corporate blogs and
social media How SEO can get
your IR news noticed
and SEO New media
A n e d u cAt I o n A l S u p p l e m e n t to I R m AgA z I n e
Are blogs fair disclosure? s the web evolves, it’s no act as a starting point for dialogue
longer safe to assume with online participants. Conversation
Jonathan Schwartz is not only your investors are getting is in, authoritative opinions are out.
CEO of Sun Microsystems, he’s their information just from
also a well-known blogger (www. mainstream media. They The rise of social media
blogs.sun.com/jonathan). Last may be browsing sites like Digg or The online encyclopedia, Wikipedia,
year he asked the SEC to change Reddit, which rate news items by how defines social media as ‘the online
Regulation FD so that Sun and many clicks they receive, to find out technologies and practices that
others could announce material how others are prioritizing top stories people use to share content, opinions,
news on their company websites. of the day. If you’re a tech company, insights, experiences, perspectives
a specialized social media site like and media.’ Popular social media
Although the SEC didn’t agree, Technorati may be more influential tools include message boards,
its chairman, Christopher Cox, than the Wall Street Journal. podcasts, social bookmark sites,
did post a positive comment last In the past wire services and blogs and wikis (collaborative
November on Schwartz’s blog, newspapers culled the most impor- websites that are edited by users). In
raising the profile of corporate tant stories, researched and wrote short, social media are community-
blogs considerably. them as articles that were then driven, online information exchanges.
professionally edited, and presented Growth in social media has been
A March 2007 online survey of to a paying audience. Today people phenomenal. According to Alexa
CIRI members conducted by can extract or ‘pull’ exactly the Internet, nine of the top 20 US sites
Marketwire found that one in information they want from a wildly are social media sites: Blogger, Digg
four IROs at companies without uneven but up-to-the-minute YouTube, Wikipedia, MySpace, Flickr,
corporate blogs think a blog could collection of information on the web. Facebook, CraigsList and Orkut.
enhance shareholder dialogue. Pull models are unforgiving, What’s more, 39 percent of online
However, 55 percent of those though. If your press release doesn’t Americans, around 57 mn people,
IROs oppose corporate blogs. appear high in the search engine read blogs, according to the Pew
They worry about a lack of control results, your announcement may Internet & American Life Project. And
over potentially negative, false be lost. What’s more, many popular a study by Redboots, a consulting firm
or misleading commentary, and social media sites aggregate rankings that helps companies increase their
they are concerned about liability that tell users what other readers internet traffic, found that 77 percent
and disclosure risks. consider high-quality information. of people consider blogs a good way
Even the New York Times has begun to get information on a company.
But corporate blogs are not to rate its 10 most popular articles A recent Marketwire study of IR
really so radical. No matter how on its website. The mechanisms of blogging habits found 33 percent of
freewheeling they purport to be, such rankings must be understood the mega-caps surveyed have a blog.
they still pass through the same if you want your news to get noticed. And 87 percent of the 114 respondents
legal and disclosure vetting What’s striking about social are open to the idea of posting content
process as press releases or media sites is that instead of sending including product/service announce-
other official documents. information to a passive audience they ments, earnings releases and M&A
6.ii IR guide New web trends – social media and SEO
Top 10 social networking sites In August 2006 Cisco podcast its learn by example
first earnings call and logged an
mySpace Aol Hometown
additional 6,000 downloads in the first Here are a few social media sites
blogger Yahoo! three days. It then began placing its worth exploring:
monthly tech talks on its IR site, while
classmates online mSn Spaces
making 10 to 15-minute highlights ✜ TechCrunch (www.techcrunch.
Youtube SixApart typepad available as podcasts. Cisco recently com). A positive write-up from
started posting its earnings releases TechCrunch, a blog chronicling
mSn groups Xanga.com
on one of its four islands in Second web start-ups, usually spurs
Source: Nielsen/NetRatings Life, an online virtual world. calls from venture capitalists.
