IR & Compliance

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  • WHITE PAPER

    The Evolving Role of Investor Relations in Competitive Intelligence

    Effectiveness,efficiency and strategic importance An Investor Relations Officer (IRO) resides, uniquely, as the nexus between senior management and the outside world. Maintaining and nurturing the dialogue between the company and the capital markets, including current and potential shareholders and financial analysts, is at the core of the IRO’s responsibility. Like any conversation, it is a two-way street with the IRO articulating their company’s key messages, milestones and accomplishments while carrying back the financial market’s views about the company. This dialogue extends beyond an IRO’s individual company to encompass its industry competitors. Call it competitive intelligence, market intelligence, media monitoring or something else, a successful intelligence gathering function shares a few common characteristics that translate into effectiveness, efficiency and strategic importance. This white paper explores the evolving role of IR in competitive intelligence and how some industry thought leaders across Canada are taking it on as part of the IR mandate. The responsibility lies with IR IROs’ competitive information gathering typically starts with comparative valuation data and stock performance, as well as commentary on industry, product and market trends and performance. Because IROs are situated in a daily environment where information of all types can flow broadly and rapidly across multiple channels, they have the opportunity to make unique contributions to competitive-intelligence gathering within the organization. IR sits very much in the flow of strategically important information, ranging from financial performance and competitive positioning of peers to industry trends and the value investors are willing to place on different management strategies and actions. Sometimes, this information is available nowhere else. While this intelligence-gathering role has been carried out informally by IROs in the past, the responsibility is increasingly becoming a formal part of the IRO’s job description. A recent survey of IROs by the Canadian Investor Relations Institute (CIRI) found this aspect of the role has grown to be a recognized part of the IR team’s mandate, with 95 percent of IROs reporting that they regularly gather information on their company’s market competitors. Nearly two thirds of IROs report that their intelligence-gathering effort feeds senior management’s strategic discussions and decision-making, while 61 percent say it informs IR strategy and 22 percent report regularly providing competitive intelligence to board members. CIRI also found that 59 percent spend less than C$10,000 in gathering and analyzing market competitive intelligence. That level of spending points less to the use of outside consultants and more to an in-house approach that also uses tools – from external databases to monitoring services – that cut down on the IR team’s time commitment to gather, evaluate and pass along what is relevant from this stream of information. Here 83 percent of IROs report that competitive-intelligence gathering requires less than 25 percent of one in-house, full-time employee’s time. While the usual sources of intelligence gathering include external databases such as Bloomberg and Ipreo, news releases and competitors’ websites, IROs also regularly monitor analyst notes and competitor conference calls. The third most commonly cited source of competitive intelligence in the CIRI survey is competitors’ investor conference presentations. Here IROs are uniquely positioned, able to sit in the audience and not just hear management’s presentation but also investors’ questions and discussion. While this intelligence-gathering role is an important part of the IRO’s portfolio, executing it well requires a thoughtful and deliberate approach. As distribution of news, opinion, data and analytics has moved online, the flow of information is seemingly more easily accessible than ever, but keeping on top of what’s relevant and shutting out the noise has never been more challenging - nor more urgent. Effectiveness: collaboration is critical A truly effective competitive-intelligence effort is collaborative, working across the organization, sharing information and expertise. Instead of flooding senior management with a daily deluge of undifferentiated data, applying internal expertise adds context and insight, turning information into intelligence. For IR departments specifically, success in competitive intelligence is defined by the value of the information it provides to internal audiences. Whether on tactical or strategic issues, the IR team should aim to influence corporate decision-making through the unique information and insight it can deliver. IR teams that pull this off can expect their status to rise within corporations by acting as a trusted adviser to other departments and the C-suite. Greg Secord, vice president of investor relations at Ontario-based software company OpenText Corp, takes a collaborative approach to competitive intelligence that extends the company’s reach and understanding and keeps him on top of trends he might not otherwise be aware of when talking with analysts and investors. “COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE CAN’T BE SILOED IN AN ORGANIZATION,” SAID SECORD. “EACH DEPARTMENT IS STRONGER IN ONE AREA OF EXPERTISE.” Each department needs to share both the information and importantly, what it means to the business. For example, Secord sits in on all conversations with technology industry analysts such as Gartner Group and International Data (IDC), which track the software industry on behalf of vendors and end-users with the same thoroughness and energy that analysts track companies for investors. Having this level of insight helps inform Secord’s dialogue with investors at a much higher level, he says. In addition, collaboration is reinforced by physical proximity, as IR sits right next to the corporate development team so they are continually sharing ideas and information, each informing the other of its particular view of the competitive landscape. Sharing information collaboratively benefits other parts of the organization and can also strengthen the IR effort. For example, while Secord’s team focuses on financial media and analysts, the marketing team provides a steady stream of input on sources it is more familiar with, including trade press and social media. While monitoring social media such as Twitter or Facebook ranks as low priority with some IR teams, they ignore it at their peril. We can look no further than its importance in marketing and crisis management to see its impact. This is where OpenText’s collaborative model constitutes a smart approach in alerting the company to risks it might otherwise miss. Estelle Métayer, principal and founder of competitive and