In an excellent NIRI webinar today on “Trends in Technology and Disclosure,” investor relations officers of three real-life companies tell their nitty-gritty stories of implementing corporate blogs, financial news releases via website (as opposed to sending the numbers out over a wire service), and enriched company IR websites:
Sun Microsystems has developed a rich portal of investor information. On this IR page the investor finds a wealth of data, including a complete array of traditional data such as news releases, SEC filings and so on. Attractive graphics guide your eye through the page and call attention to the most important items, such as recent earnings. Also, investors can sign up to get IR news via RSS feeds or Twitter. The portal is a best-in-class example for IROs to benchmark against in evaluating their own websites.
By the way, Sun IRO Paul Ziots noted on the call that the web portal was not called into action for the past week’s media speculation about takeover talks between IBM and Sun. That falls under a strict policy of “not commenting on rumors or speculation,” in person or online, he said.
Microvision has created a corporate blog, “The Displayground,” a word play on the company’s product focus on miniature video and display gear. It’s a multi-author blog that mixes marketing and corporate information – from videos showing off gear at a recent tech conference to direct investor communications.
An example of the latter: One week before a Microvision earnings call, IRO Tiffany Bradford posted to the blog asking investors for questions to address on the call. Good tactic – and it drew about 40 responses. The management team addressed those questions on the call, and Tiffany followed up with another blog post giving a written FAQ from that exercise. She sees the blog as an efficient way to provide nonmaterial information to a far-flung base of individual investors.
And BGC Partners, an electronic inter-dealer brokerage, has taken the SEC at its word by directing investors to the company’s website for earnings and other financial announcements in satisfaction of Regulation FD. (See July 30 post on IR Cafe and the SEC’s August 2008 guidance on use of company websites.)
BCG announced in early February that it would discontinue sending out the numbers via wire services – and send only a short release announcing that investors can find the earnings at the BCG website (with links to the full release).
IRO Jason McGruder noted that the company took considerable care to make the full-text and full-number release accessible at various landing pages, available through search engines and the like. BCG lawyers kept the company’s full safe-harbor disclaimer, even in the release-announcing-there’s-a-release.
So people out there are implementing IR 2.0 approaches. The webinar is well worth listening to – a replay should be available soon at the NIRI website. I found it useful to hear how these three companies worked through questions of how interactive tools help them carry out their strategies for communicating with investors.