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Our Blog: The Podium

IR Website Best Practices: Five Ways to Drive Corporate Storytelling

A great IR website is not only about compliance; it’s also about creating a space investors can look to understand the qualitative aspects of your company’s story. While providing financial data and reports is important, what separates the best sites in the world are those that focus on providing context on the company’s strategy and clarity about its execution and vision.

If you’re thinking about launching a new IR website or refreshing your existing site, here are five best practices that will keep your investors engaged in your corporate story.

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IR Website, Investor Relations, Compliance, Investor Relations Websites, IR Websites, IR Website Design, Website Design, IR Compliance

The Greatest Social Media for Investor Relations Panel Ever*

By Dennis Walsh, Vice President & Director of Social Media

*Okay, so I may be biased since I was the moderator, but this panel session at the NIRI’s 2013 Annual Conference had all the elements necessary to help IR professionals develop a strategy for using social media for IR.

Attendees heard from David Urban, Director of IR at Johnson Controls; RJ Jones, IRO at Zillow; Broc Romanek, editor at TheCorporateCounsel.net; Chris DeMuth, portfolio manager at Rangeley Capital; and Sheryl Joyce VP Marketing & Communications at Q4 Websystems.


The key take away from the panel was that IR professionals should take control of or insert themselves into their company’s social media strategy. Since marketing and PR departments typically "own" social media, the challenge for IR departments is twofold: 1) ensure that all activity is compliant with public company regulations, and 2) ensure the messaging is consistent with the overall IR strategy.

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IR Program Planning, Disclosure, Reg FD, Strategic Messaging, Investor Relations Agency, IR Website, NIRI, Disclosure Policy, IRO, Speaking Engagements, Earnings Call, Social Media, Investor Relations, Investor Relations Firm, Activist Investors

Is the Annual Report a Thing of the Past?

By Maureen Wolff, President and Partner

Annual reports are so 1997.

When the National Investor Relations Institute recently asked me for my thoughts on the public company practice of producing a glossy annual report, the premise of the question was not, “How can companies do this better?” or “Please provide some helpful tips for designing annual reports.” It wasn’t even as minimalist as “What’s the least expensive, most simplified way to produce an annual report?” No, the question was much more fundamental: Why, in this age of technology and pressured IR department budgets, should companies bother to create an annual report at all?

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IR Program Planning, Board Communications, Annual Report, Strategic Messaging, IR Website, IR Budgets, Shareholder Communications, Investor Relations

SEC Gives Social Media for IR Its Blessing

By Dennis Walsh, Vice President & Director of Social Media

The SEC finally has provided guidance on the use of social media for investor relations. The guidance came in a report on its investigation to determine whether Netflix CEO Reed Hasting had violated Reg FD. In a Facebook status update on his personal account, Hastings said Netflix had streamed 1 billion hours of content in June 2012, calling into question whether the post was selective disclosure of material information.

In its report, the SEC clarified that companies can use social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to announce key information in compliance with Reg FD. It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for, but with some key caveats.

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IR Program Planning, Reg FD, Investor Relations Agency, SEC, IR Website, Disclosure Policy, Shareholder Communications, Earnings Call, Social Media, Small-cap IR, Investor Relations, Socialize IR, Earnings, Investor Relations Firm

Preparing for a Social Media Crisis

By David Calusdian, Executive Vice President & Partner

I recently participated as the designated “social media expert” as part of a crisis communications case study session at the 2012 NIRI Southwest regional conference. This year’s conference was held in New Orleans and the session centered on a fictitious publicly held bead manufacturing company (apropos for the conference host city) that found itself suddenly facing a major environmental crisis. During the true-to-life exercise, attendees took on the roles of the company’s corporate communications officers and were tasked with implementing all aspects of the crisis response plan.

In their new roles, the attendees had to make a number of decisions relating to the immediate actions of the fictitious company, “Beignet Beads & Baubles.” For example, should the company proceed with a press conference with the governor announcing a state grant that afternoon? Should management go forward with a scheduled presentation at a major investor conference in New York the next day? Should a planned announcement of a major plant expansion be delayed? As typically happens with a real crisis, the Beignet Beads & Baubles “crisis team-for-a-day” was given an increasing amount of information to complicate their decision-making process.

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IR Program Planning, Reg FD, Strategic Messaging, IR Website, Crisis Communications, Disclosure Policy, Media Relations, Shareholder Communications, Social Media, Investor Relations, Monitoring, Socialize IR, Activist Investors

Social Media + Investor Relations = Socialize IR

By Dennis Walsh, Senior Consultant & Director of Social Media

Let’s face it; you can’t ignore social media any longer…even as part of your investor relations strategy. You were hoping Facebook would go the way of MySpace and Friendster, but it keeps on growing and has even made its way into our world with its initial public offering.

