financial.

THERE'S MORE TO BEING PUBLIC THAN BEING LISTED

Management of today's publicly held organizations is aware of the

responsibilities and opportunities in providing information to

various segments of the financial community. However, Securities

Exchange Commission (SEC) suits, such as the Texas Gulf Sulphur

case, have emphasized the importance of seeking professional

guidance before public relations programs are implemented.

Good, properly executed financial PR programs can assist

management in building confidence and prestige for the company

with a number of groups. These groups include: present

shareholders; the investing public at large; members of the

financial community (including bankers, security analysts,

investment advisors an others who influence opinions) and the

general business-oriented public.

Some Guidelines

The breadth and depth of your financial PR program can

vary. However, here are some basic rules to keep in mind when

you begin developing the program that is best suited to your firm

and its needs.

1. "Timely disclosure" is an obligation. The whole idea is

wrapped up in this statement from the company manual of the

New York Stock Exchange ... "Important developments which

might affect security values or influence investment

decisions should be promptly disclosed.

The manual also says that news requiring immediate

publicity must be released by the fastest available means.

This usually means a release to the public press by

telephone, telegraph, hand delivery or some combination

thereof. Or better yet, use a wire service, such as Business

Wire, that is tailored to business news.

You may not be listed on the Big Board, but its rules

are good ones to follow. Adhering to them prevents you from

getting in a position where you can be accused of letting

insiders take advantage of the situation.

2. Accept the idea that it's your responsibility to develop

interest in the financial community for your securities.

There's nothing undignified or unethical in getting analysts,

brokers and others to know your company. In order to arrive

at a fair market price for securities, complete information,

properly interpreted and evaluated, is necessary. Often, a

special effort has to be extended by the new company to be

sure that there is an audience for the full information.

3. Be candid and tell your story completely (and interestingly).

Occasionally, there's a temptation to tell only the good and

to sweep the bad under the rug ... or at least camouflage it.

Don't do it. You'll be better off in the long run.

4. Capitalize on your publicity opportunities as a publicly held

company. You're now in a position to tell more than you were

when privately held, and there are more and better chances to

publicize your company, your products and services.

Financial PR Checklist

So much for generalized thinking about financial public

relations. Following is a checklist of specifics. It doesn't

cover everything, but it will get you started:

1. Welcome -- A brief communication--possibly a letter, possibly

a printed piece--to you new shareholders is a good idea.

Nothing fancy or formal is needed. Just let the investors

know that you're glad to have them aboard.

2. Financial Service Reports -- Make arrangements for Standard &

Poor's, Moody's and other financial service reports to be

issued on your company. If you let things ride, eventually

they'll get around to you, but it's entirely in line for you

to contact them first.

3. Daily Quotations -- As a company that's just gone public,

your shares, of course, are traded over the counter. You,

your shareholders and the investment professionals will

welcome daily publication of your stock prices in, at least,

the local newspapers and preferably in the Wall Street

Journal. The National Association of Securities Dealers

(NASD) determines, on the basis of number of shareholders,

the amount of stock they own and their geographical

distribution, what kind of listing companies are qualified

for--local, regional or national, daily or weekly.

4. Sales and Earnings Results -- Plan to keep shareholders and

the financial community regularly informed about your

company. This means:

* At the end of each quarter and at the end of the year, a

news release announcing your sales and earnings should be

released to the press and financial reporting services as

soon as possible after the figures are known. The release

should give the data on sales, earnings and earnings per

share, compared with the results of the corresponding

period a year earlier. It should also include pertinent

comments from the president and/or chairman.

* You should prepare not only annual but also quarterly

reports to send to shareholders. The reports serve to

keep them informed of corporate progress, and they provide

current information to the financial professional. Create

an attractive format--not shoddy, but not too expensive

looking--and include a message from the chief executive

officer, along with a brief income statement with

comparative figures. Recognize that the mechanics of

something, even as simple as an interim report, can get

fairly complicated, so start to work well in advance.

* Your annual report is the most important compilation of

information on your company that will be issued in any

given year. It deserves a major effort so that words and

graphics will satisfactorily and accurately represent your

firm to the public. The job involves setting deadlines,

writing copy, working with auditors, design, printing,

photography and an almost endless set of details.

5. Prompt Disclosure -- As indicated earlier, you should

immediately publicize major corporate developments such as

acquisitions, research breakthroughs, major new products or

services, discoveries, etc. In an acquisition, that means

publicizing the event no later than immediately after signing

the agreement in principle, and sometimes it might be

necessary even earlier than that because news of negotiations

tend to get around and result in rumors. Besides immediate

issuance of the news release, consider a special

communication to shareholders.