strategic intelligence firm Competia, thinks IROs ignoring social media may be inadvertently creating vulnerabilities. “The Fidelitys and BlackRocks of this world are very vocal online,” she points out. “Who is listening to that in a company?” Digitally savvy directors will be monitoring it themselves and expecting the company to be on top of social media chatter. “IR COULD PLAY A REALLY GREAT ROLE HERE… PROVIDING INTELLIGENCE TO THE BOARD THAT WOULD BE NEW AND STRIKING. I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT SHARING INDIVIDUAL TWEETS, BUT [RATHER] THE ANALYSIS ON SENTIMENT, AND WHICH PARTS OF THE WORLD FAVOR YOUR COMPANY OR NOT.” Métayer says that insight could be useful, especially in preparing for the annual shareholder meeting, where a social media discussion might provide an early warning on hot-button topics that otherwise might catch management by surprise. She said that when monitoring shareholder sentiment, Twitter has been useful and Facebook is growing in value rapidly. Efficiency requires focus and discipline In a 24/7 news-saturated environment where ‘noise’ can drown out what is important, efficiency comes from being selective and disciplined about which sources of information are fed into the effort, as well as what rises to significance that merits landing on senior management’s radar. In addition, an efficient competitive-intelligence effort is aware of the timing of increasing surveillance in response to market and company-specific developments. Kristen Dickson, vice president at National Equicom and group leader of its technology and financial services IR consultancy, says being timely and tuned in when it matters most is as important as knowing what to pay attention to. She deploys a mediamonitoring tool from CNW, a Cision company, that is particularly important when clients undergo important transitions, such as M&A transactions. By tracking company, competitor and industry mentions to stay on top of what’s trending when a client is in the middle of a transaction or a crisis, Dickson can ensure the company’s messages are resonating. In addition, vigilant monitoring helps her team members track conflicting messages that may be part of the overall news and opinion flow, so they can decide what counter-messages need to be raised. While selectivity is important, it needs to be applied thoughtfully, Dickson argues, cautioning that it would be irresponsible not to consider all sources of information that potentially will reach the investment community. It would be naïve to assume institutional investors don’t read general news media, but the key to efficiently monitoring the deluge of information is to understand who each outlet’s target audience is. “THE GLOBE AND MAIL RANKS HIGHER THAN AN INDUSTRY NEWSLETTER THAT IS NOT GOING TO END UP IN INVESTORS' HANDS,” DICKSON OBSERVES. For time-stressed IROs with limited staff resources and multiple demands, the need to focus an intelligence-gathering function is imperative. Greg Waller, vice president of IR and strategic analysis at Vancouver-based mining conglomerate Teck Resources, describes how he aligns his efforts with what is most important and ignores the rest. While the marketing and sales departments keep a close watch on demand for the company’s metals and mining output, Waller focuses his attention on any intelligence about the investments Teck’s competitors are making to increase their own capacity. This information is vital to a resources company, Waller explains, because understanding competitors’ investment intentions can drive the timing of investment decisions within his own company. Waller views it as a part of every senior manager’s job to stay, in any department, informed of vital competitive information. Each part of the organization plays a role in assessing and passing along information, whether it’s the corporate development group looking for acquisition candidates, marketing that is tracking demand drivers, or a dedicated internal library that tracks industry data. While he does not pass along every analyst note that crosses his desk, the expectation that important information will be shared across the company means senior management trusts him when he shares an analyst’s report and suggests that it’s something his management team should pay attention to. Strategic importance: delivering informed intelligence Strategic impact derives from aligning the intelligence-gathering effort with the company’s most important initiatives, opportunities and challenges, from corporate development priorities and product strategies to competitive positioning and financial performance. Competitive information is used to inform disclosure practice and policy, says Yvette Lokker, CEO of CIRI. For example, if competitors’ disclosures vary widely either in scope or content, that gap becomes a topic for disclosure committee deliberations. In addition, if competitors were talking about different drivers in the marketplace, she would look at that and see how it might affect messaging in clients’ quarterly earnings announcements. Strategic impact is why OpenText’s Secord argues IR is the natural home for competitive intelligence. Within his four-person group, he has one analyst responsible for monitoring the news stream across the Bloomberg terminal on behalf of the entire company. Because this responsibility resides within IR, his group can do more than just distribute data. By continuously monitoring what competitors are telling investors and how the financial markets perceive competitive positioning across the industry, his group is in a unique position to add strategic context. “We are so tied in to corporate strategy, we can identify if something changes that may be close to our strategy or may be completely different,” he says. While it may be a subtle difference, Secord argues that the ability to add context is important at the highest level. “That’s how you take the noise out,” he explained. There is an additional dimension to competitive-intelligence gathering that goes right to the heart of how the IRO’s role is perceived by the investment community. When the conversation moves beyond your own company performance, Secord says, investors look to IR as the subject level experts within their industry, able to discuss competitive differentiators among all their peers, market trends and disruptors. This enhanced role elevates the conversation to a strategic level and brings really great value to IR in his opinion. Competitive intelligence: the IRO’s evolving role As the pace of change across virtually every industry continues at an unprecedented rate, the need to make sense of developments and gain perspective on what’s next has never been more important. Investor relations, positioned among the most strategically important flows of information, has a unique opportunity to play this important role by focusing competitive-intelligence gathering with an eye to its effectiveness, efficiency and strategic impact.

