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  • Why don't IR people use Seeking Alpha? 43 comments
    Apr 15, 2010 11:51 AM

    We received an email from an investor relations professional who submitted an article to us for publication. We refused it, and he asked why.

    Should we accept IR people as Contributors? No, because it wouldn't be best for our readers. Our readers want to know what investors think about stocks. Investors own stocks because they are positive about them, whereas company executives and IR people are positive about their company because that's their job.

    Nonetheless, IR people can get a ton of exposure on Seeking Alpha without contributing articles. They can StockTalk all the info they want about their companies, and the info appears on our home page and quote pages. (By connecting to Twitter on our site, they can use StockTalk to reach Seeking Alpha's audience and also Twitter readers in one shot.) With a little thought (eg. mentioning ticker symbols of competing companies in StockTalks), they can introduce their companies to readers who don't know them but would be interested to hear about them.

    They can also write Instablogs, and comment on articles.

    Seeking Alpha is an ideal location for IR people. Contributors and articles are vetted, comments are moderated, and we have an article dispute process that ensures accuracy.

    More important, Seeking Alpha has a dream audience for IR professionals. Our readers are not day traders. They are the investor base companies want to own their stock: investment professionals and serious individual investors.

    But we've had a really hard time getting IR people engaged in Seeking Alpha in any way. We've offered to transcribe companies' conference calls at little more than cost, to show IR people how to use StockTalk, and to give IR people greater prominence as company representatives. The take up has been almost zero, so we gave up.

    IR people could use StockTalk to inform our readers about:
    -News advisories
    -Comments on industry developments
    -Conf call info.
    -Research alerts
    -Presentation links and alerts
    -Media coverage references and links

    ... but they never do.


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Instablogs are blogs which are instantly set up and networked within the Seeking Alpha community. Instablog posts are not selected, edited or screened by Seeking Alpha editors, in contrast to contributors' articles.

Comments (43)
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  • Boaz Berkowitz
    , contributor
    Comments (84) | Send Message
    It is certainly surprising that IR professionals have not been flocking to Seeking Alpha in greater numbers. However David, you are not the only one to have recognized the potential that Seeking Alpha has for the IR community. Not so long ago I linked to a post by Dominic Jones at IR Web Report where he outlined just how useful Seeking Alpha can be to investment relations departments. He gave step by step instructions describing how to best utilize Seeking Alpha to achieve IR goals:




    Perhaps Jones is merely an early adopter and others in the industry don't have as keen an understanding into the workings of the Seeking Alpha community. But I expect in time others in the IR field will recognize the wisdom of his words and follow his lead.
    15 Apr 2010, 01:31 PM Reply Like
  • Dominic Jones
    , contributor
    Comments (72) | Send Message
    The only reason for IROs to use Seeking Alpha is to gain exposure to the audience here. However, achieving exposure here requires IROs to invest substantial time on the site following, commenting, and writing Stocktalks and Instablogs. Time is a scarce commodity for IROs, so they need to see a very strong return on the time they invest here because they could be spending that time doing many other things.


    The problem is that there is so much content on Seeking Alpha, that contributions by company representative get lost. If Seeking Alpha could do one thing to help IROs who are willing to put in the time, it is this:


    Where there’s merit, make a conscious effort to promote Instablogs contributed by company representatives to the Seeking Alpha homepage or other main pages. Don’t promote rubbish, but when an IRO or company executive posts quality content, give it a boost.
    The types of stories you promote will provide examples to others of the kind of content your editors consider relevant to the core audience that uses Seeking Alpha. It may also help to encourage more IROs and company executives to join in.


    On the issue of Seeking Alpha not allowing company representatives to contribute Articles that are syndicated to your partners, I don’t believe the policy is fair. Treat companies the same way you treat all other contributors, on the merits of the individual contributions.


    If all of Seeking Alpha’s contributors were journalists with a professional duty to objectivity, I’d understand the current policy. However, almost everyone who contributes to Seeking Alpha brings with them a bias of some sort. Your current method for dealing with these biases is to require Contributors to disclose any positions they have in securities they mention.


    Why not do the same for Articles contributed by company representatives? Prominently (at the top) identify the syndicated articles as having been written by a company representative. Even high-profile financial publications do this via op-eds. I think you were working on a separate contributor category for verified company representatives, which is a good idea.


