IR Web Report’s Q&As are unpaid profiles of service providers that we believe are doing interesting and innovative work in the area of online investor relations and stakeholder communications. If you would like your firm featured in a Q&A, we invite you to contact us using our general email inbox.
Firm name: zu.com communications inc. Date established: 1995 CEO: Ryan Lejbak President: Tony Zuck Employees: 41
Number of clients: 45 Representative clients: PotashCorp, Cameco, TransCanada, Areva, Pacific & Western Bank, Canadian Oil Sands Trust, Enerflex, Coalcorp, Agrium, Isotechnika, OPTI Canada Inc.
Website address: www.zu.com Head office address: 324 Duchess St., Saskatoon, SK, S7K-0R1, Canada
1. What does your firm do? What products or services do you provide?
zu.com communications is an interactive agency specializing in website design and development, content management systems, mobile and social media applications. We provide extensive IR services including: website development, online annual reports, sustainability reports and e-proxies.
2. In what ways does your firm help companies be more effective in their online communications with stakeholders?
We help our clients communicate important and sensitive information with investor-friendly utility and design. We are very fluent in IR terminology. Most IR websites are filing cabinets of information – we take that information and produce a customized, uniquely-designed HTML website tailored to our clients’ audiences. We make it easy for investors to find what they’re looking for.
Is the look and feel of the website credible? Is the navigation usable and consistent? Are all types of disclosure properly represented? Improving any of these deficiencies increases the quality of the communication. We liberate some of the best story-telling and investor proposition materials from the annual report and use them as a skeleton for the online version.
3. What unique problems are you addressing?
The unique problems are often a particular set of deficiencies each company expresses due to a condition in the organization: a manpower shortage, editorial reasons to keep things incomplete or a lack of awareness of the best online IR practices in existence.
4. Tell us about a recent project that you are particularly proud of? Why do you think what you did is effective?
A recent highpoint was the online version of a 10K and e-proxy for a large cap US company. IR Web Report predicted the arrival of this type of project many years ago — particularly the e-proxy portion.
Our effectiveness comes from the way our team pounces on these projects — document conversion to stand-alone websites. We’ve refined the production process, we’re quick and the result is a well-organized and tightly-designed product to existing design standards with thorough quality control.
We’re influencing the way companies look at reporting. We’re also helping the environment by cutting back on wasted paper. Many publicly-traded companies are turning to online reporting for this reason as well as the associated financial savings.
5. What are the biggest challenges your firm faces?
We find ourselves working with larger clients on more complex projects. As a result we are continually adding depth to our team and detail to the management process. We’re often designing and programming for our clients’ content management systems which involves more coordination and testing. Our programmers enjoy the challenge and are happiest when thinking their hardest.
Another current challenge is raw space. Though we’re moving to a new-to-us 1930’s warehouse with 20,000 square feet, we’re currently crammed into about a third of that space.
6. Which other firms similar to yours do you admire or respect and why?
We keep close tabs on IR Web Report as it leads the way in the field; we admire
Critical Mass for their inspirational design work; GeBer Geschäftsberichte inspire us with their swift turnaround time; 37signals wows us for having the guts to try new things like Basecamp and Ruby on Rails.
7. What differentiates your firm from others in the market?
Our team is large and experienced — we’ve been working and consulting in the online IR sector for over a decade. We’re a full-service interactive firm offering a broad spectrum of IR communications: programming, design, Web 2.0 technology, multimedia, mobile, hosting and integrating third party feeds among other services.
8. Are there any future plans for your firm that you want to talk about?
We’re attending the National Investor Relations Institute Conference for the first time in our company history to spread the news about investor-friendly websites. We’re also returning to the Canadian Investor Relations Institute conference for the sixth year in a row. We’re excited about the increasingly stronger embrace of the Internet as a disclosure tool — an area zu has been focusing on for several years.
We’re pushing ahead with mobile developments, anticipating growth in this area. We’re also looking at social media and how it can assist investor relations without creating extra work for users.
9. Is there anything you wish we had asked you but didn’t?
We’re a fun company with a great atmosphere. We’ve created a relaxing, positive work environment where our employees are happy to share a beer on Friday afternoons. Stop by when you are in town.