  • CASE STUDY

    IR Best Practices to Weather an Economic Storm

    While the principles of good investor relations remain largely unchanged through boom and bust times, communicating in an economic downturn, particularly delivering bad or unfavourable news, can often be a challenge for Investor Relations Officers (IROs). This whitepaper includes insights from a number of seasoned IROs regarding the importance of communications as well as the best practices concerning what information to communicate, when to communicate and, critically, how to communicate the news effectively. IR Best Practices to Weather an Economic Storm discusses: - How to best communicate during an economic recession - Tactics to effectively deal with delivering bad news to investors - The best strategies for continuing good IR practices with a limited budget Get your whitepaper today and discover best practices to navigate through an economic storm.

  • CASE STUDY

    PhRMA Increases Blog Readership & Reaches Broader Audiences with Content Syndication

    COMPANY OVERVIEW PhRMA, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, represents leading innovative biopharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies. PhRMA is devoted to advancing public policies in the U.S. and around the world to support innovative medical research, help patients access needed medicines today and provide hope for the treatments and cures of tomorrow. CHALLENGE Growing Readership and Reaching a Broader Audience for Organization’s Blog One of PhRMA’s key channels for engaging with influencers and stakeholders is its blog: The Catalyst. A team of writers helps execute on the organization’s commitment to generate expert and in-depth content daily, making The Catalyst a top content site in the biopharmaceutical research industry. With the consistent stream of high-value, new content posted on The Catalyst blog each week, PhRMA came to PR Newswire to find new ways to continue to develop its content strategy by attracting and diversifying their readership. “Our goal with this campaign was to grow readership and reach a broader audience: people beyond our traditional readers or our followers on social media,” said Allyson Funk, director of communications at PhRMA. “We wanted a distribution strategy that would get our content to that broader audience.” As part of an integrated content and marketing strategy, PhRMA worked with PR Newswire to begin sending out releases syndicating blog posts across PR Newswire’s industry leading content distribution and promotion network, with the overall goal of increasing blog traffic and brand exposure. APPROACH A Data Driven Approach to Syndicated Content In building out their plan, PhRMA’s execution and evaluation was all based on an A/B testing approach. Over a span of four weeks, PhRMA syndicated blog content by distributing posts over PR Newswire’s network. The main goal of this approach was driving more traffic to the main blog page. The following four weeks, PhRMA created and tested a strategy which they named the “Week in Review” release. This series compiled all published blog posts of the week in one release, highlighting them in a newsletter style format. The objective was to provide audience with a summary view and drive more traffic to individual blog posts. For both tests, PhRMA kept a consistent strategy regarding the format of its releases following PR Newswire’s best practices. Headlines were short and eye-catching. Each release included a call-to-action early in the release, to drive readers to the main blog page or blog articles. PhRMA also included non-static, multimedia elements (photos and videos) in their content, which significantly improved release pick-up. “We learned that a post with a graphic or video performed better, and link placement really did make a difference in generating clicks on a call-to-action,” said Funk. All releases were sent to PR Newswire’s online distribution network, which includes industry targeting and more than 4,300 websites. Following the A/B testing, PhRMA conducted in-depth analysis of what was driving clicks, what was successful and what needed to be modified moving forward. PhRMA concluded that while both options worked well, syndicating their blog content was the better strategy. “Since we respond to time sensitive news and current events, and report on important industry news, we agreed that the best option for this campaign was to syndicate our blog posts,” said Funk. “This allows us to share content as relevant events happen rather than waiting to highlight it in the ‘Week in Review’ series, which we continue to utilize as a feature on our blog.” “We learned that a post with a graphic or video performed better, and link placement really did make a difference in generating clicks on a call-to-action.” — Allyson Funk DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, PhRMA RESULTS Increased Readership, Broader Audience & Compelling Outcomes - Increase in media pick-up on blog post topics - Substantial increase in blog traffic from target audiences - High Industry Engagement Scores: Based on data retrieved from Visibility Reports, a comprehensive release performance report generated by PR Newswire, PhRMA’s trial content compelled readers to act. With an average engagement score of 80 (on a scale of 1 – 100) and a maximum score of 100 on a blog release with video, the content largely out-performed releases on similar topics within the industry. - High and steady level of online visibility (see graph below): “We have definitely been successful in broadening our readership and reaching our target audience,” said Funk. “After distributing videos or infographics, we can see who is viewing those multimedia assets in our report. Every time we look at the report, it shows views by the exact audience we are targeting – we can see views from government agencies, companies and trade associations that we want to reach.” FUTURE PL ANS Keep successful campaign in place and refine strategy through more testing With the success of the trial, PhRMA plans on continuing to syndicate its blog content through the end of the year while working on perfecting the day and time of distribution through more testing and editorial planning. Increasing the readership of a company or organization’s blog content is key to driving brand visibility and establishing a brand as a thought leader in its industry. Funk summed up the experience by saying, “PR Newswire is more than just a place to distribute press releases – they are also a partner who can help us drive traffic to our content and build awareness for our issues.”