    Of course, Seeking Alpha should retain complete editorial control over which company contributed articles it chooses to distribute and no one should ever be able to pay to have an article syndicated. And I would encourage you to set a market-cap requirement to avoid denuding the quality of your syndicated content. Also, all company contributed articles should be submitted by a named employee of the company via an existing company or personal Seeking Alpha account. Don’t let “investor relations” firms submit the articles.


    Given opportunities to reach a potentially large audience of investors by contributing high quality content, I think you’ll find IROs and other company executives will use Seeking Alpha.
    15 Apr 2010, 03:23 PM Reply Like
  • David Jackson
    , contributor
    Comments (1279) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Dominic, many thanks for your thoughtful comment.


    You wrote: "The only reason for IROs to use Seeking Alpha is to gain exposure to the audience here." But I don't think that's right, because our audience includes many influencers who have far wider impact than our direct readers. Those influencers include contributors who write about stocks, and money managers who discuss ideas with other investment professionals.


    By setting up a portfolio and signing up for an email alert, IROs can know when articles are written about their company. That allows them to track what is being said by influencers. They can contact the authors directly by using direct messaging on the site, to send authors information or correct any factual mistakes.


    On the issue of allowing IROs to become contributors, I'd be interested to hear feedback from other IROs and readers.
    15 Apr 2010, 04:33 PM Reply Like
  • David Collins
    , contributor
    Comments (155) | Send Message
    "Separate but equal" has never faired very well in this country - and you wonder why IR pro's are not using the site as much as they could? Let's start with the limits you place on exposure of their posts - that's a clear sign on how much you value/want my contributions - and it reduces the potential value and therefore the interest in doing it!


    That we are paid to represent our clients... is that really a conflict? I challenge you to highlight any value-added posters on SA who don't have some form of economic incentive or motive to write what they write - even if it's just to build their name, spread their thoughts, drive traffic to their blog or site (or to try to move sentiment in the direction of investments they have made), etc.


    And it is naive to assume the IRO's sole mission is to goose his client stock - investors are far too smart for that. Our goal in IR is to provide data and perspective that helps investors understand what is going on with a company and where it is going. The long term goal is to help forge relationships and credibility that will lead to long term understanding and investment. I regularly distribute negative news, media coverage or other data to investors and analysts because they have a right to know about these things; and the IR/investor relationship is far more than just "good news." Actually IR really earns most of its keep in helping investors understand negative news and making them feel like we are balanced in our communications.


    I think Dominic is correct that the principal reason "for IROs to use Seeking Alpha is to gain exposure to the audience.." And you can call them what you like - "influencers or users or investors or readers..." it's a community of people thinking about investments.


    IROs already have great conduits for getting their news to their existing audience (it's all referenced to the stock symbol and available at most major portals). But what we crave is access to new potential investors/influencers who HAVEN'T heard of our client(s). We also crave 1st amendment protections to express ourselves about investments - both clients and non-clients.


    SeekingAlpha is great site with some very heavy hitting traffic (I found this out when I wrote up a company a few years back). I would like to make it a part of my IR outreach for certain clients - primarily those who are seeking to build awareness - and I have 3 clients who use the transcript service - so don't dismiss us all for not using the service (also had a CEO do a blog interview several years ago) to its potential.


    BUT I have found it difficult and less helpful when I try to post things about clients - things that would add value for investors who are looking at the name. The avenues available have less visibility and are "lower on the page" and less likely to be noticed.


    All I ask for is a reasoned approach to allowing IROs to use the site to spread the word in a credible way. I think you can do better SA - and thank you for opening up this dialogue for comment.
    15 Apr 2010, 07:23 PM Reply Like
  • David Jackson
    , contributor
    Comments (1279) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » David, Thank you for your thoughtful comment.


    I think it's useful to distinguish between information and opinion. As you stated, IR professionals are in the business of providing information about their companies - not just about good news, but about bad news as well. In contrast, Seeking Alpha contributors provide opinions about stocks.


    Do IROs really want to be in the business of providing opinions, as opposed to information?


    Even if they did, our readers wouldn't trust those opinions -- because no IRO is going to say "My stock is a sell". In contrast, while our contributors have economic interests, such as promoting their money management firms or research services, their economic interests do not dictate what they must think about a stock. If they don't like a stock, they sell it, and can explain why they sold it.


