I RECENTLY heard a senior investor relations officer talking about RSS feeds. He said his company was thinking about offering more feeds for different types of content.
This isn’t unusual. Many companies offer a variety of feeds for different types of IR website content. Thomson Reuters’ IR websites typically offer 3 different feeds –- one for news releases, another for calendar events, and yet another for SEC filings.
Shareholder.com is similar, except that they typically implement 3 different news release feeds and 2 separate SEC filings feeds! (Shareholder.com has never really gotten the concept of RSS.)
Now, put yourself in the shoes of an analyst or institutional investor who has invested in your company or whose job it is to stay on top of developments at your company. What do you think they are going to do when faced with this menu of RSS feeds?
That’s right. They’re going to subscribe to ALL of the different feeds. Why? Because they’re afraid of missing something. Missing something could cost them a lot of money — and possibly put them out of a job.
So when I hear senior IROs and others talking about adding new feeds for different types of content, I know their hearts are in the right place but that they’re not using their heads. They think they’re doing investors a favor by giving them more options, but they’re really not doing anyone any favors, least of all themselves.
It’s more likely that they’re exposing themselves to the risk that someone is going to miss something important if they don’t subscribe to all of the company’s various feeds. If that happens to one of the company’s most influential investors or analysts, who do you think is going to get the blame? That’s right, the IR department is.
A single IR disclosure feed is a win-win for companies and investors
The solution is to provide a single IR feed that includes all relevant items of interest to investors. The only company I know of that has done this – though not well enough by my standards — is Sun Microsystems. They developed an “IR aggregate feed” after having discussions with the SEC about using their corporate website for Reg. FD compliance.
Of course, a single IR disclosure feed includes a lot of items, from news releases to events to insider transaction filings. You might think this is too much information to be pushing out to investors, but from the investor’s perspective it’s better to get too much than too little and miss potentially important information.
There’s also a benefit to companies in providing a single disclosure feed. A single feed from a company containing all information relevant to investors is the kind of unique information resource that can attract investors to obtain your company’s information directly rather than through intermediaries.
And as investors begin to use your single disclosure feed, you might find that you have fewer reasons to rely on third-party sources to distribute your information. You’ll be saving money while improving your ability to communicate with investors at the same time.
There’s a lot more IR departments need to know about web feeds that their current vendors don’t seem to have a clue about. But getting the basics right, like providing a single disclosure feed, is a good place to start.
- Do you have any questions about RSS feeds? What has your company’s experience been with investors adopting the technology?