  • WHITE PAPER

    Make Your Product Launch the Start for a Multichannel Content Promotion Plan

    Companies bring new products and services to market every day. They have invested in R&D, surveyed their customers and researched market trends for needs and opportunities. All of this is significant, extensive work. And when it’s time for you to release your new product to market, it is just as important to invest in planning an effective product launch. The best way to garner exposure for your product is a calculated mix of strategies and tools. Today, your launch plan is likely to center on unique, high-quality content that will resonate with your target clients, prospects and industry leaders. With compelling content and a multi-channel marketing strategy, you will be able to build awareness, attract customers, drive them through the sales funnel and achieve revenue objectives. Research that PR Newswire commissioned from CMI, however, found that a content distribution/promotion plan that includes paid methods is often what separates the effective content marketers from the less successful ones (60% to 29%).1 This paper will help you evaluate your content distribution strategy and consider whether you have tapped all the channels that will help you make your product launch a success. To get started, let’s take a look at a product launch use case. A technology company was readying a major update to its small business offering, which consolidated customer service applications into one platform. At the same time, the sales team noted that during the last two quarters, new customer signups were slowing—a red flag for both the success of the new product, and the company. It was decided that the launch would coincide with an effort to build a user community of small business owners. To launch the product and the user community, a newly formed content and community team came up with a content strategy plotted against the buyer’s journey of their target audience of small (under 100 employees) business owners. Then, working with the marketing team, they laid out a tactical roadmap to engage small business owners with a regular cadence of communications. To accommodate the different channels and the different stages of the buyer and customer experience, the content strategy included many different content types and formats. - Product Content-Demos, user advocacy stories and ROI calculators. - Research-Exclusive survey commissioned and designed to be chopped up for use in various channels. - User Content-Surveys and contests that could be reformatted into other content, e.g., blog posts. - Multimedia-Each category of content included photos, videos and infographics, ready for sharing in multiple channels. The content and community team then mapped out how the product launch announcement and supporting content would be used in the different channels. - Website-The user community was set up on the company’s website, providing a home for users to communicate with each other and the company’s Subject Matter Experts, and a library with content crafted with the small business owner in mind. - Blog-The team increased the frequency of posts, and focused on best practices for the community. - Application-The product was designed to provide access to the community content, putting this information close at hand. - Social-The new content and community team set up an editorial calendar for its own social channels, and reevaluated how it was participating in social conversations, and built a plan for outreach to influencers. - Press Releases-The corporate communications team avoided a "one and done" product launch announcement, and sketched out a steady rhythm of messages—all including multimedia—about product releases, content, and community milestones. - Media Outreach-As part of the communications plan, the corporate communications team did targeted outreach, crafting a few special “news hooks” for each announcement to drive the earned media coverage that builds awareness. Some of the resulting coverage was licensed and added into the content strategy. - Influencer Outreach-The content and community team also identified a handful of influential members of the community and brought their voices into the program via the blog and community site. - Email-The demand generation group designed an email nurture program, aligned to the complete customer lifecycle. Product launch and update messages were seeded into the program, which was segmented by audience industry. - Digital Advertising-The advertising agency designed its program around both the product and community content. For example, the PPC program bought keywords around product features and on the small business themes and issues that the content covered. - Content Syndication-The agency also put together a plan to share product and community content via a content syndication network. - Webinars-The content and community team organized two streams of events. One series was for all comers and covered issues of general interest to the small business community. The second had a "VIP guest list" only for subscribers, influencers and registered community members, providing insights gleaned from actual usage of the customer service platform. - Sales-The marketing team used the product launch announcement in its outreach to customers and prospects, as well as some content “reserved” just for use in customer conversations and communications. - And don't forget Measurement-Each tactical channel had metrics identified and tracking established so that all the teams could assess what was successful, and refine their programs as the product launch and community building plan moved forward. This example illustrates that a product launch should not be looked at as a one off event or single communication point. It’s an opportunity to establish a stream of messages to more fully integrate your product into your target client community, and establish your company as a trusted resource and advisor in key markets. Your next product launch is your chance to strengthen your messaging and communications plan, build relationships with your audiences and put your product on track for success. With compelling content and a multichannel marketing strategy, you will be able to build awareness, attract customers, drive them through the sales funnel and achieve revenue objectives. To maximize the different channels and the different stages of your customer’s experience, your content strategy should include a range of content types and formats. PR NEWSWIRE SOLUTIONS PR Newswire’s portfolio of services and solutions helps communicators of all stripes achieve their communications goals—from building awareness with new audiences and gaining media pickup, to managing reputation and inspiring investor confidence—by sharing, targeting, tracking and enhancing your unique content to make the most of your content investment. Our offerings include: - Multimedia Distribution—Engage consumers, investors and the media with the rich, compelling content that they are all hungry for: videos, photos, infographics, images. - Media Targeting & Monitoring— Reach influential journalists with our list-building tools and multichannel distribution network, and monitor conversations about your brand across global media, with metrics to uncover actionable media intelligence. - Professional Services— Leverage the expertise of our Professional Services team for your custom media research projects. - Configuration, implementation and roll-out of media monitoring solutions. - Ongoing monitoring and in-depth reporting on your brand and key topics. - On-demand research and analysis for campaigns, topics and issues. Resources Content Marketing Institute and PR Newswire, "Promoting Your Content Marketing: Time to Orchestrate the Concert of Paid Media," http://www.prnewswire.com/ knowledge-center/Promoting-Your-Content-Marketing-Time-to-Orchestrate-theConcert-of-Paid-Media.html

