IR Gets Social
I attended the NIRI 2008 Annual Conference last week in San Diego and quickly realized that the investor relations community is facing the same challenges the PR community faced as the use of social media escalated. There were sessions and discussion groups on the role of social media, and particularly blogs, in IR. As it turns out, there are a handful of companies on the cutting edge that have worked blogging with their investor community into the mix of communications. Dell, with its Dell Shares blog, was the most notable. Sun is also leading in this area, as is Cisco.
In addition to social media, interactive communications is on the rise -- some because of mandates, others because it maybe a more interesting and effective way of reaching investors. Several sessions were dedicated to XBRL and the coming requirement for the use of interactive data -- a way of tagging all of the numbers being provided by an organization so that they may be more easily analyzed and manipulated by investors. There was also a lot of talk of the interactive, or multi-media, annual report. I was particularly impressed by the annual report Invitrogen showed the audience. It was pretty cool to think about clicking on a particular number and having a short voice over explanation of the number accompanying it.
Bottom line is that interactive technologies are clearly having an impact on the IR profession. It was interesting to see my colleagues try and get their arms around when to embrace these new ways of communicating, how much to use them and what the potential pitfalls might be. Given the level of regulation around investor communication, this is certainly an area in which to tread carefully and strategically. At the same time, companies like Dell and Cisco will tell you the benefits are significant and positive. Good luck!
If you have already implemented a blog or some use of social media for investor communications, please share your experience and best practices.