    This is why I'm comfortable with our policy that IROs should not be article Contributors to Seeking Alpha. But that doesn't mean they can't use SA to disseminate *information* to our readers.


    Both you and Dominic suggested that IROs don't have visibility on our site. But that's just not true. If you use StockTalk to disseminate information about a company and use the company's ticker symbol and those of its partners or competitors, you'll get in front of everyone who visits those quote pages or who has those stocks in their portfolio, and you'll likely also appear on our home page. And since you can connect to Twitter, you'll reach the Twitter audience as well with no added work.
    16 Apr 2010, 01:38 AM Reply Like
  • Dominic Jones
    , contributor
    Comments (72) | Send Message


    All valid points you've made about how IROs and company execs can use the tools on Seeking Alpha. I believe that ultimately you are right. Getting heavily involved in the site and engaging with investors will deliver the best results for companies and the most value to other users.


    But that's a lot of work and a big commitment. There needs to be a sweetener, something to entice companies to give the site a try. I think that treating company executives the same as any other contributor and syndicating great contributions to your partners will be high attractive.


    Sure, company executives are positive on their companies and cannot be impartial. Everyone knows that. But they're also experts on their businesses and industries and can provide valuable perspectives. I don't think anyone is asking Seeking Alpha to compromise on its editorial standards. It's in everyone's best interests that you have high standards.


    We're just saying that a strict policy that excludes, out of hand, great content by industry experts just because they happen to work for a public company doesn't make sense for anyone either.
    16 Apr 2010, 03:55 AM Reply Like
  • David Jackson
    , contributor
    Comments (1279) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Dominic and David, a few questions about what you wrote:


    What sort of articles do you think IROs would want to write on Seeking Alpha if they would be widely syndicated?


    Would IROs be comfortable with the compliance issues?


    Would what they write be sufficiently differentiated from press releases, SEC filings and other information feeds?
    16 Apr 2010, 06:33 AM Reply Like
  • Dominic Jones
    , contributor
    Comments (72) | Send Message
    "What sort of articles do you think IROs would want to write on Seeking Alpha if they would be widely syndicated?"


    I don't think most IROs should write anything. Their executives and experts in their companies should write about what they know: industry trends, emerging issues, macro stuff that 1) investors say they want and, 2) that won't get them in trouble on Reg. FD.


    "Would IROs be comfortable with the compliance issues?"


    The compliance issues are the same for the web as they are in any other forum. If executives and IROs are comfortable doing one-one-ones in private where the risks are highest, posting stuff on the public web isn't an issue.


    "Would what they write be sufficiently differentiated from press releases, SEC filings and other information feeds?"


    Yes. There's not a whole lot of context in news releases, and SEC filings, while excellent sources of insight, are often heavily buttoned down and don't leave much scope for opinion. I see companies providing context around their businesses, industry issues, and perhaps raising issues of mutual interest to investors and executives e.g. short-termism, holdings disclosure etc.


    Of course, I'm sure there'll also be a ton of submissions designed promote a single company. But you can just refuse to syndicate those and they can remain as Instablogs that no one reads.
    16 Apr 2010, 07:19 PM Reply Like
  • Retired User
    , contributor
    Comments (1790) | Send Message
    I'd like to jump in here to suggest that SEC filings are hard to find, too often loaded with narrative puff or sometimes trivial notices of no use to investors, and never easy to navigate. Next complaint is company Investor Relations web pages that have nothing more recent than an annual report from two years ago.


    Personally, I would encourage SA to accept Instablogs, comments, and stock talks from anyone who was willing to become Certified (viz, identified and known to SA editors). Anonymous posters with no bio are the least courteous and least constructive.


    We have plenty of sell-side boosters and shills, some of whom are company specific and I suspect are paid to promote them. It's free expression. There's no reason SA should exclude staff or freelance IR contributors, provided they are identified as paid company reps.


    Seeking Alpha has a lot to offer small cap start-ups. It boggles the mind how huge our collective portfolio may be. Perhaps 20 billion?
    17 Apr 2010, 12:17 AM Reply Like
  • David Jackson
    , contributor
    Comments (1279) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Alan, we currently do accept Instablogs, comments and StockTalks from investor relations professionals and company executives. Anyone can use those tools. We bar people only if they misuse them, eg. for spam.
    18 Apr 2010, 01:21 AM Reply Like
  • David Jackson
    , contributor
    Comments (1279) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Dominic wrote: "Their executives and experts in their companies should write about what they know: industry trends, emerging issues, macro stuff that 1) investors say they want and, 2) that won't get them in trouble on Reg. FD."