  • ARTICLE

    2015 SEC Filings Calendar

    In addition to downloading the 2015 SEC Filings Calendar, please opt-in to receive compliance and investor relations updates throughout 2015 PR Newswire and Vintage are great resources for you to keep up to date on the key topics and products in both the corporate compliance and IR industries. Please opt-in here to receive news and blog updates from us. CLICK HERE to download the SEC calendar.

  • ARTICLE

    Six essential "jargon" to learn for buying annual report printing

    No one expects Investor Relations Officers or Corporate Secretaries to be experts at purchasing commercial printing. That said, it’s safe to have a general understanding for the process – to assure your expectations are met. Download this PDF for the six key variables that Investor Relations Officers and Corporate Secretaries will be asked to make decisions around that will impact the production and price of an annual report. CLICK HERE to download the briefing.

  • CASE STUDY

    NYSE Governance Services 11th Annual Boardroom Summit

    This guidebook, courtesy of NYSE Governance Services, will help you in understanding what Boards are focusing on for 2015 - from the lessons of 2014. Topics include activism, proxy firms, compensation and more. CLICK HERE to download the "NYSE Governance Services 11th Annual Boardroom Summit" guidebook PDF.

  • WHITE PAPER

    Shareholder Communications: Driving Audiences for Emerging Growth & Small-Cap Companies

    Emerging growth and small-cap companies have different audiences, but both are driven by transparency and content—and a company has a much better chance of success if they have tactical communications elements and programs firmly in place. Shareholder Communications: Driving Audiences for Emerging Growth & Small-Cap Companies discusses: - The communications and PR practices of the top performing companies in the space - The four communications tactics you need to consider to drive your brand - How 240 different companies compare in their communications strategy This study does not measure any qualitative factors, including the actual content and messages being communicated – but it does dramatically indicate that just the practice and act of communications can deliver material impact.

  • ARTICLE

    Achieve Your Communications Goals with PR Newswire’s Services & Solutions

    When mapping out campaigns and programs, communicators are investing more resources – time and budget – in compelling content and strong messaging. Why? Because unique content – whether insightful, emotional, humorous or ground-breaking – grabs attention and builds relationships with the media, consumers and investors. The Guide to PR Newswire Offerings discusses: - Building awareness with effective content distribution - The impact of multimedia on your news release performance, and how to plan for it - Targeted outreach to earn more media coverage For more than 60 years PR Newswire has been recognized as the most authoritative source of news and information, delivering comprehensive and targeted influencer and audience attention, while providing the best customer service in the industry.

