January 6, 2010
Some companies understand the value of a well designed content rich corporate website. Repsol, a Madrid based energy company, understands this very well. Their homepage is an engaging array of content–
Seldom have I seen such an entertaining, informative and well designed corporate website. Some observations–
- Quick access to more information about the company
- Same for products and services
- A 3D tour of a service station
- More information for the visitor
Next take a look at the Who we are section and you will see an interactive section –
Abstract art, yes but when you move the mouse over the diagram you will see more specifics about the company–
Simply put this is innovative and a uniquely entertaining method of presenting company information. But there are more innovations on this site. For example, visit the Strategy section to see a lively and interesting display of the companies strategy out to 2012.
Next the Corporate Governance section–
Note the extensive menu on the left and the comprehensive display of Corporate Governance issues. Well designed, eye appeal and just about anything you need to see about Corporate Governance.
Bravo to Repsol for communicating with stakeholders in an engaging manner.
Note from Editor: Ed wrote this post some time ago, but it got missed in the publication queue. Here’s what the Repsol home page looks like today – you’ll see that it has been updated with content which reflects the current season (snow!) and is still bright, engaging and colourful:
December 22, 2009
Corporate websites should communicate to stakeholders. Some companies understand this clearly.
This is an interesting twist on what is typically an About Us section.
Something that is not normally seen on Corporate Websites is a discussion of the company’s unique strengths. Note this on the upper right. The company provides a concise summary of its competitive advantages –
- Unsurpassed Technical Capacity
- A Group of IP Professionals
- A Base of more than 6,500 Customers
- Total Support for a Wide Range of Network Solutions
And check the Service History page – littered with Firsts: exactly the kind of thing you’d hope to see in an internet company.
It also provides a visual that clearly shows its position in industries it serves–
What a brilliant way to present your case to prospective investors. The skeptic may say that this is a biased display of the companies strengths; well, the copy also displays its Risks. So much so that it uses over 4500 words to describe Risks against less than 500 for describing its Strengths. Hmmm.
Well done IIJ!
December 8, 2009
Section 1 of the Investor Relations Twitter Strategy Guide
Twitter Strategy Guide for IR Section 2 – Useful, Informative, Legally Defensible Twitter Tweets
For businesses to get value from Twitter, the company must generate a useful and informative feed of Twitter posts that compels users to “Follow” the company’s Twitter account. On the other hand, to avoid any potential problems with tweets made on Twitter, corporations must be careful not to accidentally publish misleading or misunderstood messages. Ensuring that both of these things happen on a regular basis is the crux of a useful IR Twitter strategy.
The person handling the IR Twitter postings should be an experienced professional already versed in the various rules and regulations regarding communications with investors and the general public. All the same rules that apply to phone calls, emails, letters, and in person conversations apply to messages posted to Twitter. In other words, if you can’t say it on a person-to-person phone call with the SEC’s top enforcement watchdog listening in, you can’t tweet it either!
Lastly, do not confuse the conversational nature of Twitter with actual conversation. Every post made to Twitter is in writing! If it couldn’t be typed on official company letterhead with an executive signature at the bottom, then it can’t be posted to Twitter either. This simple distinction can save IR a lot of trouble.
1) – Tweet Daily
Everyone knows Twitter is about fast real-time communication, but it also about constant communication. Twitter feeds with occasional tweets drop quickly from view. Power Twitter users follow dozens or hundreds of other users. Keeping up with all of those tweets requires users to triage the inflow. A once a week message from an account is just too likely to be skipped, missed, or buried to provide value. Don’t worry about posting tweets on weekends or holidays. No one will be surprised when a corporate Twitter stream goes dark during non-business hours.
a) How To Tweet Daily
Coming up with a new tweet every day may seem daunting at first. However, remember that Twitter’s value lies in being part of the conversation, not in just broadcasting your own communications. Responding to direct questions, responding to general statements made in the “Twitter-sphere”, and even responding to media stories or events can (and should) be part of the Twitter strategy. It can be several days or more in between each originating tweet.
