Web-Only Disclosure: Less Continues to be Not More

June 21, 2012
by Michael Becker, Senior Vice President, Financial Product Strategy

Michael Becker, SVP Financial Product Strategy

At the recent NIRI National event in Seattle, I attended the recurring panel on web disclosure.  In 2010 I authored a post-NIRI blog about a similar Web disclosure panel and I wanted to take a few moments to tell you what has changed (or not) over the past 24 months.

So what has changed since NIRI’s first foray into discussing web disclosure?  Largely nothing.  Microsoft, the panel’s moderator, web discloses earnings-only and continues to utilize a commercial newswire for IR and PR purposes (119 times YTD), Thomson still preaches about the benefits of web disclosure in order to promote its half-baked newswire, former SEC attorneys tell us that an 8-K is disclosure and the NIRI community is yet again rendered unable to answer the key question: As communicators, is communicating less fully and less fairly okay?

The reality is that web-only disclosure cannot stand-up to what commercial newswire services like Business Wire provide quarter-after-quarter without fail:

  • Editorial Efficiency: I teach at a local business school and tell my students (repeatedly): put down your project for an hour or two and when you come back, the errors will stand out.  As professional communicators, we do not always have the option to “walk away” from our work for a few hours.  That is precisely why a newswire editor is so imperative to your news release process.  Business Wire editors work 24/7/365 for you, professionally formatting your copy while catching thousands of errors each year.  Publish press releases directly to the web and you are essentially a “Wallenda” without a net.
  • Audit Trail Assurance: From start to finish, the Business Wire process is fully audited.  We know who submitted what and when, and which editor worked on your project every step of the way.  When the SEC comes calling, and they do regularly, it is the Business Wire audit trail that protects you.
  • Redundant Systems: Business Wire spends millions of dollars each year maintaining and upgrading its replicated, secure servers in San Francisco and New York.  With Business Wire you never have to worry about website continuity.  The same goes for our InvestorHQ clients too!
  • Truly Simultaneous Distribution: Somewhere in this discussion simultaneity has fallen by the wayside.  But it can’t.  In an environment that is getting faster and faster, web posting is slower.  Why reward those with multi-million dollar systems geared to scrape your website with privileged access?  Business Wire ensures simultaneity of your news delivery – - to the millisecond.  Disseminate over Business Wire and your content is ubiquitous to the world instantly.  Now that’s full and fair!

We at Business Wire are firm believers in technology and best practices.  Admittedly, our very vocal, public stance could be construed as self-serving.  Therefore, if you can counter that disseminating a full-text press release over a commercial newswire isn’t the fullest and fairest way to achieve Regulation FD disclosure, we are all ears.


A GUIDE TO GLOBAL IR: Leveraging Languages and Platforms to Reach International Investors

June 19, 2012
by Neil Hershberg, Senior Vice President, Global Media
Neil Hershberg

Neil Hershberg, SVP – Global Media

A recurrent theme at this year’s recent NIRI conference was the growing importance of global investor relations, and the corresponding need for international “best practices” standards.

The heightened industry focus reflects the realization that today’s financial markets transcend geographic boundaries, and that the competition for capital is more intense than ever.

While the spotlight on global investor outreach is certainly welcomed, the reality is that many of today’s accessible and affordable turn-key solutions are inadvertently ignored. The ability to seamlessly connect with a much larger investor universe is within easy reach of virtually every issuer; most importantly, it requires no budget-busting expenditures in the way of expanded infrastructure or staffing.

The key is to capitalize on the full potential of the major financial platforms that serve as the lifeblood of the global investment industry. Specifically, this means leveraging the multilingual platforms of the leading news/data systems, regional financial services that are hugely influential in their respective markets, and postings to non-U.S. portals that are closely monitored by the retail sector.

There is a natural tendency to narrowly view Bloomberg, Dow Jones and Thomson Reuters as largely an English-language bridge to international investors.  Yet these powerful, robust platforms reach investors worldwide in scores of languages. (Bloomberg, for example, hosts 41 languages.) This important capability is largely underutilized, and should be a strategic element of all multi-dimensional investor relations campaigns.

To be clear, English is universally recognized as the international “language of business.”  Yet there are sizeable audiences with substantial assets whose preference remains their own native languages. The major financial services, locked in a fierce competitive battle for subscribers, are keen to cater to these diverse constituencies.

Business Wire is the only commercial news wire that has committed the necessary resources to fully capitalize on this obscured opportunity. Simply put, Business Wire’s geographic and linguistic footprint is the largest in the industry, enabling public companies to target portfolio managers and retail investors in developed and emerging markets alike, reaping the unbridled benefits of these powerful platforms.

