Coming our way from Washington

Broc Romanek, editor of TheCorporateCounsel.net and a platoon of specialized blogs, websites and print newsletters, shared rapid-fire ideas on what’s coming our way from Washington, and the new media, today at a joint meeting of the Kansas City chapters of NIRI and the Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals.

I won’t try to capture it all, but here are a few ideas Broc offered the corporate legal beagles and investor relations folks in Kansas City:

  • The direction of the SEC could shift dramatically when President-elect Obama names a new chairman to the regulatory agency – perhaps a shareholder advocate rather than a Wall Street titan.
  • The “say on pay” bill, which Obama supported last year in the Senate and the House passed, will likely be enacted in 2009 … “a 98% chance.”
  • Public companies (and lawyers) need to get on board with new media technologies because investors and other people are getting their information online. The SEC guidance on website use for disclosure, though vague, gives momentum to more IR communication via the Web.
  • In 2008-09, we’re in a time of experimentation with wildly diverse interactive technologies. Many companies are trying new things: blogs, video annubroc-romanek-11-18-08-niri-kcal reports, Twitter, e-forums, e-proxy. My take is that the value of various tactics will only be known cumulatively, over time. But that’s a reason to think strategically, not bury our heads in the sand.
  • We need to deploy new metrics to evaluate how Investor Relations is performing – e.g., search engine optimization and website analytics to see if we’re reaching our audiences. “Websites are every bit as important as your physical place of business,” says Broc.
  • Shareholder activists and critics are adopting new media to great effect. Being able to respond rapidly and effectively, let’s say in a proxy fight waged online, will depend on IR and Legal being up to speed and engaged in the online communication scene.

Just a sample. Broc was provocative, entertaining and challenging to the conventional ways of thinking about investor communication. Thanks for coming to KC, Broc.

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