“Right Sizing” and Media Layoffs Make for Timely Webinar: From the News Cycle to the Spin Cycle

February 13, 2009

The dreary news just keeps on coming.

News cycle to spin cycle?

“Right sizing” at PR firms,  reporters laid off at most print dailies…could it possibly be true that Seattle may soon become the first U.S. city without a daily print newspaper? My afternoon walk to Starbucks brought me face-to-face with a reporter friend who confided “I’m applying for a PR job.”   She’s not the only one.

Surely we’re facing tough times in the media business.   Our webinar next week, “From the  News Cycle to the Spin Cycle,” will tackle the topic head on.   What happens when reporters move into public relations?

The panel of former journalists–Bill Day of Valero Energy Corp., Lai Ling Jew of Fenton Communications, Lynn Kettleson of Kettleson Group and David Postman of Vulcan–represent a broad cross section of hard working media folks from all three coasts.   They’ve lived to tell tales of crossing the media aisle and finding a satisfying professional life beyond journalism.   Lai Ling Jew, the only woman at NBC embedded with the military during the initial phase of the Iraq war, concentrates her energies these days on promoting the good deeds of nonprofit organizations.   “I feel more like a journalist than ever,” she said in a pre-webinar conference call.

Don’t miss this FREE, timely webinar, which we provide to our clients and colleagues as a public service in understanding.  Registration is free

From the News Cycle to the Spin Cycle:  What I learned on the way to becoming a Public Relations Professional

Thursday, February 19, 2009

10 AM Pacific/Noon Central/1 PM Eastern

Click here to register.

Media Comment on the Value of the Newswires

February 11, 2009

In a blog post called “Who needs press releases, anyway?”, Robert MacMillan at Reuters has taken notice of companies who aren’t including their full financial reports and other material information in press releases – and in some cases, not issuing press releases at all.

We’ve commented on this issue recently as well. Take a look at MacMillan’s thoughts for a media perspective on the practice.

Dominic: “We’re Just Not That Into You”

February 6, 2009

While we are not in the habit of engaging in discourse with the blogging equivalent of someone standing in the middle of Park Avenue screaming at the top of his lungs that the world will end unless we sinners repent, it is amusing to us that Mr. Dominic Jones seems to become more and more unhinged as we, as is our right, continually highlight and crystallize the many valid benefits of disclosure via our simultaneous news distribution platform.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and we would be happy to engage in a serious, reality based dialogue with anyone who wishes to discuss the case for website disclosure.  We’ve done so numerous times, in a highly appropriate and professional manner, with the likes of the SEC, the New York Stock Exchange and Sun Microsystems. Though we may not always agree, we all still respect each other.

However, let us be clear that we will not, from this point forward, get ourselves involved in any conversations, online or otherwise, with any self-styled disclosure evangelists who appear unable to have a reasoned, mature, philosophical discussion about a topic on which we disagree, having instead to resort to childish tantrums of name-calling (surprised we haven’t seen “liar, liar pants on fire” from him yet) and even resorting to characterizing highly respected members of the financial media who do not share his opinions as “pimps”.  We choose not to muck around in that mud.

So let us conclude by saying we believe in the value, validity and integrity of our business, and would gladly continue to go into great detail about that with anyone who wishes to hold a reasoned, adult conversation on the topic.  And if, in the end, we cannot convince you of our convictions, we promise not to call you a liar.

Gregg A. Castano, Co-Chief Operating Officer, Business Wire

Earnings Tables Needed in Releases Say Market Participants

February 5, 2009

With earnings season in full swing, it’s a good time for us to reiterate a critical best-practice issue:  include earnings tables in your press release.  Notice-and-access, the practice of omitting tabular data from a press release in lieu of a link to the data is clearly a step in the wrong direction. 

We have an ongoing dialogue with the major financial wires, news services, regulatory authorities, investor systems, information portals and investor relations officers about this and other disclosure issues to ensure Business Wire delivers the type of content market participants want. 

The incontrovertible evidence is clear: key market participants want releases to include financial tables (‘face financials,’ at the minimum). Additionally, issuers reap tangible economic benefits by including-and broadly disseminating-core financial data to the investment universe. A recent academic study statistically validates the significant return on investment for listed companies that are pro-active in their investor outreach.

In a trading environment where latency and milli-seconds are often critical to success, notice-and-access releases are unnecessary impediments that are disruptive to the seamless workflow procedures favored by both institutional and individual investors.

Providing core financial data to editors, analysts and investors in a freely accessible press release—transmitted simultaneously and in real-time—consolidates material information in a readily digestible format, streamlining both availability and analysis.

An informal survey of key market observers lends independent credence to the argument:

“We would very much like to see the tables included as part of a release,” said Rick Stine, senior editor, Americas, Dow Jones News Services. “Companies that include truncated data in the text of a release are often highlighting the numbers they want you to see, not the GAAP numbers that they are ultimately required to report. We believe it is important for them to continue reporting in the easiest fashion possible the GAAP numbers. Having to make people take extra steps to find them to me isn’t a great idea. I do think convenience for readers is important.”

Martin Howell, news editor, company news, the Americas, Reuters News, said, “We always need the table—it helps us on speed, it helps us to be fair, it helps us to compare and contrast, it helps us to get beyond the spin. Why would anyone drop the tables unless they had something to hide?”

The National Investor Relations Institute [NIRI] arrived at similar conclusions in its recent study of industry “best practices.”  NIRI’s soon-to-be published Earnings Release Standards of Practice makes the following recommendations:

  1. Content    a. Provide sufficient line-item information for the investor to follow the calculation from revenue to net income    b. Use a consistent format to display shares outstanding
  2. Provide a complete income statement, with current and year-ago quarter numbers, and current year-to-date and year-ago year-to-date comparable period numbers. To avoid confusion, label numbers as audited or unaudited, particularly at year-end if the released numbers are not yet audited and could change in the 10-K filing. Income statement should include number of shares outstanding, fully diluted and basic, for each publicly listed stock
  3. Provide a complete balance sheet, with current quarter numbers and end of prior-year numbers, labeled as audited or unaudited
  4. Provide cash flow tables, if possible. Both the CFA Institute and the SEC’s CIFiR Committee recommend inclusion of cash flow tables. However, some companies note that this information may not be finalized at the time the earnings release is issued.
  5. Provide consistent supplemental company or segment information as appropriate.

There also are financial rewards for issuers that are truly committed to communicating with investors.  Eugene Soltes, a doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, found a statistically significant relationship between greater dissemination of company-generated news and corresponding capital market benefits, including lower bid-ask spread, increased trading volume and lower idiosyncratic volatility. A key finding: “A reduction in trading costs due to greater dissemination may also contribute to a lower cost of capital.”

As public companies move to adopt recent SEC mandates to XBRL tag financial data, the need and value of these tables will only increase.

Our focus has been on delivering value; we can say with both pride and certainty that we provide tremendous value at a fair price, while also playing a key role in promoting market efficiency. 

We take great pride in having the industry’s only fully XHTML news platform, ready to deliver XBRL tagged information to market participants.

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


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