.
  4. The food. For those who aren’t familiar with Blue Water Grill, it’s a venue that is will allow us to enjoy ourselves while learning, networking and sharing our experiences with each other. The food is notches above what we’re typically used to getting when attending a conference and the menu can be viewed here. There will also be a live jazz band playing during the networking reception to round out the day.

I hope you decide to join me, Adam Townsend from CBS, Hank Diamond from Take-Two Interactive Software, Phil Talamo from UBS, J.T. Farley from ITG, and your other peers on October 1st.

They’re offering a full-registration for only $100 until September 25th if you enter code SAVE100. You can learn more at: www.irexperience.com/register.


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