2) – No Junk Tweets
Every tweet needs to be worthwhile to keep the company’s Twitter feed on the must follow list for shareholders, potential shareholders, and analysts. No interview about Twitter usage is complete without the declaration that communications are important, and there are no tweets about what was eaten for dinner. Don’t let your tweets become the corporate equivalent of meal tweets.
3) – No Coupons, No Promos, No “Funny” News Links
Unless the IR group is the only official Twitter account for the entire corporation, chances are someone else is handling the smiley face side of social networking for the company. Investor relations is the most difficult Twitter communication channel there is. Don’t make it any harder by trying to be something else. Besides, the people you actually want following your IR tweet stream are serious about being shareholders, becoming shareholders, or analyzing the company. The followers you don’t want are the jokers, pranksters, agitators, looky-loos, or others who are not serious about investments in the company. Don’t give them a reason to follow you. Unlike other accounts that might be looking to increase exposure and publicity, if a IR tweet goes “viral” it is probably a bad thing.
4) Speak With Links – The 140 characters allowed for tweets posted to Twitter is too short to be useful for IR – Period – End of Story – No ifs ands or buts. It is too short. Never forget that.
The maximum protection from any legal or regulatory issue, plus the best way to avoid any misunderstanding or confusion, is to let links do the talking.
In an earlier article we discussed examples of Twitter trouble for IR. The carefully crafted statement and meticulously crafted wording in an official company statement about a recent dividend cut was not short enough to be tweeted. Trying to tease out a shorter, but equally accurate and legally sufficient tweet of 140 characters is liability suicide. However a tweet that directs Twitter users to the original statement is not only completely defensible, but incredibly easy.
Example IR Tweet:
@CrankyInvestor – Look here for that information about the dividend cut. http://bit.ly/6UKFaR
This tweet is well under 140 characters. It provides a link to a webpage with the original full length statement complete with all disclaimers and notices.
Notice the difference between a response to a Twitter user’s specific tweet and an unrelated random tweet about a new press release. Which brings us to…
5) Don’t Tweet Press Releases – Remember no junk tweets! If people wanted to read the company’s press releases whenever they just happened to come out, they would be reading them on the website, or more likely subscribed to either email delivery, RSS feed, or other notification. Tweeting a link to a press release or other information only when asked about, makes it a relevant and helpful tweet. Doing the same thing at 1:14 P.M. for a press release sent out at 1:13 P.M. makes it tweet-spam.
6) ALWAYS: “Look into,” “Check on,” “Investigate,” “Pass On” – Speed is what makes Twitter so powerful. It can also become intoxicating. Resist the temptation to fire off replies or other tweets at the spur of the moment. Twitter may be real-time, but it is not chat.
The reflex tweets sent right away are the ones that will end up causing trouble down the road. Unless you have already considered a similar reply and have a link at the ready, don’t tweet. If a reply is required, but none is ready, simply tweet that you will look into it and get back to them. For users that offer suggestions or other unsolicited advice or information, simply say that you will pass their comments on, or otherwise make sure the right people see them. Don’t promise anything.
@CrankyInvestor – I’ll check on that and let you know.
7) NEVER SAY: Promise, Guarantee, Never, Always, Obviously… – Certain words carry a literal meaning that you do not want associated with things you say on behalf of investor relations. These words include any form of promise, any form of complete exclusion (never) or complete inclusion (always). Also troublesome are words that imply that there is no question about something, or that something is common knowledge. These are standards the IR group does not want to be held to in a court room or regulatory action. Create a list of banned words and post them on every computer that will be used to send official tweets.
8) Be Careful With Re-Tweet – Recall all the hoops the IR department had to jump through to link out to another website while staying in compliance with all rules and regulations. Re-tweeting is just as dicey. Whenever possible, avoid it altogether.
These tips should get most IR groups up and running with a successful Twitter for business strategy. What comes next is being able to successfully manage Twitter conversations for businesses. For that, additional utilities and a little bit of advanced Twitter know how will be in order.
July 16, 2009
I am continually pleasantly surprised to see how some companies find innovative and creative techniques in their stakeholder relationships. These companies realize the power of their websites and use them to make their company standout.