6. Dividends -- Announce dividend actions--regular, special or

failure to act--to the press immediately after the board of

directors votes. It's also a good idea when mailing your

dividends, to include a stuffer that gives your shareholders

more information about their company.

7. Fact File -- A good communications tool is a "fact file,"

which gives information about operations, management,

financial history, capitalization, markets and marketing,

etc. Such a document is useful in developing publicity, in

informing shareholders, in your liaison program with the

financial community, in the development of a new interest,

and with some modifications, it can be used in your marketing

and employee relations activities.

8. Annual Meeting -- There's no way a newly public company can

predict how many people will attend the annual meeting and

what their interests will be. In any event, be prepared to

be cordial, informative hosts.

* The chief executive officer's presentation should be

prepared.

* Consider displays highlighting company products, services,

financial results and so on.

* Invite representatives of the press and interested

members of the financial community.

* For press distribution immediately after the meeting,

prepare a news release in advance, covering highlights of

the chief executive's presentation.

* Have information handouts ready, including annual reports,

product literature, fact files and so on.

* Consider the amenities. This includes: setting up a

comfortable meeting room well in advance; issuing special

invitations in addition to the formal proxy statement to

shareholders; possibly offering refreshments; offering a

plant tour; providing name badges for the officers and

directors, and introducing them during the meeting.

* If your annual meeting goes beyond the routine, consider

reprinting the full proceedings, or at least a digest, for

distribution to shareholders and the financial community

who were not present.

9. Publicity -- Develop a financial publicity program, directing

your attention toward such media as Barron's, The Wall Street

Journal, business pages of your daily newspapers, various

financial magazines and major trade publications. Develop

publicity on what's different about your company, the

progress it has made, the outlook for your products and

services, your research program and/or major new products.

10. Mailing -- Keep the financial community informed about your

progress by sending them copies of such materials as interim

reports, annual reports, fact files, reprints of major

publicity items, news of acquisitions, research breakthroughs

and copies of special shareholder communications.

11. Mailing Lists -- Obviously, having good mailing lists will

make life easier when you have a report or news release to

issue. You'll want separate lists of financial media, daily

newspapers, analysts and brokers who show an interest in your

company.

12. Financial Community Liaison -- It's possible that you'll be

swamped with attention from financial analysts and other

influentials in the financial community from the moment you

go public. But, that would be the exception rather than the

rule. To attain the interest your company deserves, the

chances are you'll have to take steps to seek it out. There

are various ways to stimulate interest:

* Set up a personal contact program aimed at brokerages,

funds, etc., which might or should be interested in your

company. The person to contact might be an analyst, a

partner, or a sales manager or broker. This is not a job

for the chairman or president, although there are circum-

stances in which the top man's direct participation is

called for. It's a role that can be filled best by a

competent financial public relations firm. Your repre-

sentative making these calls should be well informed about

your company and industry and have suitable printed

material to leave behind.

* Under the proper circumstances, top management also should

be exposed to the financial community. Considerations

here include:

- Select and make arrangements with the appropriate

audience. Possibilities include analyst societies;

specialized analyst groups such as those interested in

science and technology, service industries, transpor-

tation, etc.; top-level brokerage representatives, who

could be invited to an informal luncheon; key investment

salesmen; investment brokerage sales staffs after the

market closes; and analysts and brokers as guests at

privately sponsored meetings.

- Select the geographical locations. Depending on various

circumstances, you might wish to arrange for exposure in

the primary markets--New York, Chicago and Los Angeles--

or secondary financial markets.

- Prepare the presentation. This includes the speech,

charts, slides, product displays, information kits, etc.

- Consider reprinting and distributing the presentation.

13. Pulse Taking -- Periodically evaluate the amount of trading

in your stock, the role played by firms making a market in

your shares, the geographical distribution of shareholders,

possibilities of listing on an exchange, future needs,

analyst attitudes toward your company and so on. Based on

your findings, take remedial action.

14. Responsibility -- Implicit throughout the financial public

relations activities outlined above is the appointment of a

high-level, informed company officer to be responsible for

the program.

# # #

Author:.

G. A. "Andy" Marken President Marken Communications, Inc. Santa Clara, CA Andy has worked in front of and behind the TV camera and radio mike. Unlike most PR people he listens to and understands the consumer’s perspective on the actual use of products. He has written more than 100 articles in the business and trade press. During this time he has also addressed industry issues and technologies not as corporate wishlists but how they can be used by normal people. He has been a marketing an...

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