  • WHITE PAPER

    Leveraging PR to Drive Demand, Revenue & Profit Growth

    People typically don’t think of PR activity in discussions about demand generation or revenue. If you are looking for ways to build awareness of your brand—but also drive web traffic, fill your sales pipeline and boost revenue—it’s important to be sure you are using public relations to its fullest extent. Fortunately, PR today has expanded beyond its traditional role of building buzz and raising awareness. In the new, web-driven world of PR, there are new opportunities to attract customers, drive demand for your company’s products or services, and grow your sales and profits—and also to tie your PR efforts to actual revenue and pipeline results. Connect Your Content Strategy to the Bottom Line - Generate Leads with Content Are your content consumers filling out forms and signaling interest in your products/services? - Connect Content Leads to Revenue Are those content consumers who turned into leads also turning into actual customers? Why PR Matters More Than Ever Why does PR need to be more vocal about the role it plays in driving demand, sales and profits? - Customers and prospects are reading press releases. Journalists are no longer the only ones who receive and read press releases. Wire services post press releases online, where they are often read directly by customers and prospects. In addition, publications, blogs and industry websites often pick up and post press releases verbatim, creating even more channels for potential customers to discover your press release, visit your website or share your release with others. The Internet has exponentially multiplied opportunities to attract website traffic, drive leads and enhance revenue. - Earned media directly drives revenue. Earned media drives traffic, traffic drives leads, leads drive the pipeline and the pipeline drives revenue. Changes to Google’s search parameters give “implied links” more value. A mention in an article or blog directly affects your company’s search engine optimization (SEO), even if it does not link directly to your company website. With more to do and fewer resources, busy journalists are hungrier than ever for content they can share. Using PR to transform your company into a trusted source of content will result in more earned media—and more revenue. Finally, while publications are employing fewer journalists, each journalist is engaging with more readers more frequently using social media and blog posts. Being tweeted by a journalist with 20,000 Twitter followers could benefit your business more than a mention in a print magazine with a circulation of 20,000. - Analytics make it simple to measure the direct effect PR has on lead generation, conversion and sales. By implementing trackable URLs and a reputable analytics solution, your marketing team can gauge how many people visited your website, filled out a contact form or downloaded content as a result of PR. Ultimately, you can directly track which PR efforts generate traffic, leads and revenue. Making PR Work for Your Company How can you leverage PR to drive demand, revenue and profit growth? Follow these best practices: - Intelligently mine, develop and share interesting information from your brand. This can include statistically valid data, expert insights and case studies. Establish yourself as a trusted thought leader to the audience you want to sell to. - Use multimedia, incorporating infographics, photos or videos into your press releases to attract journalists’ and consumers’ attention and make them more likely to be shared. - During slow news times, find news hooks within existing content and use press releases to promote related blog posts and expert commentary in order to drive discovery of the underlying content, such as white papers, eBooks and webinars, and to drive traffic to landing pages that capture leads. - Don’t underestimate the value of social media. It can drive more measurable results than mentions in print publications. - Inspire action and increase conversion with direct calls to action within your news releases and other content. Encourage readers to visit your website, share the content, request more information or otherwise take the next step in the sales funnel. - Put your money behind your messages. It’s crucial to invest in disseminating the content your company has spent time and money developing. Work with a press release service to develop an appropriate cadence of press releases that keeps your company in the public eye. - Use analytics to measure results and adjust your PR campaign accordingly. For example, Google Analytics can measure website traffic before and after a PR campaign, track what actions users take on your website as a result of your content and measure how many leads attracted via PR are converting. As the world of journalism is changing, it is opening up new opportunities for PR to expand its reach and deliver more tangible results. Intelligently mining, developing and distributing content will have a direct impact on demand, lead generation and revenues, transforming PR from a cost center into a revenue center. ABOUT PR NEWSWIRE For more than 60 years, PR Newswire has helped PR, corporate and marketing communications, and investor relations professionals achieve their communications goals – from building awareness with new audiences and gaining media pickup, to managing reputation and inspiring investor confidence – by sharing, targeting, tracking and enhancing their messages to make the most of their communications campaigns and content investments.