The first site we will visit is Gerber Products–
Note the Story reference and the Timeline. Mouseover the dots and a historical factbite is displayed.
Nice, but these are what I will call Stage 2 innovations (good but not super creative).
Click on Corporate and see –
– a compelling offer to get you to sign up for customized information as your child grows.
Take it and they have you as a dedicated visitor for years.
Next is a tool used by AstraZeneca and it is one that will cause you to smack your forehead and say “why didn’t I think of that?”
It appears on most of the website’s pages and simply asks the visitor for information.
This is a well thought out feedback form and is an easy way to get user information.
Next, Corporate Eye deals with all stakeholder groups, so what better to look at than websites that display how they deal with their stakeholders?
This takes us to Italy’s Edison, which was profiled in a recent post–
This is only a portion of the page. Note how Edison identifies how it relates to each stakeholder group. Visit the MAP to see all stakeholder groups.
Another company that uses a similar stakeholder map is UK and Netherlands based Unilever.
There are more creative techniques and future posts may cover these. But for now the final technique for this post comes from Pepsico.
The technique involves design. The Pepsico home page is a perfect example of elegant simplicity. Perhaps I was drawn to this because I favor minimalist photography (shameless pitch–see my online article on Minimalist Photography).
Well designed, uncluttered. Pepsico uses creative navigation–do mouseover on the lower navigation icons and more navigation links are displayed. Very nice indeed.
If you have any examples please post them.
Don’t forget – you can click on any of these images to see them expanded.
July 3, 2009
Top on the list of many surveys of issues that concern Boards of Directors is Risk Management. According to The Institute of Risk Management Standard publication –
Risk can be defined as the combination of the probability of an event and its consequences. In all types of undertaking, there is the potential for events and consequences that constitute opportunities for benefit (upside) or threats to success (downside). …
Risk management is a central part of any organisation’s strategic management. It is the process whereby organizations methodically address the risks attaching to their activities with the goal of achieving sustained benefit within each activity and across the portfolio of all activities.
The current economic/financial crisis is supplying ample risks to corporate boards. For example, in AON’s 2009 Global Risk Management Survey
Respondents told us clearly that the crisis impacting the global economy was the number one most important risk to their organizations. Other key risks cited include staying ahead of regulatory compliance; managing business interruption; meeting the challenges of increased competition; commodity price risk; protecting reputation; managing risks associated with cash flow, supply chains, and third party liability; and hiring and retaining top talent. Every one of these risks has increased in scale and complexity given the state of the current economic environment.
If companies are overwhelmed by these risks, imagine how they impact companies’ stakeholders. Effective communications of how companies identify and deal with these risks is now an overarching issue. Therefore let us take a look at what is out there.
First one of the most comprehensive displays of risks is by Tokyo Electric Power Company –
Click on one of the Challenges and you obtain a thorough explanation of it and what the company is doing to manage it. This technique works so well that the company should use it to display other risks.
For a comprehensive description of a risk management process look no further than UK based Friends Provident an insurance and pension company. Their Internal controls and risk management process displays an extensive explanation of their risk management process and the roles of senior management.
Another UK based company ROK plc uses a very effective visual to describe how it identifies risks –
This is a great example of the power visualization has in business functions. Notice how lots of information is clearly communicated. Suggestions for ROK plc, display this on your website, not only in the PDF of the Annual Report, and explain company efforts to deal with the risks.
One of the best communication of risks and how the company addresses them is on the website of The Bank of China.
This is an example of Credit Risk. Note how they describe, monitor and manage the risk. Visit their site to see how other risks are addressed.
Many companies are slow to embrace the need to clearly communicate risk management issues via their websites. The prevalent practice is to provide PDF links to their annual report. In a number of cases companies have good risk management practices but they bury them in the Annual Report. Better to take the content and enhance it to –
- Clearly describe risks by category
- Explain how the company is managing the risks
- Explain the impact on the company and quantify as much as possible
- Use visuals (see my post Business Visualization)
The companies mentioned here are good examples to use as benchmarks.