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Tips and Guidelines in Setting Up an Investor Relations Facebook or Twitter Page
January 5, 2011 (Price Target Media) Carson City, NV - There's a gold rush on to tout social media services to public companies as the 'new media' format for investor relations campaigns. The only trouble is law firms are still working out guidelines for their clients to follow in setting up Corporate Twitter accounts and Facebook pages and I believe that a word of caution is due about the topic in general.
While the real-time lure of communicating with shareholders through social media is enticing to corporate executives, simply putting up a Twitter page is not enough. You have to follow some basic guidelines, so I've put together some information with links for corporate executives, lawyers still on the learning curve and investor relations practitioners who might gain a better understanding of how to navigate the social media jungle.
Frank Aquila and Sarah Payne with the law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell wrote a paper about the many challenges for investor relations and corporate legal departments in this new era of blogs, Facebook and Twitter as it relates to preparing Guidelines for companies and investor relations practitioners to follow. Here is an excerpt.
Msgrs Aquila and Payne stated that, "Because these forums are real or near-time communications that can survive indefinitely with little or no ability to fix errors, and are often in abbreviated formats, corporate legal departments need to work closely with investor relations and press departments to craft guidelines for using these communication outlets." Truer words where never spoken, as it relates to social IR.
Corporate Eye outlines "The Complete Twitter Strategy Rules Guide for Investor Relations." While its hardly [Complete], its written rather well and is more geared toward investor relations practitioners and corporate executives alike. I read with interest and found a lot of the information to be accurate and simple to understand- sort of a 101 level course in what to do before you Tweet.
In a speech given July 30, 2008, Kim McManus Special Counsel, Division of Corporation Finance U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, said the SEC issued an interpretive release to provide additional guidance and greater certainty on how companies can use their web sites to provide information to investors in compliance with the federal securities laws. In it, the SEC said, "posting of information on a company web site disseminates the information in a manner making it available to the securities marketplace in general."
Since the Guidance was released, it's been interpreted to mean it's OK for blogs to be used to disseminate public information. Not long after the SEC post McManus' Speech, Ross Dawson, a self-proclaimed "futurist", said on his blog: "The SEC appears to be moving ahead at a swift pace, despite cries from some, particularly in the news release business, that the old system shouldn't be changed."
The SEC released its Interpretative Guidance on August 7, 2008.
While Dawson saw the bloggersphere (social media) as a threat to news wires way back in 08', some in the investor relations field feel it's a threat to their livelihood as well, as if to say that companies will rely on Twitter, Facebook and their website more than their IR agency. I find that will be a dry hole too.
While Price Target Media firmly believes social media posting is great, the pitfalls and liabilities are just as great and we recommend companies and their Agents spend some time brushing up on what they can and cannot do online - then, talk to their securities lawyers and get some help setting up a guideline to follow. If you do that, social media can be a very effective communications tool.
For more information contact:
Price Target Media, Inc.
Eric Stevenson, President