    Does anyone know of any company doing this already?
    18 Apr 2010, 01:45 AM Reply Like
  • rich riker
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
    A part of my role in the past was to speak with the senior management of publicly traded firms. This included their investor relations departments. I can understand how they might be a little unsure of the value of posting here.


    Outside the additional regulatory issues and amount of work involved I would assume that they may not be convinced of the ultimate end audience. Thus, what value is it to them. They speak to a broad constituency of share holders, analysts and potential investors. Face it, it is easier to speak privately to your ten largest holders than an unknown audience. Also, many of these professionals are financial types and have little or no understanding of this technology. An interesting poll would be to see just how much they understand the medium.


    I would also assume it might also be a similar view of Twitter and other social media. it becomes a discussion of how you can "educate" them about your value. For me, I would start with those whose earnings transcripts you publish. Quantify the Seeking Alpha users who read them. It will be a slow learning process but this social media phenomena will invade their turf.
    15 Apr 2010, 03:41 PM Reply Like
  • David Jackson
    , contributor
    Comments (1279) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Rich, thanks for your comment. You're right that IROs will naturally care about their largest stockholders over anyone else.


    But the question is whether they should care also about *potential* owners of their stock as well, and how much effort is justified in reaching them.
    15 Apr 2010, 04:36 PM Reply Like
  • Jake Huneycutt
    , contributor
    Comments (1423) | Send Message
    Good idea on quantifying the stats behind earnings call transcripts.


    Fwiw, I use Seeking Alpha very regularly for that and it's one of the more important pieces of my research process. I'm always disappointed when a company doesn't have its earnings call transcripts posted on here.
    16 Apr 2010, 02:00 PM Reply Like
  • Alex Morris
    , contributor
    Comments (681) | Send Message
    Great quote from the article: "Our readers are not day traders. They are the investor base companies want to own their stock: investment professionals and serious individual investors." This is the exact reason why I use SeekingAlpha and avoid using other "investment" websites, which are full of day traders. In the words of Mr. Buffett, calling these people investors is like calling someone who consistently engages in one night stands a "romantic". Keep up the great work David.


    Alex Morris
    15 Apr 2010, 11:00 PM Reply Like
  • David Jackson
    , contributor
    Comments (1279) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Alex, thanks for highlighting this. It's a point widely misunderstood, particularly as companies and IROs start to ask themselves how they can use social media for their benefit.


    Currently, a significant percentage of the people who use Twitter to discuss stocks are day traders (see dealbook.blogs.nytimes...). That's an unappealing audience because (1) IR professionals want to communicate with, and build a shareholder base among long term investors, and (2) day traders who focus mainly on charts usually have no interest in IR information about a company's business and financial performance.


    Contrast that with Seeking Alpha. We provide the richest social media functionality for finance on the Web (StockTalk, Instablogs, Followers/Following, comment tracking, direct messaging and Facebook/Twitter integration), and have a large and high quality user base - over 2.5 million unique monthly visitors (verified at www.quantcast.com/seek...) and the highest percentage of financial professionals of any major finance website.
    16 Apr 2010, 01:26 AM Reply Like
  • darrellheaps
    , contributor
    Comments (4) | Send Message
    David, as you know, you and I have had the opportunity to speak about including company content on Seeking Alpha and I’ve been able to have a number of chats with other Seeking Alpha staff about the pilot project you were going to put in place for companies and IROs.


    I was surprised when I heard a while back that the decision had been made to cancel the pilot program as we had a few clients ready to start (each receives considerable coverage on Seeking Alpha) and as I understood there were around 10 companies in total ready to start?


    In order for companies to use a new service there has to be early adopters willing to test the waters. This applies to all markets but for IROs it is even more so. The pilot program would have given these early adopters this ability and once these companies started using it, those of us that are pro investor social media would blog, tweet and talk about how companies were using it. This would cause other companies to take a deeper look and adoption would build.


    I understand your position that companies are free to use StockTalk and Instablogs, however this relegates them as 2nd class citizens. They should be treated as contributors and identified as such (I believe the the pilot program did this). Your editors can obviously choose what gets syndicated (if anything) but on the site I think companies should be treated as equals.