Cisco’s blogging activities show its
developments on a corporate blog commitment to new media. At first, ✜ Dogpile (www.dogpile.com).
as long as they continue to retain Gibson says, the company fretted Described as ‘the best search
control of the content. about letting the public comment on engines piled into one’, this
every issue, however sensitive. ‘We site consolidates results from
A new role for IR hunkered down and expected a lot different search engines.
For decades IROs have served as of bad staff to happen, but it didn’t,’
stewards of financial filings, preserv- she says. In fact, Cisco found, ‘the ✜ Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.
ing a company’s reputation and conversations are very targeted.’ com). Wikipedia is a user-
preventing any embarrassing regula- Gibson believes blogs are useful generated encyclopedia with
tory glitches. Social media offer IROs for setting the record straight. When nearly 2 mn articles in English.
a new role, letting them promote their Yahoo!, Google and Cisco were Is your company listed? If so,
company’s financial performance by accused of modifying their routers what’s being said about it?
bringing results to a wider audience. so the Chinese government could Correcting false or outdated
By learning to use online tools, restrict information, Cisco posted information on Wikipedia
IROs can present analyst days or its congressional testimony denying makes sense because all users
earnings releases in formats investors the allegation on its public blog. are welcome to edit content.
like best. Blogging, social bookmarking ‘The reporters never went to public
and search engine optimization (SEO) relations, they read our blog.’ ✜ YouTube (www.youtube.com).
can all help ensure your IR message Gibson warns that blogging isn’t Anyone can post videos on this
gets attention. for everyone. It’s best for firms site. Should your most recent
As a technology company, Cisco comfortable with open debate. But analyst day be available here?
Systems’ IR has embraced all types she believes IROs should familiarize
of new media, from podcasting to themselves with blogs because ✜ MySpace (www.myspace.com).
corporate blogging to initial ventures ‘what’s being mentioned can hit your This site exemplifies the social
into virtual worlds. ‘We want to reach reputation.’ It’s also important to have network concept: certain
more outlets with our story,’ says policies in place governing new media demographic or psychographic
Jeanette Gibson, director of corporate ‘because you’re legally responsible types come together to interact
communications and new media. for information you’re giving out.’ with one another.
New web trends – social media and SEO IR guide 6.iii
Reaching the blogosphere nvestors eagerly ferreting out rated on social media sites like
information about your company Technorati or del.icio.us, all of a
Communicating with bloggers may sound like a gift. However, the sudden a casual remark can assume
isn’t the same as communicating gift comes with strings attached. a life of its own. IROs need to begin
with traditional media outlets. Social communities tend to monitoring what’s being said on the
If bloggers sense you’re pushing respond poorly to overt marketing better-trafficked blogs.
unwelcome or biased information efforts. They prize independence and When venturing into the blogo-
on them, they may get testy and sometimes their assessment of your sphere for the first time, begin with
turn against you. company and its performance may blogs dedicated to a subject you know
not be to your liking. well. Blogs exploring your industry,
Step one is to know your bloggers. Today’s bloggers want to evaluate the IR profession or the corporate
Blogs are idiosyncratic. Reading whether stocks are good buys or blogs of direct competitors are all
the same few on a regular basis not, but their methods for doing so good places to start.
will soon give you a sense of their aren’t orthodox. For an IRO trained in
preoccupations and the type of dealing with financial analysts and Firing back?
story they gravitate toward. large institutional investors, commu- Clearly contributing to blogs anony-
nicating with social media outlets mously is risky. But should an IRO
Instead of ‘pushing’ news to requires an entirely different mindset. who notices something unfavorable or
bloggers, consider your interac- untrue being said about his company
tions a conversation. So you might Read the blogs set the record straight? In principle,
email a blogger with an interesting In 2005 someone called Rahodeb deciding whether to respond to blog
news item, even if it doesn’t entered Yahoo! Finance and opined rumors or innuendo is similar to
directly relate to your company. that no company would buy Wild Oats deciding whether to respond to other
at its price of around $8 a share. types of market rumors. However,
Contrary to conventional Rahodeb turned out to be the online some of the particulars are different.