  • WHITE PAPER

    Best Practices for Growth: Aligning PR Programs to Corporate Strategy

    Are you taking full advantage of the power of public relations to achieve your corporate goals? From earning media coverage and increasing public awareness of your brand, to driving sales and attracting potential funding sources, PR can help accomplish many objectives, making it a valuable weapon in a growth-stage company’s arsenal. But with so many other demands on your marketing budget, it’s easy to give PR short shrift. Perhaps you are focusing on lead generation activities, where ROI is easier to quantify than the results of PR. Instead of distributing higher-level press releases on a regular basis, perhaps you spend the bare minimum on PR, putting out only occasional low-level releases that never gain enough traction to lead to third-party coverage. Avoiding these common mistakes and using PR wisely can influence everything from your company’s web traffic and lead generation to buyer and investor decisions. Source: Inkhouse, eBook: Read It, Watch It, or Tweet It – How Americans Read and Share News. http://inkhouse.com/downloads/watch_read_tweet.pdf Here are some of the goals that a well-planned public relations program can help you accomplish: GOAL: Differentiate your company and build your brand In a crowded, competitive marketplace, PR helps your brand stand out to prospective customers, partners, employees, investors and other stakeholders. Starbucks, Zappos and TOMS shoes are among the many successful global brands that have relied on PR to craft their companies’ images. GOAL: Build brand authority & credibility Press releases are by far the most trusted source of companygenerated information. Americans age 18 and up are 11 times more likely to trust press releases than to trust advertisements.1 But press releases themselves generate even more credibility when they lead to earned media (third-party content, such as third-party blog posts, online or print articles, or TV and radio coverage). Studies have shown that expert content earned via PR is the single most effective source of information in impacting consumers’ opinions about a company.2 Consumers consider expert content more credible than any other type of content, including advertisements, social media and online reviews. GOAL: Attract investors For public companies, the use of PR and wire services is required by law to ensure that a company’s material news is disseminated in a broad and timely manner. But PR plays an important role for private companies as well. No matter how successful your business model is, word of mouth alone is not a sufficient public relations strategy to generate awareness of your business among potential investors. Utilizing press releases on a regular basis lets potential investors know you’ve “arrived,” enables you to prove that your business model is viable and allows you to share news of your ongoing growth. One study found that greater dissemination of press releases can increase firms’ visibility, which broadens their investor base.3 And Forrester Research reports that: - 13% of visitors to PRNewswire.com are individual investors seeking information about a company as an investment.4 - Nearly two-thirds of these investors (62%) visit the site on a regular basis. - 38% of these investors visit PRNewswire.com daily “Investors are just like prospects, and published articles or references on third-party sites reduce the perceived risk in doing business with your company,” said Chris Golec, the CEO of B2B marketing technology firm Demandbase, in his talk at South By Southwest in 2014 titled This Isn’t Your Mom’s Way of Raising a Round. “I often follow up investor meetings by sending a recently published press release or article to reinforce a message and add credibility.” Investors are not just looking for the financial media’s commentary on a company’s press releases; they are seeking news straight from the company as well. Whatever stage of growth your firm is in, and whether you are seeking angel investors, venture capital, crowdfunding or pursuing an initial public offering, building a consistent PR presence increases the chances that investors will take an interest in your business. GOAL: Support your exit strategy Appropriately leveraging PR early on in your business’s growth builds brand awareness, enhances your company’s reputation and gains the attention of potential investors, supporting a successful exit strategy—whether your exit is planned for the nearterm or long-term. Studies have shown that the stock of public companies that employ PR on a regular basis trades at higher valuations than the stock of those that do not. For example, one study that investigated the impact of press release dissemination by public companies found that greater dissemination of firm news lowered bid/ask spreads, increased trading volume and lowered idiosyncratic volatility.5 GOAL: Drive sales Before the advent of Internet search engines, press releases were designed for and distributed solely to a small audience of journalists. Today, however, press releases distributed via wire service reach a wide variety of websites and are exposed to the general public online, not just to members of the media. As a result, your press releases can be found when prospective customers search for the products or services your company sells, can drive traffic to your company’s website and can directly increase sales of your products or services. Best Practices: Maximizing the Benefits of PR for Your Company Clearly, PR can play a key role in helping your company achieve a wide range of growth goals. How can you develop a successful PR strategy that makes the most of PR’s benefits? Follow these best practices: START EARLY AND BE CONSISTENT PR is an effective tool for growing your company, but as with all types of marketing, you cannot expect to get instant results or see results from a single press release. It takes time to build visibility for your company when thousands of other companies are competing for attention, and it’s important to do more than the bare minimum in order to attract notice. Increase your PR strategy’s chances of success by promoting your business via press releases early, frequently and consistently. One approach that is typically very successful is to “roll out” your brand in stages. Begin by promoting your company via press releases sent to smaller, lesser-known media outlets, such as local publications, television networks or radio stations. Once