    Your opening paragraph indicates a concern that if IROs were contributors they would only use the site to pump their stock. I don't think this is the case because companies are governed by their own policies (in terms of promotion) and regulation. Also, the backlash from the community on Seeking Alpha will self-regulate if companies aren't providing value. For an example of what companies could post check out IR blogs like:




    I think the the opportunity for Seeking Alpha is to become a professional and transparent community for investors AND companies to engage. If companies are treated as 2nd class citizens, I just don’t think they are going to participate.


    Perhaps your expectations were too high for the pilot. In my opinion you need to start with how ever many companies will participate and build from there. If you’re waiting for companies and IROs to come to you on mass it’s never going to happen.


    16 Apr 2010, 08:59 AM Reply Like
  • Dominic Jones
    , contributor
    Comments (72) | Send Message
    The blogs Darrell offers are typical of what is available right now. That's not saying much unfortunately.


    But I think Seeking Alpha might provide an incentive for corporate blogs to offer up some better content if there was an opportunity to syndicate the content to Yahoo! Finance and other partners.
    16 Apr 2010, 07:07 PM Reply Like
  • David Jackson
    , contributor
    Comments (1279) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Darrel, thanks for your comment, and in particular the links.


    These blog posts are different in nature from the articles we publish on SA. They may be helpful to investors, but in many cases have the feeling of being "infomercials", which is understandable given who's writing them. If you look at the Cisco IR blog (blogs.cisco.com/tag/ea...), you'll also see that many of the posts are short links to video, press releases or other sources.


    Wouldn't StockTalk be suffiicent here? The authors could post a link to their blog post on StockTalk. That way they'd keep their own blogs on their own sites, but would get the info to our readers with little additional effort.
    18 Apr 2010, 01:36 AM Reply Like
  • David Jackson
    , contributor
    Comments (1279) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Dominic, I'm skeptical that SA offering greater exposure would change what company executives and IROs write.
    18 Apr 2010, 01:39 AM Reply Like
  • Dominic Jones
    , contributor
    Comments (72) | Send Message
    Perhaps we can crowd source a couple of article templates for them, online forms with questions for them to answer They're used to that format. :-)


    Seriously, though, I think IR people will adjust what they write if they know there's a chance their articles could be featured on SA and syndicated to Yahoo! Finance and elsewhere. And those who aren't producing content outside of what they're required to for compliance may be attracted to start.


    No promises, though.
    18 Apr 2010, 03:07 PM Reply Like
  • Greg Merrill
    , contributor
    Comments (84) | Send Message
    I'm glad to see this discussion.


    I'm sure there are others like myself who research companies before buying the stock and I see an opportunity for SA and IR people.


    Quite often the investor presentations provided by companies on their web sites are good but don't go far enough in providing detail or updated information. SA could provide a forum for those questions and answers session that would assist both the buyer (me) and the seller (IR / company)


    Instead of answering the same question 50 times an IR professional can hopefully cut down on common topical responses by having a 'IR forum for COMPANY XYZ'


    Some filtering should be in place to prevent flames/ trolls but it may help both sides Reg FD can easily be satisfied as SA is a public location.


    I dislike the idea of using twitter to read or post because while I try to keep my writings brief < 140 characters is to nanosecondattentionspan for me. . .
    16 Apr 2010, 05:56 PM Reply Like
  • Retired User
    , contributor
    Comments (1790) | Send Message
    Hmm. I doubt IR people are prepared to grapple with hard questions and hecklers in the comments. They prefer the one-way street of press releases.
    16 Apr 2010, 06:06 PM Reply Like
  • Dominic Jones
    , contributor
    Comments (72) | Send Message
    Definitely some truth in what Alan says. However, when you have little or no sell-side coverage and no one knows about your company or you stock is thinly traded, a few trolls and tough questions are a small price to pay. Still, it's a tough thing to sell to execs unaccustomed to being questioned.
    16 Apr 2010, 07:01 PM Reply Like
  • Karen Mulvany
    , contributor
    Comments (26) | Send Message
    Personally, I think it would be tremendously useful to see company sponsored articles on Seeking Alpha. Sure, your readers want to know what investors think about stocks. But - indisputably - they want to know what companies have to say too. While your concerns about reader confusion with contributor opinions are understandable, you can easily set up your site so that it's clear what content is coming from companies and what content is coming from commentators.