Talk of Twitter used to elicit laughter in the board room. Now, competitors are using it to promote their brand; hedge funds are using it to decide when to make trades; and rumors spread like wildfires over the Twittersphere. Twitter companion site StockTwits has evolved as a popular platform for traders to share investment ideas. Add to that: YouTube, Flickr, SlideShare, LinkedIn, oh my! IR pros certainly put up a good fight, but it’s time to embrace social media…it’s here to stay.

Feeling a little overwhelmed? We’d like to help you with that.

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IR Program Planning, Investor Relations Blog, Reg FD, Strategic Messaging, Sharon Merrill Associates, Investor Relations Agency, IR Website, IPO, Social Media, Small-cap IR, Investor Relations, Socialize IR, Investor Relations Firm

Developing an Investor Relations Program for an IPO Company [Video]

By Maureen Wolff, President and Partner

Companies planning to go public need to be able to hit the ground running on the day of the IPO pricing with an investor relations program. In order to prepare, Sharon Merrill President and Partner Maureen Wolff provides tips on what to do before and after the S-1 filing in the videos below.

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Investor Presentation, IR Program Planning, Disclosure, Strategic Messaging, Investor Relations Agency, Investor Meetings, IR Website, Guidance, Board Structure, Disclosure Policy, IPO, Investor Relations, Earnings, Investor Relations Firm

What Makes for a Successful Investor Relations Program?

By Dennis Walsh, Senior Consultant & Director of Social Media

In many of the StreetScope® perception audits we conduct, we often inquire about what makes a successful investor relations program. Is the Street satisfied with the level of outreach? Is there something specifically a firm can do to enhance its communications? Being the investor relations enthusiast that I am, I’m always hoping to discover an innovative idea that we have yet to implement.

However, more often than not, the responses are all pretty simple. Wall Street wants access to management. They want informative answers to their questions. Many even want an investor day that describes the company’s long-term growth strategy. So old-fashioned (I jest)! What about having an active Twitter/StockTwits account (follow me) or Facebook page, a cool management video or an interactive annual report?

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IR Program Planning, Corporate Access, IR Website, IRO, Shareholder Communications, Social Media, Investor Relations

IRO-zilla and the Earnings Call

There is a popular cable network TV show called Bridezillas that often depicts women planning their wedding day as high-strung, unreasonable and at times displaying jaw-dropping outrageous behavior. Of course, this makes for great reality TV, but at times I find myself sympathizing with these women. After all, it will be the biggest day of their lives – it had better go as planned!

Similarly, the quarterly earnings call is one of the biggest days in the career of investor relations professionals and their companies. A seamless call is an IRO’s opportunity to shine. A call riddled with issues will damage his or her credibility. These calls require weeks of careful planning to ensure that the right messages are communicated effectively to shareholders. However, much like the bridezillas have to rely on other people to design a dress, coordinate the flower arrangements, bake the cake, etc., IROs must work with a variety of outside providers for the services necessary to facilitate an earnings call. With so much riding on the line, there is no shame in taking on the IRO-zilla role and demanding, rather, clearly stating needs and expectations. The IRO’s professional reputation is at stake.

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IR Vendors, IR Program Planning, Investor Relations Agency, IR Website, NIRI, IRO, IR Budgets, Earnings Call, Social Media, Investor Relations, Earnings, Investor Relations Firm

It’s Time to Face Social Media for Investor Relations

“But social media for investor relations won’t work for my company!”

The use of social media is radically changing the way our society communicates – and the investment community is no exception. But many investor relations officers still refuse to use social media as an IR tool. I’ve heard any number of reasons why “social media for IR won’t work for my company.” Our business model is primarily B2B. The retail shareholder base is small. Our market cap is less than $500 million. My corporate counsel tends to be conservative regarding disclosure. Notwithstanding the huge volume of research that supports the use of social media in IR, I think it would be easier to land a lunch with Warren Buffett than to convince the typical IRO to set up a Twitter account.

I recently spent a whirlwind of a week focused on social media in investor relations. The NIRI Westchester Connecticut chapter invited me to serve on a panel discussion entitled, “Investor Relations and Twitter – To Do or Not to Do?” with Darrell Heaps, president & CEO at Q4 Websystems (@darrellheaps), Dan Dykens, co-president at Meet the Street (@meetthestreet), and Doug Chia, senior counsel & assistant corporate secretary at Johnson & Johnson (@dougchia). I was pleased to see that more than half the room had at least been on Twitter. Two questions seemed to preoccupy the audience: “what should we know about using Twitter,” and “how can we use it as part of an effective IR strategy?”

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Disclosure, Strategic Messaging, IR Website, Crisis Communications, NIRI, Disclosure Policy, Twitter, IRO, Media Relations, Speaking Engagements, Shareholder Communications, Social Media, Investor Relations, Monitoring, Investor Relations Firm

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Perceptions Matter

How do you ensure that investors clearly understand your strategy, growth drivers and market position? The most effective way is through a perception study. By periodically taking the investment community’s pulse you can avoid the knowledge gaps and misperceptions that hurt valuation. Download our free whitepaper, Why Perceptions Matter, to learn more.

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