Editorial - IR must make the most of FD ruling

Imagine the scene. You’re a VP of IR at a tech company. You arrange for a group of analysts to come visit your new plant, to inspect new machinery and meet and greet some of the executives. Is that fair? Is it material?

Imagine the scene. You’re a VP of IR at a tech company. You arrange for a group of analysts to come visit your new plant, to inspect new machinery and meet and greet some of the executives. Is that fair? Is it material?

Imagine the scene. You’re a VP of IR at a tech company. You arrange

for a group of analysts to come visit your new plant, to inspect new

machinery and meet and greet some of the executives. Is that fair? Is it

material?



This is just one of the many IR practices that will now come under

internal scrutiny before it’s considered, following the recent ruling on

regulation FD (fair disclosure) announced by the SEC.



On the surface, the ruling looks like a considerable setback for IR and

for communication in general. According to a study by the National

Investor Relations Institute, released on the eve of the ruling, 42% of

respondents will probably limit communications practices and 12% said

they would limit practices significantly. Fear of legal repercussions

has always been the undoing of good communications, and there is a

danger that IR will become strangled by interference from lawyers and

communication with external IR counsel also will be curtailed.



But such fears can’t stand in the way, and IR professionals will have to

make their case with both renewed evidence of its importance and of the

repercussions of silence. The FD ruling is certain to make the job

harder in one sense. But it will provide greater clarity. If in doubt,

the motto should be ’tell all’ - not ’tell no one.’



And the good news is most IR professionals are already responding

positively: 61% of NIRI survey respondents said they are now Webcasting,

compared with 48% six months ago. Another 22% said they planned to

Webcast conference calls within the next year.





Stop moaning and start recruiting



Council of PR Firms prexy Jack Bergen calls the on-campus efforts to

date in recruiting non-PR majors ’relatively haphazard.’ We have another

word - pathetic.



Agencies moan incessantly about the dearth of qualified candidates, but

it’s clear that most firms have done little to expand recruiting

nets.



It’s akin to a couch potato saying he can’t find a girlfriend. ’You’re

complaining, but what are you doing to solve the problem?’ asks one

PRSSA leader. Last fall PRWeek spoke to career counselors at top schools

like Penn and Princeton, who lamented the absence of PR recruiters on

campus.



’There’s no PR recruiting here, and that’s sad since there would be a

huge interest on the part of students,’ said one.



As our feature (p14) shows, things are getting better. But is it too

late? The financial services companies, accounting and management

consulting firms already have vast networks of contacts at all the elite

schools.



Their recruiting mantra is, ’If you’re bright, we’ll talk to you.’ It’s

high time PR firms adopt this approach.



The Council erred by first targeting MBAs, who obviously have less

inclination to enter PR than someone fresh out of college. The Council’s

Plan B - recruit at 25 liberal arts schools that don’t offer PR majors -

is a good step, but it should have been step one. It won’t be easy, and

tangible results won’t come right away. ’The best efforts are where

there’s a longer-term strategy,’ says one career counselor. But every

college student who chooses PR over law school today is worth five or 10

recruits down the line.



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