    Having worked as a sell side analyst, an IR consultant and as an officer of a public company, I believe that a company IR blog area within Seeking Alpha would indeed be tremendously useful for both companies and investors. From time to time companies may need a forum that is more informal than a press release yet meets the test as a media outlet for Reg FD requirements. Some companies such as GE have IR blogs on their own websites but these need to be aggregated to be useful and noticeable to investors.


    However, Seeking Alpha would need to make some changes:


    1. Seeking Alpha should differentiate company input in the same way you differentiate transcripts from other articles, so that it is set apart from other commentary both to indicate that the content adheres to different guidelines and to make it easy for investors to locate.


    2. Seeking Alpha, as others have mentioned, will need to create a new set of rules for company sponsored content. For example, company officials will not be willing to disclose their investment positions in any other companies mentioned in their commentary. Also, for obvious legal reasons, Seeking Alpha's right to modify titles or content would not be viable for company sponsored input. I suspect that companies will need to retain the right to modify or delete their internally generated content at any time for legal reasons as well. Seeking Alpha will need to establish which individuals at a given public company are authorized to provide IR commentary, and ensure that you have secure authentication procedures in place so that Seeking Alpha does not inadventantly publish fraudulent information from some short seller posing as a company officer.


    3. I like the Q&A idea too but companies will probably want to review the Qs and select the ones they answer (for example, "when did you stop beating your wife" type questions won't make the cut.)
    16 Apr 2010, 11:40 PM Reply Like
  • David Jackson
    , contributor
    Comments (1279) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Karen et al,


    Would companies want their content to be hosted by SA, or would they prefer outbound links to their own websites (with prominent promotion)?
    18 Apr 2010, 03:32 AM Reply Like
  • Karen Mulvany
    , contributor
    Comments (26) | Send Message
    Belated answer to David's question:


    Honestly, I'm not sure whether companies would prefer links to their own blogsites over direct inclusion on Seeking Alpha pages. Clearly links to their own sites would allow companies to retain full control -- which their GCs would be more likely to endorse. On the other hand, as an investor, I would much prefer to stay on the Seeking Alpha site and see company content embedded directly. Much of the benefit of aggregating company blogs on Seeking Alpha would be lost by merely including links -- it's too hard to scan.


    To follow up on Alan von Altendorf's position that companies should abide by the same requirements as other contributors, the problem is that other contributors are not subject to litigation for what they write. Without control companies will not be able to participate. Period.


    If the q&a's were posted by people who used their real names and also disclosed their own short and long positions on all stocks mentioned by them and in the article, perhaps companies would be willing to let all posted q&a's stand. But if any anonymous short seller can post a "when did you stop beating your wife" type question that's basically entrapment, the format will be seen as problematic, and to my mind, rightfully so. Sure, some companies will nix tough questions that they don't want to answer. But how is that worse than having no information from them at all?


    Lastly, I agree with Keith Shaefer's comments. Almost everybody who posts on Seeking Alpha is biased, or else they wouldn't bother to post. That's a given. It's ensuring that readers know where the bias lies that's important.
    22 Apr 2010, 02:33 PM Reply Like
  • Retired User
    , contributor
    Comments (1790) | Send Message
    On Karen's third point ("when did you stop beating your wife"), I think it's important for company IR content to be on an absolutely level playing field with most other contributor content, no special rules or protections. If they publish, they can reply to comments or ignore them if they wish. But to evade a question or comment by John Lounsbury, Tim Price or Joe Shaefer? Hah. Rotsaruck. In my own area of professional interest, I'd ask some tough questions. You can depend on it.
    17 Apr 2010, 12:32 AM Reply Like
  • David Jackson
    , contributor
    Comments (1279) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Alan, you touch on an important point here. In the past, companies have said to us that they don't want to respond to comments and participate in a discussion, even when it's moderated by Seeking Alpha editors, because they're concerned that the playing field is potentially hostile.


