Mark Hynes - thoughts on corporate disclosure

Opinions on changing rules, changing best practices, and their effect on investor relations officers.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Why would an IRO limit news dissemination?

Its that time again. NIRI National conference will take place next week, and we are full of hope and expectation. I see that the opening session has the optimistic title “Deliver Your Message with Confidence: Owning the Conversation”.

There is a subtext to this year’s NIRI that has a personal ring to it (see disclosure below). The issue is whether digital disclosure alone can meet the needs of all investors. The launch of 2 new web disclosure services opens up the choice for public companies in a way not seen for a while.

Step back a minute. “Shareholder engagement” has been a constant theme of this blog since we started 4 years ago; corporate governance on both sides of the Atlantic is a theme that IR is being more and more involved with. Increasingly we are seeing the voice of Board in governance communications, NOT the voice of Compliance. This means as wide an outreach to investors – known and unknown, current and potential – as possible.

As companies have a choice of disclosure means, so too investors have a choice as to where they get their information. Many choose web commentary, others choose print media, others still choose the corporate website. What ALL want is an accurately delivered message, from a verified source.

Now here’s what I don’t quite get. Against a background of economically tough times and turmoil, why would you choose to limit any aspect of that communication? Why would you elect NOT to reach aspects that audience at a time when many are opting to deliver guidance through regular updates of non financial information? Why would you exclude a set of controls that allow accurate delivery eliminating potential errors?

Now for that disclosure bit. Aside from advising service providers in shareholder identification, corporate reporting – and yes web hosting and design solutions, like some other commentators – I still provide part time consultancy to PR Newswire. If I believed that they were making buggy whips, I wouldn’t be there.

Choosing a mix of media for delivery has to be the best way to “Deliver Your Message with Confidence”.


  • At 8:31 am, Blogger Dominic Jones said…

    If by "limit news dissemination" you mean not paying an intermediary for dissemination of dubious value, then yes that's what is being proposed.

    Most companies will be shocked to learn that almost no one interacts with releases on 95% of PR Newswire's partner sites. The same goes for any other disclosure wire. These services are carpet bombing the web without any real purpose. Companies can easily verify this themselves by including a trackable link in their releases. A service like provides free tracking. Just add a + sign at the end of a link to see how many investors are clicking the links and on which sites or application they are doing so.

    What these two vendors you refer to are offering is targeted distribution at much lower cost in a manner which fully complies with the SEC, NYSE and NASDAQ rules. Indeed, one of the vendors you reference is a newswire owned by NASDAQ. Additionally, real-time dissemination is freely available directly between the company and interested investors via investors' preferred means, including real-time SMS, Facebook updates, LinkedIn, RSS, email or their professional financial desktop via a push enabled feed. In fact, just about any way you can get information, it is available for free.

    The technologies available to companies today provide huge opportunities to improve dissemination of disclosure information.

  • At 6:46 pm, Anonymous Phil Dennison said…

    Hi, Mark -- I'm a Senior Marketing Specialist at Business Wire, and as it happens we posted some thoughts along the same lines today. We also believe that fair disclosure requires communicating in the broadest manner possible. I've linked to your post from our own, at .

  • At 10:42 am, Blogger Mark Hynes said…

    Thanks Dominic,
    I suppose my comment is less a technical issue about where news reaches or a commercial issue as to the value that represents, and more a reflection on the changes in the need for broader communication.
    My issue is in regard to the need for companies to keep the market informed more frequently. The days of formal quarterly guidance look like they are ending, and companies are needing to establish a regular flow of guidance. Impact of market movements, updates on sales progress, developments in new geographies, management changes etc all influence the financial models of investors, and come at irregular intervals. Finding ways to ensure that this information reaches all parts of the market – yes including new and old media – is essential.


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