To put this potent opportunity into perspective, Business Wire releases are available in 19 languages on the Bloomberg terminal: Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish. The scope of languages available on Dow Jones and Thomson Reuters is comparable. Collectively, these financial systems approach some one million subscribers in the international investment industry.

Additionally, there are other prominent platforms popular with international investors that include Business Wire in more than a dozen languages, e.g. FactSet and Factiva.

Another important resource that is easily overlooked is the regional and national financial services that lack the profile — but certainly not the credibility or local influence — of their global industry brethren. These information providers can prove to be extremely effective in mapping an international outreach campaign with their pinpoint saturation of key money markets.

Business Wire content is broadly accessible via these respected regional providers, including SIX Information (one of Europe’s largest financial systems); vwd (a major presence in the D/A/CH region); Interfax (the dominant business news service in Russia/CIS); Agência Estado (Brazil’s leading financial news service); awp, the Swiss financial news agency; and Jiji Press, Japan’s leading financial news wire.

Supplementing these premium services, which primarily target professional portfolio managers, retail investors worldwide can routinely track corporate developments via leading financial portals, including such popular sites as Infobolsa, abcbourse, and BFMbusiness. Like Business Wire’s distribution network itself, our online reach continues to be a never-ending work in progress, with pending additions including Il Sole 24 (Italy) and Quick (Japan).

This year’s NIRI conference was entitled “Great Expectations.”  By simply leveraging readily accessible – and comparatively affordable — options, IROs are likely to experience “Great Realizations” in achieving their global outreach goals.


Congratulations to Our Netbook Giveaway Winners!

June 16, 2010

June is always a big month for our industry & Business Wire is fresh from the floors of some of the most important PR & IR conferences of the year. At the shows this year, we discussed our two new products, NewsHQ online newsrooms & InvestorHQ online investor centers, and gave away netbook computers at the NIRI 2010 Annual Conference in San Diego, the IABC 2010 World Conference in Toronto and the CIRI 2010 Annual IR Conference in Ottawa. Congratulations to our winners:

NIRI 2010:
Angela Steinway, Integra Lifesciences
Plainsboro, NJ

IABC 2010:
Lynne Heasman, Quit Group
Wellington, New Zealand

CIRI 2010:
Dmitry Kushnir, Agnico-Eagle Mines
Toronto, Canada

Congrats, all! Conference Month isn’t quite over for us yet…if you’re attending Bulldog Reporter’s Media Relations Summit on site in New York or online on June 28, we’ll see you there!


NIRI National Sessions Miss the Mark on Disclosure

June 14, 2010

– by Michael Becker, SVP, Financial Product Strategy

Michael Becker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Common Sense in Investor Relations

June 4, 2010

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

Neil Hershberg, SVP - Global Media

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

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

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

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

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

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

Among the survey’s key findings:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Upcoming Business Wire Events – May 6 Edition

May 6, 2010

Upcoming Business Wire Events

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

How to Add Video into Marketing, PR and Social Media Programs to Increase Lead Conversion

Hosted by Business Wire Silicon Valley

Business Wire Silicon Valley partners with MEDIAmobz & Visible Gains to host this breakfast and panel discussion on using video to engage and convert leads.  Panelists Linda Crowe, Marketing Consultant, Former Group Manager, Media & Production, Sun Microsystems; Dos Dosanjh, WW Customer Solutions Manager, Marketing, Cisco Digital Media Creative Services, Cisco; Jay Durgan, Head of Business Development, MEDIAmobz; Cliff Pollan, Co-Founder & CEO, VisibleGains; and Mark Rotblat, VP, Business Development, Tube Mogul discuss how to integrate video across marketing channels to increase awareness, lead generation and conversion. The panel will give tips and tricks for engaging video for lead general, as well as share mistakes to avoid. This event is free for all attendees.

Visit the BW Events Page to see a video preview of this event.

Tuesday, May 11 at 8:30 am PST
TechMart Networking Meeting Center
5201 Great America Parkway, Santa Clara, CA 95054
To register: RSVP to Sandy Donnelly at 415-986-4422 x561 or email sandy.donnelly@businesswire.com by May 7

Social Media ROI: Being Seen is Not Enough

Hosted by Business Wire Cleveland [Cincinnati Event]

Your organization has started blogging, tweeting and updating Facebook, but is it working? Like many communicators, you may be unsure how to quantify the success of your social media efforts. Join Business Wire Cleveland and a panel of experts for a discussion on social media ROI measurement. Michael DeAloia of Tech Czar will moderate the panel, which also include Krisa Neher, CEO of Boot Camp Digital, Daniel Lally, VP, Pinger PR at Powers Agency and James Pilcher, Business Projects Reporter at The Cincinnati Enquirer. The panel will give advice on setting goals for your social media campaign and arm you with the tools you need to generate both quantitative and qualitative results. This event is free for all attendees.