wisdom, bloggers are receptive pseudonym for Jack Mackey, CEO of It’s important to incorporate provisions
to mainstream news sources. Whole Foods, who offered to buy Wild for countering rumors on blogs
According to a June 2007 survey Oats for $18.50 a share a year later. into your general communications
by Marketwire, 66 percent of This incident provoked a firestorm policies. The main difference between
bloggers request press releases of controversy about blogs. Was blog rumors and other forms of rumor
from newswires, a number that Mackey trying to manipulate Wild is that the sentiments expressed in
continues to grow. The study Oats’ stock price to get a better price? blogs tend to spread unusually rapidly.
also found that 39 percent of Or was he simply playing devil’s Instead of having days to act, you may
bloggers prefer press releases advocate and having a little fun? The have only hours.
in multi-media format. SEC is investigating Mackey’s commu- As with any rumor, offense is the
nications to determine whether he best defense. Using the latest social
broke any securities laws. media to keep investors informed
If a blogger discusses your may prevent false impressions from
organization and the blog is highly forming in the first place.
6.iv IR guide New web trends – social media and SEO
Regulatory requirements multimedia elements, such as the Social bookmarking
company’s logo, a headshot of the
Does a corporate website or blog
satisfy Reg FD? principal, and a PDF version of all For over a decade the internet
the key materials. Social media has featured sites where people
Strongly support earnings releases may also contain can share their favorite online
26.32% links to analyst calls as podcasts, bookmarks. In fact, 28 percent
Somewhat support and perhaps a video of a new product. of users have tagged online
13.16% And downloadable PDFs of the most content via social bookmarking
Neither oppose nor support recent annual report or PowerPoint sites, according to the Pew
36.84% presentations now find a home in Internet & American Life Project.
Somewhat oppose the social media release.
15.79% The social media release also Today sites such as Reddit, Digg
features links to del.icio.us pages and Newsvine apply the social
and to really simple syndication (RSS) bookmarking concept to news
feeds for more information and items. Other sites, such as del.
updated coverage. Various ‘Technorati icio.us, Diigo, Furl and Stumble-
Tags’ are also included, so that your Upon, bring a wider range of
Source: Marketwire news can be viewed at this site. web discoveries to light. They are
To see a social media release, places where visitors can happen
The social media release visit http:///www.shiftcomm.com/ upon great web content because
In 2006 Shift Communications Web20Releases/52/5232006.html. others happened upon the same
published a template companies can content first – and took the time
use for transforming their traditional To blog or not to blog? to share it.
press releases into social media Reasons for having a corporate blog
releases. This provides all the How can public companies get
Disseminate information quickly
necessary links and content for their content noticed by the
a press release to be used by the individuals publishing the most
new social media outlets. Post own content without popular social bookmarking sites?
A social media release doesn’t One way is by providing direct
mimic a news story like a traditional links to those sites.
press release. Instead it provides Direct tie to company
the components, or raw ingredients, On the web, content is still king.
necessary for putting together a If you can create an IR site with
story in almost any format. Cost savings information that appeals to
The most salient facts in a social 16.78% bloggers and other arbiters of
media release appear as a series of Demonstrate technological leadership net excellence, you’ll be rewarded
bullets. These are then supplemented 9.09% in the new online meritocracy.
by a section of quotations from senior Source: Marketwire
executives. The release also provides
New web trends – social media and SEO IR guide 6.v
SEO for IROs
opening a social ost people turn to search the initial pages of an online
media newsroom engines to find the document, the better. Consider
online information they building specific landing pages for
Unlike a traditional newsroom, want. According to the your major keywords. This ensures
a social media newsroom is Pew Internet & American that searchers arrive at the precise
interactive. It enables a company’s Life Project, 38 mn Americans use part of your site they want to see
various audiences to access and search engines each day, making it and aren’t put off by having to
subscribe to any amount of a the most popular online activity after click through pages and pages
company’s official content sources. email. Nielson/NetRatings and Media of irrelevant information.
