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When Big News Can’t Wait Until Monday

It was Saturday, April 2nd and Edwards Lifesciences was presenting the positive results of its PARTNER II trial at the American College of Cardiology’s 65th Annual Scientific Session in Chicago. Prior to the presentation, a press release was issued and the news was simultaneously published online in The New England Journal of Medicine. On Sunday, April 3rd, additional positive results from the PARTNER II study were issued in a press release, presented at the conference and simultaneously published online in The Lancet, a UK-based medical journal.

What a great weekend for those investors in Edwards Lifesciences – and an even better weekend for those sitting in the audience or those who work 24/7 even over the weekend.  But what about those investors and others who typically wait until Mondays to learn what’s going on with their favorite stocks?

Edwards Stock Chart

Image courtesy of Yahoo! Finance

Well, for those who had downloaded the Edwards Lifesciences IR app, there was no issue and they didn’t have to wait until Monday to learn what had just been announced.  Over the weekend, they received several push notifications to the home screens of their iPhones, iPads and Android mobile devices. The first alerted them to the fact that Edwards had issued news and the second provided the details for a webcast that they could participate in either through the IR section of the Edwards corporate website or through the Edwards IR app itself.

Edwards did more than it needed to do in handling its disclosure obligations.  Indeed, Edwards is one of the pioneers in the use of native app technology to enhance and expand its investor communications.  Kudos to Edwards Lifesciences for the great work they are doing in science.  And Kudos to the company’s investors for investing in a company that really cares about making sure they are able to know what is taking place at their company 24/7.

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Berkshire Hathaway to Live Stream Upcoming Annual Shareholders Meeting

Just months after Yahoo! produced the first-ever live stream of an NFL football game, it is now turning its capabilities to the Investor Relations community. Last week Yahoo Finance announced that it is teaming up with Berkshire Hathaway to live stream their upcoming annual shareholders meeting. According to the press release, “approximately 40,000 Berkshire Hathaway shareholders from around the world are expected to attend the highly anticipated event, which until now, has been unavailable to the general public.”

The move by Berkshire Hathaway accomplishes two key things. First, it allows both shareholders and non-shareholders to gain additional insight into the Company and its strategic vision for the upcoming years. Second, by utilizing this innovative approach, Berkshire is expanding its overall communications strategy and increasing its transparency to shareholders and potentially new shareholders.

Kudos to Berkshire and Yahoo! Such a move undoubtedly enhances the company’s IR communications, not to mention takes advantage of 21st Century technologies and ways of doing business.

Obviously most companies are not a Berkshire Hathaway. However, there is an important takeaway for all companies regardless of their size or financial resources. The day of the traditional press release and annual report is history. There are innovative and more current ways (that can be reasonably priced) to get a company’s key messages out to the general public and to be as transparent as possible.

One other thing to consider – everyone, especially professional investors, has a mobile device. And, pretty much all of the new technological tools available for communicating can be broadcast or displayed on iPhones and Android devices. Whether it’s live streaming events (in the case of Berkshire Hathaway), providing on-demand video content, releasing a new investor deck or simply making press releases easily and instantaneously accessible, investors are coming to expect that they will be able to access this IR content from wherever they are.

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Mobile IR Apps versus Social Media – Are the Two Mutually Exclusive?

BNY Mellon recently released the tenth edition of its Global Trends in Investor Relations report. The comprehensive survey examines global IR practices from 550 respondents across 54 countries that span a range of market cap and industry sectors, including financials, industrials, consumer, technology and healthcare. A free copy of the report is available by clicking the link above.

While there are many good takeaways from the 36 page report, the authors of the report confuse one important issue – the use of mobile technology for IR purposes does not constitute social media.  Hence it is a mistake to include “Mobile phone/Tablet IR apps” within the social media section of the report without qualification.

Social media for IR purposes certainly can take place via the mobile device (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, StockTwits, etc.).  However, mobile technology by itself is not social media.  It is but a mechanism through which to deliver information (similar to the desktop computer and Internet).  Similarly, mobile IR apps aren’t social media.  Rather they, like the IR website, are another conduit for making investor related information accessible to investors.  The two are not and shouldn’t be considered mutually exclusive.

One message that we at theIRapp have continued to emphasize in our blog (Authentic Content Still Reigns King and Avon, Twitter and Fraudulent Communications) is the importance of companies controlling their message and ensuring that the public receives authentic, company-generated content.  The BNY report mentions the “inability to control the message” as an important reason for not using social media for IR purposes.  As a result, one might believe that the same holds true with respect to IR apps.  This is not the case.  Rather, content posted on a company’s IR app is done so by an authorized member of the company.  Moreover, in some instances, a company’s IR app is an extension of its IR website and the content therein.

The BNY Mellon report indicates that the category of mobile phone/tablet IR apps has doubled since 2012 when their research first started following this new form of communications.  There is still a lot of room for further growth considering only 11% of companies are using IR apps. And this will undoubtedly occur as companies continue to embrace the importance of making their IR information readily, instantaneously and conveniently available to their investors.  It will also continue to grow as investors continue to recognize that the information being delivered to them through the IR apps of the companies they follow is authentic and actually from the company.

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