    I wonder whether there's also another issue. Conversations have their own momentum and can lead in unpredictable directions. Perhaps IR people are worried that they'll get drawn into a discussion that might lead to material disclosures or other compliance related issues. It would be interesting to hear from the IR people in this thread about that.
    18 Apr 2010, 03:38 AM Reply Like
  • Greg Merrill
    , contributor
    Comments (84) | Send Message
    It is true they may get sucked in by the trolls, but instead of an instant response the IR folks could collect questions and form a response a few days later. Just because you can respond instantly doesn't mean you should . . .


    If you want some fun reading look up the responses by IR to analysts questions at Expediters Intl (EXPD) they positively rip into the lame questions asked by analysts. Makes the questions offered up by SA posters look positively brilliant sometimes.
    20 Apr 2010, 06:25 PM Reply Like
  • David Jackson
    , contributor
    Comments (1279) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Greg, do you mean on their conference call?
    21 Apr 2010, 11:21 AM Reply Like
  • Greg Merrill
    , contributor
    Comments (84) | Send Message
    No, I mean their ' selected inquiries' on their investor page




    Its some funny stuff :)
    21 Apr 2010, 06:52 PM Reply Like
  • David Jackson
    , contributor
    Comments (1279) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Thanks, Greg.


    Their answers are excellent. But this reinforces the impression that companies aren't comfortable interacting with investors in real time on the Web -- their answers to questions were filed with the SEC, are presented as a downloadable PDF (!), and offer no opportunity for follow up questions.


    I'm not pointing this out to criticize them. Rather, watching how companies behave in practice tells you a lot about their genuine concerns and what types of interaction they're comfortable with.
    22 Apr 2010, 05:08 AM Reply Like
  • Ricard
    , contributor
    Comments (3814) | Send Message
    "Should we accept IR people as Contributors? No, because it wouldn't be best for our readers."


    While I agree with the idea behind this opinion, I do not agree with the implementation. Just like the debate to legalize illegal drugs, it may be better to regulate than deny access by simply demanding that IR reps caveat their posts with a large message that says "I am an IR rep for this company".


    Why? Because it is all too easy for an IR rep denied this avenue to post as an 'investor' touting their company, not that recognition would prevent them from doing so anyway.


    Sometimes the obstacle for investors is not whitewashing by an IR team, but simply not getting enough information about a stock. Just my two cents.
    18 Apr 2010, 07:53 AM Reply Like
  • I.H.
    , contributor
    Comments (24) | Send Message
    Ricard: You could have them on the site as "IR Reps", not as contributors. A 3rd category different from both regular users and full blow SA contributors.


    Has anyone seen this interesting post "Investor Relations 2.0 - Is Seeking Alpha the Answer?"




    It has some interesting insights.
    18 Apr 2010, 10:51 AM Reply Like
  • David Jackson
    , contributor
    Comments (1279) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » IH, thanks for your comment. Our experience was that most companies were not comfortable with real time interactions with investors, probably largely due to compliance considerations.
    22 Apr 2010, 05:09 AM Reply Like
  • Oil and Gas Investments Bul...
    , contributor
    Comments (22) | Send Message
    Interesting thread. Two quick comments -
    1) Very sophisticated audience here compared to almost anywhere else, and they can see through PR fluff better than anyone, so if a "booster" article was posted, this audience would see through it and the offending company would quickly realize (if they bothered to take the time to monitor that sort of thing) that postings that don't contain good, solid information will get punished
    2) I believe there are lots of posters on SA who are somehow compensated by the companies, and if they're not, their articles are so biased they should be. Again, the market here, the audience, ends up making a group decision on the credibility of the article and poster.


    So I don't see being an IR flack as a big deal at all, as long as it's disclosed. Then you can take it FWIW.
    18 Apr 2010, 01:30 PM Reply Like
  • Osiso
    , contributor
    Comments (54) | Send Message
    Recommendation: Set up an IR 'beta' folder. A venue for Q&A w/ IR. Small investors like me can't always get in touch with IR, especially if we are trying to get information from an IR who manages three companies.


    If it does not work due to low user traffic/feedback get rid of it.


    Let the users decide if IR reports are worthwhile or not. I would like to see it.
    24 Apr 2010, 12:41 PM Reply Like
  • Donald Johnson
    , contributor
    Comments (786) | Send Message
    While I haven't blogged on investing for awhile, I will sooner than later. I blog as a retired financial writer who is a speculator and investor.


