Wires are still a good conduit to investors

Despite recent use of Web disclosure, the best IR strategy uses both traditional and new methods, finds Craig McGuire

The SEC's July decision allowing public companies to leverage Web technologies for disclosure unlocked many options for IR officers.

Currently, traditional newswire distribution is still the go-to method for satisfying regulators. But with each earnings season, more IROs are finding new ways to enhance their release of material information.

Thomas Becktold, SVP of marketing at Business Wire, advises IROs to seek a consultation and have an expert demonstrate how others are successfully leveraging complex technologies, such as XBRL.

XBRL, or eXtensible Business Reporting Language, is the new data standard for more effective sharing of business information. The SEC recently mandated XBRL for earnings reporting starting in 2009.

“We'll help you build an ongoing program incorporating XBRL tagging, and we'll automatically include wider earnings tables because of our XHTML capabilities (another communications standard),” Becktold says.

He also suggests enhancing the IR Web site, where material information can be posted in tandem with wire disclosure. If the newswire companies don't have such capabilities, BW offers online newsroom hosting tools.

“Every day we expand our reach via SEO, social media tags... and a myriad of other methods,” Becktold says. “All of these techniques may seem innovative to an IRO, but the fact of the matter is, they are best practices.”

Embedding new media elements in the IR release enhances messaging, says Scott Mozarsky, chief strategy and development officer for PR Newswire.

For example, PRN's clients use its multimedia news release (MNR) to add video, audio, photos, white papers, and other data to disclose material events, such as earnings and acquisitions.

Mozarsky advocates enhancing investor-facing presentations, MNRs, and IR sites with video. More companies are hosting interactive video results presentations, allowing investors to view and participate. He adds that some PRN clients are even producing video annual reports.

These techniques, though, are not a substitute for using newswires, Mozarsky says.

“In today's world, there are still a large number of investors who do not actively use the Internet or social media to evaluate and track companies,” he says. “The best way to reach the largest pool of potential investors is a disclosure strategy incorporating traditional distribution and newer techniques.”

Some newswires are bundling IR services, like Marketwire's Easy IR product – featuring customizable welcome pages, press rooms, and CEO messages, among other things.

“This is gaining broader acceptance as financial journalists, analysts, investors, and consumers are bypassing the media and going directly to the news release sections of company's Web sites,” says Dagmar King, marketing manager at Marketwire.

Marketwire is also enjoying an uptick in IRO interest for its Social Media 2.0 product, which combines disclosure-based distribution, a social media press release, and a social media pressroom.

“Our goal in introducing this product to the IR market was to help them see the benefit of leveraging social media tagging, multimedia elements... traditional and financial media distribution, and social community distribution of their content together,” King says.

So, from SEO strategies incorporating keywords in material press releases extending pick-up online, to RSS feeds establishing new channels of information flowing to analysts and investors, IROs have more options than ever.

“However, new tools are only as good as the messages they support,” King says. “Don't rely on a tool to overcome a weak or poorly written message.”

Do
Request a consultation to see how other IROs leverage new technologies

Build out your IR media site

Incorporate video to create a compelling presentation

Don't
Replace wire disclosure; enhance it with video components

Rely on a tool to overcome a weak message

Forget that many investors don't use the Internet or social media

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