you earn media coverage in the smaller channels, build on that success to reach out to big-name media outlets such as national magazines, newspapers and television shows. A successful rollout requires developing a plan early on for creating and distributing a consistent stream of content via wire services. Consistency is key: Be patient and give your PR outreach sufficient time to produce results. As your business grows, your ongoing PR presence will have a cumulative effect, gradually building reputation and visibility. MAKE PR PART OF AN INTEGRATED MARKETING STRATEGY PR is a key element in your growth plan, but it is only one element. In order to succeed, your PR plan must be integrated into a multichannel marketing strategy that includes demand generation, social media and advertising. All of your marketing efforts must work together toenhance and amplify each other and support your brand. For example, your press releases can expand on topics that are raised in your social media posts or to promote interesting new content, while your social media channels can be used to share your press releases with a wide range of audiences. DEVOTE APPROPRIATE RESOURCES TO PR In order to achieve your company’s growth goals, you must commit adequate resources to PR. This can be a difficult commitment to make, especially knowing that you will not see immediate results. However, if the budget, time and resources that you dedicate to PR are commensurate with your company’s growth objectives, your efforts will ultimately have a positive effect. UNDERSTAND THE “NEW WORLD OF PR” While in the past, a press release might have been sent to a few dozen journalists with the goal of earning media coverage in a few industry publications, today your press release could potentially be seen by thousands of potential clients, investors, partners and other stakeholders. Even press releases that do not result in media coverage are accessible online, where individuals discover and share them via search engines and social media. As a result, organizations with successful PR programs are more visible than their competitors through search engines, social media and media outlets. With this knowledge in mind, your company’s press releases should be planned for and targeted to a wide range of potential stakeholders— not just journalists. Press releases should include keywords and calls to action targeted to the specific audiences you hope to attract, such as potential customers, partners, employees, investors and other stakeholders. They should also be easily shareable on social media in order to amplify their message. PROACTIVELY DISTRIBUTE YOUR BRAND’S PRESS RELEASES Leveraging wire services is an effective way to rapidly expose your brand not only to journalists and influencers, but also to the wider world of customers, investors and other stakeholders. For instance, distributing press releases via PR Newswire promotes your content to a broad range of media outlets and websites, including major news sites such as The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! and CNBC, special interest sites, radio stations and television stations, increasing the chances that they will be seen by the widest possible audience. As new viewers see your press release in these outlets, they will share it among their social networks, spreading your message to entirely new audiences. Understanding the new world of PR and successfully distributing press releases via wire services can help your company achieve a wide range of growth goals, from building awareness and driving sales to attracting investors and supporting a successful exit strategy. Press releases are by far the most trusted source of company-generated information. Americans age 18 and up are 11 times more likely to trust press releases than to trust advertisements. Studies have shown that expert content earned via PR is the single most effective source of information in impacting consumers’ opinions about a company.2 “Investors are just like prospects, and published articles or references on third-party sites reduce the perceived risk in doing business with your company.” —CHRIS GOLEC CEO, DEMANDBASE ... one study that investigated the impact of press release dissemination by public companies found that greater dissemination of firm news lowered bid/ ask spreads, increased trading volume and lowered idiosyncratic volatility.5 In order to succeed, your PR plan must be integrated into a multichannel marketing strategy that includes demand generation, social media and advertising. About the Author: John Viglotti John is responsible for the development of PR Newswire’s products and services to enhance the visibility of public companies with institutional and retail investors and the financial media. In 2010, John launched the first monthly virtual investor conference series, which has introduced several hundred companies to tens of thousands of institutional and retail investors. In 2009, John formed Quantitative Targeting LLC (QT), focused on the creation of algorithms that measure the compatibility between a public company and institutional investors to aid IR professionals in their buyside targeting efforts. Prior to QT, John was VP of Content Strategy for Thomson Reuters. He joined Thomson in 2006 with the acquisition of Georgeson Shareholder Analytics (GSA). As Managing Director of GSA, John had P&L responsibility for North America and led product and service development, sales and marketing and directed the collection of security ownership and investment manager profiles. Product development at GSA included the development of a global stock surveillance and shareholder analysis team and dashboards for IR and institutional sales and trading. John began his career in the financial media industry with a SEC based newswire, Federal Filings, which was acquired by Dow Jones. Viglotti received a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and Computer Science from American University and a MBA in Finance and Investments from George Washington University. RESOURCES 1. Inkhouse, Press Releases: “The Most Trusted Form of Company-generated News” 2. Nielsen, “The Role of Content in the Consumer Decision Making Process” 3. Eugene Soltes, “News Dissemination and the Impact of the Business Press” 4. PR Newswire, “Engaging Individual Investors: Insights into PR Newswire’s Online Audiences” 5. Eugene Soltes, “News Dissemination and the Impact of the Business Press”

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