Wednesday, May 12 at 8:00 a.m. ET
The Phoenix – Cincinnati Room
812 Race Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
To register: RSVP to Melissa Chambers at 800.769.0220 or email melissa.chambers@businesswire.com by May 5

Media Relations Boot Camp

Hosted by Business Wire Philadelphia

Join Business Wire Philadelphia and a panel of media relations experts for a discussion on getting your news heard over the background noise. Learn about the numerous platforms in today’s communications landscape to reach the media, industry associates, investors & the public. Michael Smith, PhD, Associate Professor of Communication at La Salle University will moderate the panel, which includes Bernard Dagenais, Editor, Philadelphia Business Journal; Mike Armstrong, Business Columnist, PhillyInc Blog Editor, Co-Host of Philadelphia Business Today, Philadelphia Inquirer; Michael Wood, Sr. Manager, Communications, PECO; and Alex Hillman, social technology and community developer, co-founder of IndyHall. The panel will discuss tactics for determining which platforms are best for which audiences, pitching those audiences, the differences between social, mobile and traditional media platforms, and how to use each correctly. This event is free for all attendees.

Wednesday, May 12 at 8:00 a.m. EDT
University City Science Center
Conference Room Fuller A&B, 3711 Market Street, Ste 800, Philadelphia, PA 19104
To register: RSVP to Kate Carr at 610.617.9560 or email kate.carr@businesswire.com

Best Practices for Working with Journalists in an Ever-Changing Media Landscape

Hosted by Business Wire Minneapolis

Join Business Wire Minneapolis & NIRI Twin Cities for this breakfast and a panel discussion with area journalists. Panelists Brad Allen of MinnPost, Dirk DeYoung of The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal; Annie Baxter of MPR, Jason DeRusha of WCCO-TV and Ann Harrington of The Pioneer Press discuss best practices for media relations professionals in today’s changing media landscape. This event is free for Business Wire and NIRI members and $25 for non-members.

Thursday, May 27 at 8:00 a.m. CT
Graves 601 Hotel
601 1st Ave North, Minneapolis, MN 55403
To register: RSVP to Jane Cracraft at 612.376.7979 or email jane.cracraft@businesswire.com by May 14

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


Social Media for IROs: Understanding the Searching and Sharing Ecosystem

November 5, 2009

NIRI Logo

Business Wire’s own Monika Maeckle, Vice President of New Media, voice of @BusinessWire on Twitter, BusinessWired blogger and occasional podcaster, recently wrote an article on social media for IROs for the NIRI’s monthly Investor Relations Update trade publication.  Her piece gives an overview of the current state of social media and what it may mean to Investor Relations professionals.  The magazine is available only to NIRI members, but they have graciously given us permission to republish Monika’s article, which you can find here on DocStoc.


Disclosure Experts To Discuss Surviving IR’s Brave New World in New York Next Week

May 19, 2009

bwupcomingeventsheader2
Each year, Business Wire experts in your area bring local media members and industry thought leaders to your market to discuss today’s most relevant topics, from writing for SEO to the SEC’s new XBRL mandate. Business Wire events are usually free of charge. Here is today’s featured upcoming local Business Wire event:

An Investor Relations Survival Guide: IR Strategies for the New Age of Corporate Transparency and Accountability

Hosted by Business Wire New York

Today’s financial crisis is certain to lead to greater corporate disclosure and accountability standards. Ironically, the definition of transparency itself has become muddied as a result of considerable — and often deliberate — misinformation in the marketplace.

Join Business Wire New York for the first in our national Spring Investor Relations Conference Series, as we bring together a distinguished panel of disclosure experts and thought leaders from diverse perspectives, including legal, corporate, agency and financial media. This free event will feature a discussion on the changing regulatory environment, the role of technology in investor outreach, revisiting Regulation FD and the compliance challenges ahead.

Neil Stewart, Executive Editor of IR Magazine, will moderate the panel, including:

Wednesday, May 27 at 8:30am ET
The Westin New York at Times Square
Third floor ballroom
270 West 43rd Street, New York City, NY 10036
212.201.2700

To register: Please RSVP to Marlie Massena at Marlie.Massena@BusinessWire.com or call 212-752-9600 x1310 by Monday, May 25.

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.


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