The Shareholder ForumTM

Electronic Participation in Shareholder Meetings

Forum Home Page [see Broadridge note below]

"E-Meetings" Home Page

"E-Meetings" Program Reference


IR Magazine | Inside Investor Relations, May 21, 2012 article


Inside Investor Relations


Blogs: a neglected channel

by | 21 May 2012

Blogging is a great way for IROs to engage with investors and analysts online, but few companies have taken it up

The best IR programs have always taken the discussion with investors beyond mere required disclosure, adding color and context to the numbers – and blogging is arguably the ideal online channel for that purpose.

But blogs have failed to find a place in most IROs’ toolkits to the extent that the 140-character tweet has, according to Toronto-based IR consultant Q4 Web Systems, which has surveyed social media use by IROs since 2009.

‘Blogs may represent too much of a sustained effort or be viewed as high-risk in terms of disclosure,’ observes Sheryl Joyce, director of marketing and communications at Q4.

Of those companies that do blog, technology firms are the most active, followed by those in the services industry, she reports. Small-cap companies are the most prolific IR-specific bloggers, followed by large-cap and then mid-cap companies.

Selected blogs

General corporate blogs

Johnson & Johnson:
SAB Miller:

IR-specific blogs

Deutsche EuroShop:
China Wind Power:

One company that’s keen to promote IR blogging is Dell, which has been a pioneer in exploring social media for its IR program. The tech firm’s IR blog site, DellShares, is a content-rich, investor-centric platform for news, interviews, links and updates that aims to keep the company top of mind with tech investors. DellShares is one of many Dell blog sites, each targeted at specific audiences.

David MehokDavid Mehok, the Dell IR team member responsible for DellShares, reports that in a 2010 survey of the blog’s audience, Dell found that both the buy side and sell side prefer ‘timely, relatively short blogs’ that are ‘easy to digest’ and that add incremental information and insight beyond the company press releases.

Investors also want to see and hear management outside of scripted calls, which Dell provides through numerous video blog (vlog) interviews posted on its site.

‘We are definitely not standing still,’ Mehok says. ‘We’re always looking for ways to improve and further our reach.’ The company recently added an IR website link to its ticker page on Yahoo! Finance.

‘The bottom line is that people will be talking about your company in social media whether you want them to or not,’ Mehok adds. ‘IROs should take a proactive approach – they need to be a part of, and help form, the conversation.’

On the network

Writing on your own blog is only one option, however: companies can also post on blogging networks to get their message out there. For example, Seeking Alpha, the financial blogging site, has attracted articles from companies like Walmart and Netflix.

Ezra MarbachEzra Marbach, who launched the China Stock Blog (now part of the Seeking Alpha network) in 2004, argues that social media channels can be invaluable, particularly for small-cap companies trying to stand out from the clutter of online financial information.

He points out, however, that there is a scarcity of investor-oriented platforms that are easy to integrate into an IR website, with the possible exceptions of Seeking Alpha and StockTwits, the ticker-specific Twitter stream. That gap is the main reason most IROs have not fully embraced blogging, he says.

Marbach still sees great promise for small-cap companies that creatively use multiple blog sites. He encourages IROs not just to take their stories to sites such as Seeking Alpha but also to actively seek out financial bloggers who might write about their firm, the same way they’d seek out new sell-side coverage.

Words of warning

Attorney Tom McCoy, a partner at O’Melveny & Myers and former general counsel at Advanced Micro Devices, approaches the question of investor-focused blogs with all the caution and skepticism you’d expect from a former general counsel and litigation attorney.

McCoy is not enamored of IR-specific blogs and is even more skeptical of CEO blogs. There ‘has to be a compelling purpose’ beyond ego gratification to justify the CEO or CFO blogging in his or her own name, he argues, warning that general counsel and boards of directors will ask ‘plenty of hard questions’.

Tom McCoyMcCoy advises any CEO who blogs to focus his or her communication ‘on what is really important to the business’, which he regards as employees, customers and business partners.

Sell-side and buy-side analysts are more interested in what a company says to those audiences and are smart enough to find the relevant information they need outside of a corporate blog specifically crafted for them, he says.

Marty Dunn, also an O’Melveny partner and a former SEC deputy director, adds that the risks inherent in CEO blogging need to be weighed against the perceived advantages.

While acknowledging that a CEO blog can help humanize a company’s senior leadership, Dunn warns that informal and unscripted communication can veer close to the line on selective disclosure and will be scrutinized by the plaintiff’s bar and the SEC if things go wrong.

Both McCoy and Dunn advise that executive blogs in particular should be treated like any IR-generated communication, adhering to a rigorous process of drafting and legal review.

Despite reservations, however, McCoy acknowledges that companies need to be in the flow. ‘We’re past the day when an organization can scratch its head and puzzle over social media,’ he concludes.

Tips to help you start blogging

Must-dos and nice-to-dos from some of the experienced professionals who contributed to this article.

-Figure out your objectives and audiences. Will your blog content be IR-specific, or will you leverage content from across the company – including R&D, manufacturing, marketing, PR and international operations, for instance?
-Establish a rigorous process and policies for content development, authorship and legal review.
-Think through the role your blog will play in your crisis management plan: will blog posts stay in the archive forever?
-Don’t just regurgitate existing company press releases – provide original insight, context and industry news and developments.
-Send out a brief email directly and a tweet with a link notifying key audiences when a new blog is posted.
-Use your blog to solicit questions from shareholders in advance of a quarterly earnings call or AGM.
-Post video interviews with your CEO or CFO around key events such as quarterly earnings calls or analyst meetings. Add a transcript for all video blogs, as some users’ firewalls will block YouTube content.
-Post your company’s discussion policy and a link to its safe harbor disclaimer.
-Give your blog a proper personality – post appropriate contact info, bios and pictures or avatars of the main blog contributors.



© Copyright Cross Border Ltd. 1995–2012.




This Forum program is open, free of charge, to anyone concerned with investor interests in the development of standards for conducting shareholder meetings with electronic participation. As stated in the posted Conditions of Participation, the Forum's purpose is to provide decision-makers with access to information and a free exchange of views on the issues presented in the program's Forum Summary. Each participant is expected to make independent use of information obtained through the Forum, subject to the privacy rights of other participants.  It is a Forum rule that participants will not be identified or quoted without their explicit permission.

The organization of this Forum program was encouraged by Walden Asset Management, and is proceeding with the invited leadership support of Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc. and Intel Corporation to address issues relevant to broad public interests in marketplace practices, rather than investor decisions relating to only a single company. The Forum may therefore invite program support of several companies that can provide both expertise and examples of leadership relating to the issues being addressed.

Inquiries about this Forum program and requests to be included in its distribution list may be addressed to

The information provided to Forum participants is intended for their private reference, and permission has not been granted for the republishing of any copyrighted material. The material presented on this web site is the responsibility of Gary Lutin, as chairman of the Shareholder Forum.

Shareholder Forum™ is a trademark owned by The Shareholder Forum, Inc., for the programs conducted since 1999 to support investor access to decision-making information. It should be noted that we have no responsibility for the services that Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc., introduced for review in the Forum's 2010 "E-Meetings" program and has since been offering with the “Shareholder Forum” name, and we have asked Broadridge to use a different name that does not suggest our support or endorsement.