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Avon, Twitter and Fraudulent Communications

In only a few months, two prominent brands – Avon and Twitter – had erroneous news reported that they were the targets of takeovers. In the case of Avon, this was the result of a fraudulent filing that took place in the Edgar database of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Yesterday, a phony “look-alike” site containing the Bloomberg name reported that Twitter was being sold.

Whether someone is looking to reap some sort of pecuniary gain or this is the beginning of a trend to manipulate the financial markets, there is a serious lesson to be learned.  The Internet is a great thing and a great resource.  At the same time, it is dangerous if we don’t keep its value in perspective.

With respect to public company information, there are only a few places where you can be certain that the information posted is authentic.  Since we launched theIRapp three years ago, we have stressed the importance of a company’s IR website and IR app as the way to ensure that the public has instantaneous and authentic access to company generate information and content.  If investors and the media rely on other Internet-based sources (and even the SEC’s database), then look what happens – Avon and Twitter.

Nearly every public company has an investor section on its corporate website. This is the by-product of the advancement of the Internet and the SEC’s Reg FD more than 15 years ago (believe it or not).  However, as computing moves to mobile, things are once again changing.  Many great companies have embraced the importance of having a mobile IR strategy (search the app stores for “theIRapp, llc” and you will see who).  However, to the extent investors and the media are reliant on their smart devices for immediate information, shouldn’t all companies now have a mobile IR strategy?

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NIRI Annual 2015 Recap

Having just returned from Chicago after our fourth year exhibiting at the National Investor Relations Institute’s annual conference, I wanted to share a few thoughts regarding the adoption of mobile technology in the investor relations industry:

  • Overall, we had great conversations with IROs from companies of all sizes and industries. There was particular interest in theCONFERENCEapp product that allows companies to have a native app for their analyst days and to be able to aggregate all of their presentations and other company information neatly on the mobile device. The ability to save paper and also make 11th hour changes to presentations was especially interesting to them.
  • IROs recognize that the buy- and sell-side are increasingly becoming dependent on their mobile devices in their work. It’s hard to ignore the fact that nearly everyone has a mobile device with them when they attend analyst days, investor conferences and one-on-one meetings. One IRO we spoke with mentioned that given the ability to take notes on .PDF files contained in their IR app, it wouldn’t surprise him if investors slowly but surely stop using traditional spiral notebooks.
  • Almost everyone we spoke with realizes that the future of technology and communications is mobile. And, it was great to see some of theIRapp customers (Edwards Lifesciences, Phillip Morris and Tyson Foods, among others) who, over the past few years, have pioneered the use of mobile technology in their IR work. However, there still are companies who view mobile as supplemental to current communications methodologies and not necessary. My take on this – times are a-changing.

Looking forward to NIRI 2016 in San Diego!

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Mobile World Congress: Connected Living

Mobile World Congress, one of the biggest mobile shows in the world, took place last week in Barcelona. As always, the conference attracted the mobile industries top players including Samsung, Android, Sony, LG, and HTC. This year, a major underlying theme across the 1,800+ exhibitors on the floor was connected living. Technology is quickly moving beyond phones and tablets and toward watches and other wearable devices. Chinese telecom giant Huawei unveiled a smartwatch that became one of the most talked about products of the event, with a design based more on a traditional watch than the flat wristbands that we have become used to seeing.

The conference was home to other innovative product announcements, including iris recognition smartphone technology, virtual reality devices, and—demonstrating just how much technology is intersecting with our everyday lives—Ikea even unveiled furniture that can charge your phone.

Fitness bands used to track your health and exercise activity also dominated the conference, including one created by HTC and Under Armour. Volvo, Renault-Nissan and other manufacturers premiered connected cars that are far more connected than ever before and include gesture controls, remote locks controlled via smartphones, video conferencing and real-time road safety analysis and communication.

Personalized technology is in our immediate future and based on what we saw at Mobile World Congress, we will have many choices about who provides us with it. Mobile technology will be the connector between health and fitness, entertainment, finance, transportation and of course communications in our daily lives. We are quickly nearing the point where technology will be part of everything we do!

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