Why ditch wire services for Twitter? Goldman Sachs PR head Jake Siewert answers 6 questions

The Wall Street giant is preparing to release its next quarterly earnings via its own website and Twitter, instead of a wire service.

When Goldman Sachs reports its third-quarter earnings on Thursday, the Wall Street bellwether will take the unusual step of using Twitter and its own website to distribute the earnings, instead of newswire services.

The move makes sense for an industry blue chip such as Goldman, but forgoing press release distributors could be detrimental to smaller companies that struggle for eyeballs, IR pros said last week.

PRWeek asked Goldman communications leader Jake Siewert six questions about why his company is foregoing traditional wire services in favor of Twitter.

PRWeek: Is the recent hack of newswire services such as Business Wire, Marketwired, and PR Newswire the reason behind your decision to eschew wire services for Twitter for your earnings release?

Siewert: This was not inspired by the hack. We had been considering this move for more than a year. It is relatively straightforward from a legal and technological perspective for us to just put the earnings on our website and email them to reporters and the wire services and tweet simultaneously.

We have 400,000 Twitter followers, and our website gets millions of page views. So these are widely distributed venues, and in a way it is easier for us because it takes out another step in a process, which is preparing a press release, sending it to an outside service, and having them distribute it.

Generally speaking, this decision was driven by desire to make the process simpler for us. Preparing our earnings release and getting the documents in shape is a complicated process. It takes up a lot of people’s time. So anything we can do to cut one step out of the process saves us hundreds of hours, as well as energy and money.

PRWeek: Was it a hard decision to make?
Siewert: Not at all. Our whole team -- from financial controllers to legal folks -- was strongly supportive. It was just a question of making sure we were ready to go and could execute.

PRWeek: Is this a permanent move?
Siewert: Nothing is permanent. Who knows where the technology will take us? Technology enables us to do a lot of things more directly, whereas we might have hired outside people to do these things in the past.

PRWeek: Are there other changes to your earnings announcement approach?
Siewert: We have always posted online and always put some of the headlines on Twitter and had a link to the website. In some ways, this is nothing new. It is just that we are going to do exclusively that and wanted to make sure people understood that is what they should look for. As always, we will have conference calls with analysts and with our CFO. Everything else is pretty straightforward and will continue the way it has been for years at Goldman.

PRWeek: Will you still work with Business Wire on other announcements?
Siewert: There are definitely times when you want to reach a certain audience. Newswire services have the ability to help you find and target specific audiences from time to time. But for something that is really broadly disseminated, there is a lot of ability for us to do that ourselves. But newswire services still have the ability to do niche targeting of certain press for certain issues. We will continue to work with Business Wire on certain things as occasions arise.

We talk to Business Wire all the time. When we said we would be announcing our earnings via Twitter instead of with their services, they reached out to us and they just wanted to understand our thinking.

PRWeek: Should other companies drop newswire services for social media when announcing earnings?
Siewert: No, I think everyone has to make their own decisions.

I can understand why their business works for people, because it does take the burden off the business. But for us it is a minimal burden to distribute it ourselves.

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