It also facilitates direct conversa- Metrix arrives at similar findings: ✜ Include metatags. Metatags are
tions with investors and other almost 85 percent of internet users special HTML ‘tags’ which provide
individuals about news releases use search engines to find new additional information about a web
on a company’s official website. websites, and one in every 28 pages page. A number of search engines
viewed is a search results page. use metatags to catalog pages
Ideally, the social media SEO – a set of methods aimed more accurately.
newsroom will be the repository at improving the visibility of a web ✜ consider keyword density. Experts
for everything that’s being publicly document or website in search engine suggest optimizing your press
said about your company. The rankings – is perhaps the best way release with no more than three
newsroom tracks all comments to get your earnings and other press keywords or keyword phrases.
made by spokespeople on releases noticed. Also important is keyword density,
external blogs. And it links or the percentage of keywords
directly to media coverage, A few basics contained within a given document.
which can be added to Technorati Recognizing the importance of SEO, Ideally, aim for a keyword density
by pushing a designated button. many newswires are helping companies of 2 percent to 8 percent.
The social media newsroom even optimize their press releases during ✜ use hyperlinks. If you aim to
includes a social bookmarking the submission process. highlight a certain set of earnings
corner where blogs and main- Here are some tips: results, it is useful to hyperlink
stream media links can be found. ✜ pay attention to keywords. the keywords for that section and
Keywords are the terms individuals then attach the relevant IR URL.
Shift Communications started a type into a search engine to identify ✜ polish your content. Search engine
free, downloadable social media web destinations. When you’re spiders, which seek out and rank
template in February 2007. To deciding on keywords, think of web materials, reward strong
explore this, go to www.shiftcomm. terms that are specific, preferably content. If your content is poorly
com/downloads/Social-Media- either buzzwords or industry written, rarely updated or irrelevant,
Newsroom-presentation.pdf. terms. What’s more, try to select don’t expect your pages to rank
keywords that will differentiate high on search engine results.
you from competitors. SEO may sound like an insur-
✜ think placement. The more mountable task given the proliferation
prominently keywords appear on of search engines. The good news,
6.vi IR guide New web trends – social media and SEO
however, is that optimizing a document an ongoing process. Keep improving the right tools
works for all the major search your keywords and strengthening
engines from Google to Yahoo! to your content. As soon as the concept of SEO was
Search Engine Tracker. ✜ don’t reinvent the wheel. born, a new cadre of professionals
Some dos and don’ts: Techniques for SEO and communi- capable of working this particular
✜ do make your navigation user- cating through social media are brand of wizardry sprang up and
friendly. While it may seem clever probably already being successfully began charging hefty fees to
or attention-getting to assign employed elsewhere in your optimize web documents. But
cutesy titles to content, doing so company. Many PR departments SEO is something you can do
may alienate readers who don’t have embraced search engine yourself with the proper tools.
recognize what they’re looking optimization and may be able
for. The sole aim of a navigation to share valuable advice. ✜ Overture Keyword Selector.
system should be to make web This tells you how many times
users’ lives easier. SEO checklist a given term was entered into
✜ do review your design. Make search engines within the past
sure your site is clean and visually ✜ Identify your key audiences for month. It also lists related
the press release.
appealing. If you have large searches that include your
graphics and poorly designed ✜ Do keyword research. Write your proposed term, and it generates
frames that load slowly, search press release around the keywords. a list of variations on a phrase
engine spiders may be blocked ✜ Determine up to three keywords or that you might consider.
from visiting your site. Also, if key phrases. Use Overture for help.
users can’t quickly find what they ✜ Wordtracker. Competitive
✜ Use Wordtracker to find all
want on your site, they’ll simply combinations bearing any relation analysis tools like this can
move on. to your business, service or product. help you find keywords your
✜ don’t stoop to nasty tricks. Some potential investors use but
✜ Include keywords at the beginning
SEO techniques are considered your competitors don’t know.
