MANY IR news releases waste investors’ time unnecessarily because companies don’t provide direct links to webcasts and other information on their websites.
Look at the screenshot below of restaurant chain Denny’s (NASDAQ: DENN) recent announcement about its upcoming earnings call. The sentences I’ve highlighted tell investors how to find the call on the company’s website.
This is bad practice. First, it is written as if investors are getting the information on paper, which is almost never the case today.
Second, because they’re reading releases on a monitor, it requires users to remember the instructions or toggle windows or tabs as they try to find the relevant page on the company’s website.
The first link investors have to find when they get to the company’s website is Investor Relations. In Denny’s case, this is at the bottom of the company’s homepage, which is dominated by a distracting Flash animation.
For obvious reasons, consumer-oriented websites often have busy homepages that emphasize companies’ products or services. This can make the link to the IR section hard to find on the company’s homepage.
After finding the link to Investor Relations, investors must then remember where to go next. Chances are, many will have forgotten the next step the company gave in the release. Do you remember?
Use direct links and new formats
Now all of this could be easily avoided if the company just provided a link directly to its webcast lobby page. However, one small problem is that Denny’s is using Thomson Financial/CCBN to host its website, which means the webcast page has one of those long and weird-looking URLs.
In Denny’s case, the direct URL is this:
Seeing a URL that doesn’t match the company name may worry some people and cause them to avoid clicking it. A long URL like this also may not automatically appear as a link in a news release or email alert, forcing people to copy and paste it into their browser, which is inconvenient.
Of course, there are solutions to this minor problem. Business Wire, which Denny’s uses, offers an XHTML news release option that allows for keywords to be hyperlinked. This is available right now to Denny’s at no extra charge.
Using the XHTML release, the company could have said:
Investors and interested parties are invited to listen to a live webcast of the conference call.
Unfortunately, some websites and news services may not be able to handle XHTML, so you may need to continue to use full URLs.
In this case, Denny’s could have used a shortened URL instead of the long Thomson/CCBN one by using a tool like the popular Tiny URL service. This lets you enter a long URL and its spits out a shortened version like this http://tinyurl.com/yfoyvo. If you click on the preceding link, you will go to Denny’s webcast page.
This is only one potential solution to this far too common problem. There are other approaches you could use, and all are easy and cheap to implement.
So next time you want to refer people to a page on the Web, drop the instruction manual and give them a link.