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Posts Tagged 'mobile investor relations'

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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Mobile Technology and IR at the Citi ADR IR Academy

Last week I was fortunate to speak in front of a global group of investor relations officers at the CITI ADR IR Academy in New York City. As a former IR consultant and founder of a mobile technology company for communications professionals, I was able to blend my expertise on both subjects to provide the attendees with a ‘state of the state’ on mobile technology as it pertains to IR.

To put the discussion in context, I started my remarks by referring to my book Investor Relations: The Art of Communicating Value.  In particular, I reviewed the four basic steps that I believe are critical to building a successful investor relations program:

  1. Determine the investment proposition
  2. Develop the communications platform
  3. Target the appropriate investor audience
  4. Build relationships with investors

Mobile technology clearly is relevant to Step 2 (the communications platform) and Step 4 (building relationships with investors).  Research unequivocally demonstrates that mobile technology is everywhere and pretty much every worker has an Apple or Android device with them 24/7.   Investment professionals are no exception and therefore it would be prudent for IRO’s to add this “mobile platform” to their overall communications platform to communicate their story and investment proposition(s) to their targeted investor audience.

I then went on to un-confuse what many IR professionals find confusing – the various easy and cost effective options that exist to incorporate mobile into an IR program.  Viewing an IR website through a mobile browser is no longer acceptable.  IR websites originally weren’t created for the small screens of mobile devices and hence are illegible, not to mention extremely difficult navigate.  A responsive design optimized website is definitely a better alternative since it at least makes the IR website content legible.  However, even this does not fully take advantage of the capabilities available from Apple and Android-based mobile devices.

So what option remains?  Native apps.  These apps are software that can be found in the app stores and were developed specifically for the operating systems that are “native” to the mobile devices (iOS, Android and Windows for the few Windows phones out there).  Native apps allow for push notifications to inform investors immediately when new content is made available; the downloading of content for offline viewing and listening; and note taking on tablets.  To the extent investors proactively download a company’s app and opt-in to receive the push notifications to their personal device, this can go a long way towards building relationships with investors (Step 4), especially when content appears on the home screen of the device when it is in sleep mode.

I concluded my remarks by stating the following:  “There is a paradigm change that is happening right before our eyes.  The technology we have used for the past few decades is changing and will continue to change.  The way in which we use mobile technology in business is changing and will continue to change.  Behaviors are changing as are our expectations for the way things get done.  Mobile technology is front and center when it comes to investor relations – we can’t escape the fact that all of our investors have at least one mobile device – and it will only continue to become more important in the years to come.  So, regardless of whether our investors are specifically asking us to develop an app or to incorporate mobile into our communications platform, at some point soon, they will come to expect that we will do so.  We have a choice to make now – we can be proactive in our use of technology for our work, or we can wait until we no longer have a choice.”

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