of the headline.
unethical and are frowned upon
by search engine spiders. Although ✜ Place keywords in the subhead ✜ Live Keyword Analysis Tool.
practices like keyword stuffing beneath the headline. This free tool automatically
(putting keywords everywhere) ✜ Place keywords in subheads within calculates keyword density for
or invisible text may elevate your the body of the press release. any document you generate.
site’s ranking in the short term, ✜ Sprinkle subheads in the copy.
in the long run these actions ✜ HitsLink. This gives real-time
backfire. Search engine spiders ✜ Aim for a keyword density of statistics on who visits your
between 2 percent and 8 percent.
are becoming increasingly adept site, the keywords they use
at identifying ‘black hat SEO ✜ Add hyperlinks to help people find to find you, how they navigate
techniques’ and banning these related content. your site, and whether or
sites for questionable practices. Source: Marketwire not they have transacted
✜ don’t rest on your laurels. SEO is any business on it.
New web trends – social media and SEO IR guide 6.vii
Sponsor’s statement s with mainstream media, different from yours. Much recent
developing contacts with attention has been paid to hedge
As the only fully integrated social media opinion- funds, some of which flourish by
North American global newswire, makers takes time. pursuing activist campaigns. At the
Marketwire is a full-service Because efforts to get end of 2006 there were around 9,500
partner to IROs seeking premier your news picked up by bloggers hedge funds worldwide, with some
distribution, media management, or social bookmarking sites may $1.4 tn in assets under management.
multimedia and monitoring backfire, a good strategy is to Activist funds have been increasingly
solutions. We deliver your news strengthen your communications in successful at achieving their ends. In
to the global-financial community general. Strong content, easy naviga- a recent study by Thomson Financial,
and are recognized by the SEC, bility, and press releases and IR sites hedge fund managers leading activist
the Toronto Stock Exchange and tailored to social media outlets are campaigns secured at least one of
the UK’s Financial Services more likely to gain favor over time. their goals 45 percent of the time.
Authority. Let our experienced As you make early forays into new Expect the debate about your
teams help with accurate, quick online media outlets, be sure to test company’s fortunes to become even
turnarounds for all your releases, results. At the end of the day, the best more heated as hedge funds and
EDGAR, SEDAR and UK filings, way to measure success is by regularly other groups enter the space and
and XBRL conversions. experimenting with your ranking in air their ideas too. And as the new
Marketwire offers innovative the search engines. If last year’s dialogue grows stronger and louder,
products and services, including earnings release was buried on the public companies will have to
social media, SEO, Dashboard fourth page of Google’s search results consider how to respond.
Mobile Financial, News Dashboard for your industry and this year it’s the Social media sites allow their
coverage reports, exclusive third item, progress has been made. founders’ ideas to be tested against
access to networks such as the public opinion, wherever that leads.
Canadian Press Wire Network, Rethinking communications Are companies brave enough to
Easy IR, and more – to help IR Just as public companies are starting disseminate truly interactive press
professionals maximize their to grasp the power of social media, releases, inviting open commentary
effectiveness, while ensuring so are shareholder activists and other on their announcements? Will IROs
accuracy and best practice. organizations whose agenda may be ever entertain a legitimate two-way
dialogue on their sites?
So where will the rise of social
For more information media lead? Most experts believe
it won’t entirely usurp traditional
+ North Sepulveda Boulevard, Suite 1050, El Segundo, CA 90245
distribution systems. There will
K Brodeur, SVP of strategy and development
Thom always be room for intermediaries
) +1 310 765 3248 / +1 800 774 9473 and mainstream media. Yet it’s crucial
@ firstname.lastname@example.org for companies to understand and hone
8 www.marketwire.com the communications tools necessary
for succeeding in this new arena.
6.viii IR guide New web trends – social media and SEO