Louis Thompson, Jr. has an article in Compliance Week on using blogs for investor relations. Blogs: If Used Properly, an Investor-Friendly Tool (subscription required).
Louis focuses on the Dell Shares blog used as an investor relations tool by Dell, Inc. and the GE Reports blog used by General Electric. Since this is a blog, I was interested to see what he had to say about them.
Many of the issues and concerns that Louis brings up are not about blogs but some of the functionality of blogs. After all, a blog is just a publishing platform. It is how you use that generates value or creates problems.
All of the SEC rules about company’s distributing material information applies to blog as they do to any other company communication.
The big benefit of a blog is that it will send out a notification when there is new information. This saves me from having to come back to check for information or cramming my email inbox. For an investor relations professional, this saves you a step of writing message and then sending an email. The blog compresses those two steps into one.
The second benefit is the interactivity. You can hear back from your investors. This is a new area and probably a little scary. You can hear criticism. You can hear compliments. For most people it is hard to take the criticism. (Personally I have come to dread silence over criticism. At least with criticism you know someone is paying attention. I find this better than being ignored.)
Certainly, you want to get some good legal advice in crafting the disclaimers and for dealing with comments on a blog. As Bruce Carton and I discussed in our Webinar on 2.0 for Securities and Compliance Professionals, blogs are just communications tools. You shouldn’t put anything in a blog that you would not put in an email or a story published on the front page of the newspaper.
Disclaimer: According to his biography, Louis is a partner with Beacon Advisors, Inc. That company is not affiliated with my employer.