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Investor Relations and Corporate Blog Trends

By   8 July 2010 2 Comments

blogAs we have said in the past, there is limited concrete research on companies with blogs strictly dedicated to IR, but it seems to be far less than those who are using Twitter for the same purpose. After analyzing the 350 + companies in our current study, we continue to see this trend with few companies using their blog strictly for IR.

Instead we are seeing quite a few companies who have one company blog where marketing, product or research staff comment on new products and provide their viewpoint on industry developments and some IR-related material, such as a significant milestone or event that has happened in the company. Specifically, companies are providing insight and commentary on peer/sector related news such as scientific publications that impact or pertain to the company’s work, a discussion of project developments (oftentimes with an accompanying presentation or graphics to help tell the story), and material company news such as a merger or financing.

We also have a few examples of technology companies that have several blogs, with each dedicated to a specific department.  For example a Marketing blog that is geared towards customers and partners and a R&D blog that is populated by engineers and “techies” who build and test products.

Technology companies also seem to have a higher number of CEO dedicated blogs, but we are seeing a few consumer goods and natural resource companies who also have a blog where their CEO comments on company/industry news.

Here are a few examples (all of the screenshots below link to the blog being discussed):

Accelyrs Software

Accelyrs’ blog is geared towards customers with contributions by product managers, developers and research staff. However, in spite of being mainly used to discuss product and industry information, the company did post the details of their recent merger with Symyx Technologies.

Accelrys blog

The post was written by the “Accelrys Team” which is made up of the contributors I previously outlined and consisted of a brief overview of the merger (which was not simply verbatim from the press release), although they did provide a link to the full press release that explains more about the merger.

The company obviously felt the merger was important enough as they highlighted the event on the blog.  I’d also like to point out that the company created a new area in their Accelrys Online Community called The Headquarters , with a link to a Customer FAQ sheet to answer specific questions about the merger as shown below:

Accelyrs the headquarters

Having a dedicated area like “The Headquarters” related to a specific company event like a merger is a proactive way to engage and gather feedback and concerns that customers, partners and employees of Accelrys and Symx may have.  Hosting their comments in an open forum also helps everyone to be a part of the conversation to share and gain knowledge.

Axion International

Axion designs, develops and manufactures eco-friendly structural building materials.  As a result they provide links to industry relevant publications such as “GreenTechMedia” – an online magazine that keeps tabs on “Green” companies such as Axion.  Additionally, their co-founder and CEO Marc Green also has quite a few posts whereby he gives insight into articles he deems interesting and of course relevant to Axiom’s core business.

Of interest, in January of this year, they extended their blog onto Seeking Alpha:

Axion on SA

Being on Seeking Alpha is a good tactic to drive people to their blog as it helps increase awareness about the company and reaches more audiences.

China Wind Power

In January 2010, China Wind Power launched their IR Blog.  For a small–cap Canadian company, China Wind does a great job of keeping their stakeholders apprised of their business strategy and company developments.

For example, the image below provides an overview of one of their development projects:

China Wind Power IR Blog

Which as we have said many times, companies should maximize their opportunities to provide context about the company whenever they can – as providing information around all areas of the business helps investors to gather comprehensive, credible information to piece together a complete picture of the company.

Emulex

Emulex has four blogs that cover off all aspects of their business including marketing, R&D and the technology industry in general.  For our purposes, I am going to highlight the last one – their “CEO Blog” which is authored by Jim McCluney, the company’s president and ceo.  McCluney uses the blog to convey his expertise of the company’s business through detailed commentary on company news:

Emulex CEO blog

Having the CEO give his two cents on company developments such as a partnership or merger is advantageous for both the company and shareholders.  The CEO is able to provide more color on why an event is beneficial to the company and shareholders are gaining valuable insight directly from the CEO.

Rackspace

Rackspace has a corporate blog that covers a diverse range of topics including corporate strategy, company news and industry events.  They also do a great job of incorporating investor centric information.  For example, a few recent posts pertained to an overview of a strategic partnership, with another covering an analyst day at the NYSE.

They have also posted a video whereby Patrick Walravens, on-demand and enterprise software analyst at JMP Securities (who covers the company) interviewed Lew Moorman, President, Cloud and Chief Strategy Officer (n.b. Patrick still covers the company).

Rackspace JMP Interview

In my experience, I haven’t seen a lot of companies with video footage of an analyst who is interviewing a key member of management.  In my opinion, I think this is a good idea as it gives investors (particularly retail) exposure (albeit it virtual) to the sell-side which is rare.

As mentioned, technology companies are leading the way in their use of IR blogs – particularly through a CEO dedicated blog. However, I am going to end the post by providing a snapshot of Whole Foods who also have a CEO Blog, authored by John Mackey.

The archives for the CEO blog date back to September 2005 and has covered a lot of investor relevant issues such as social responsibility and compensation. I particularly liked the way that he addressed some management changes within the company that has him sharing the title of Co-CEO:

Whole Foods Blog
John’s posts are written in a very conversational way and as he posts so often, he seems dedicated to keeping shareholders informed and up-to-date on the company’s strategy and direction.

Not surprisingly, few companies are using blogs strictly dedicated for IR.  Instead, of the examples we have provided here, the companies have chosen to incorporate certain IR-related events such as a merger or partnership amongst other posts from the Marketing or R&D departments.

Technology companies are leading the way, but we are seeing a few consumer goods and natural resource companies who also incorporate IR-related material into their blog.  We’ll provide more commentary and insight into how companies are using blogs as we continue to compile our research findings .