    What has bugged me is that investors relations people won't take calls from bloggers who are writing about their companies and stocks. They prefer to talk to Reuters, Bloomberg and Dow Jones/AP as well as buy side and sell side analysts. This is even though whatever those organizations write about the companies gets as "buried" as anything that is written about a company for a blog or Seeking Alpha.


    What IRs don't realize or care about is that bloggers have more time, expertise and space to write about a company than the mainstream and financial media do. And their articles are read by more people than a lot of analysts' reports are. Also, some bloggers are a lot less conflicted and more objective and fair than the analysts are.


    In my experience, many IR folks are very smart and very good writers. They're also used to playing by the rules, protecting their bosses and staying out of trouble. They're pretty risk averse.


    Executives write articles for trade pubs all of the time. Those who write such articles tend to be strong, bold and proud of what they are doing. They are good writers and clear thinkers. Not all executives can write or like to write. Not all are used to talking straight with anyone, and many are where they are because they are good corporate politicians, not good entrepreneurs or leaders.


    So SA's challenge is to seek out executives who are known as people who like to communicate and sell. It also could figure out a way to help its contributors who aren't analysts or money managers get through to IR folks and CEOs, etc.


    The best kind of articles that corporate executives can write are those that talk about new technologies, market trends and the impact of new laws and regulations on their industries. If an executive shows expertise and analytical skills, I think that will help the executive's career and company.


    And, no, I don't think I ever published an article by a PR person except when they wrote for my marketing and pr publications.
    6 May 2010, 09:28 PM Reply Like
  • David Jackson
    , contributor
    Comments (1279) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Donald, that was a great comment. Thank you.


    Are there any examples of articles by corporate executives for trade publications that you can link to? It would be useful to see a few examples.
    9 May 2010, 06:47 AM Reply Like
  • ETFreplay
    , contributor
    Comments (218) | Send Message
    At my old buyside job --- a LOT of time was spent travelling to investment conferences to meet many company executives (often this meant directors of Investor Relations people if CEO/CFO couldn't make it).


    As you may be aware, the standard set-up was 1) big presentation in hotel ballroom with canned powerpoint pitch by company (not that useful unless just seeing company for first time) 2) 'breakout session' with a room of analysts and the executive(s) taking questions from all 3) private meetings where 1 or a 2 buyside participants get to talk to management behind closed doors for 30-60 mins.


    My comment would be for SA to basically do something like this --- actually have 'breakout sessions' for Q&A. There is no logical disclosure reason not to ---- these types of meetings occur every single week of the year to institutional investors and with Reg FD, it is illegal for information to flow into these that is material and non-public. However, in practicality ---- if you sit with targeted Q&A session for 30 mins with an executive, its pretty clear that this is 'fuzzy' area of Reg FD. more often than not, significant information does flow out of these. (I should note that this it is not uncommon for the representative from the company to refuse to answer some questions. As the topic gets too 'material' --- they might default to a refererence to the last officially updated 'guidance' at the time of the last earnings release/conference call.)


    I cannot see a reason why institutional investors should be able to do this and a website should not, given Reg FD. Given the sophisticated nature of the users of SA, this wouldn't be the spam comments like the Yahoo message board. perhaps only those 'certified' could ask questions.


    Would love your comments David as I am sure you have considered something like this....?
    9 May 2010, 09:23 AM Reply Like
  • Dominic Jones
    , contributor
    Comments (72) | Send Message
    Came back here because I just encountered a need that isn't being met. I was on a company's profile page here on Seeking Alpha and I wanted to ask them a question. Rather than go to their website or send them a private message on SA, I wanted to post the question publicly on their page and get their answer back publicly on the site and via email.


    So how about an "Ask This Member a Question" feature? It should be optional, something members choose to turn on if they're willing to answer questions. And there should be a mechanism for people to subscribe to the Q&A stream via email and web feed to be updated whenever there is a new Q or A. And Q&A posters should be able to share their post/comment to their socnet accounts.


    This addresses the previous comment to some extent. BTW, Formspring is a site that has taken Q&A to a new level www.formspring.me/irwe...


    Just a thought.
    25 Jul 2010, 04:59 AM Reply Like
  • David Jackson
    , contributor
    Comments (1279) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Interesting, Dominic - also something we've discussed.


    How comfortable are companies to answer questions in public? And will they be happy answering them on sites other than their own IR websites?
    25 Jul 2010, 08:54 AM Reply Like
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