Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

NewComm Forum: Business Models For News; Social Media And Investor Relations

Posted by Tom Foremski - April 27, 2009

I took part in two events today at Newcomm Forum, one of my favorite conferences. In the morning I co-hosted a roundtable with Andria Carter on New Business Models for News Organizations. It was an interesting discussion. We talked about how newspapers need to cultivate "99" separate revenue streams; how online advertising no longer works; how newspapers should learn from some successful B2B publishers such as IDG which makes good money from lead generation.

Also, people seemed to like my idea to use virtual cash as a way of developing new revenues. Virtual cash would create a separate economy in which trading for information is encouraged, and virtual cash could be used as micro payments but also to reward contributors etc. (Please see: There's Real Gold In Virtual Cash - Is This A Solution For Newspapers? )

Next: I took part in: "Social Media & Investor Relations -- Disclosure & Other Issues, with 2008 SNCR Fellow Brian Solis, SNCR Senior Fellow Tom Foremski" and Bryan Rhoads, from Intel, David Gelles from Financial Times, and Richard Brewer-Hay, from Ebay.

Despite promising new guidance because "given the speed at which technological advances are developing, and the translation of those technologies into investor tools, we expected to revisit the guidance provided..." the SEC last updated its guidelines in 2000 and 2008(!)

Bryan Rhoads noted that there is still a lot of gray in the rules. However, large companies like Intel, and Ebay are forging ahead and so far, so good, no SEC complaints. I made the point that social media, Twitter, Facebook, etc are just additional channels to communicate financial performance. If you follow the spirit of SEC Full Disclosure rules that you make material information about a public company as widely available as possible through many-media channel -- then there shouldn't be a problem. It's not a case of either/or, but of "and."

David Gelles made an excellent point saying that investor relations and social media don't mix. I agree, investor relations is not interested in a "conversation" about the quarterly numbers it is interested in the widest distribution of that information. Social media is merely a conduit for investor relations.

Richard Brewer-Hay spoke about his early days at Ebay as chief blogger and about Tweeting the quarterly conference call and some of the legal issues that came up.

Brian Solis made some good points about SEC disclosure to investors that company results would be available via Twitter and other channels.

Bryan Rhoads said that the chief blogging guideline at Intel is "write only about what you know." Excellent advice. Don't write about financials if you are designing chips.

When Jim Finn was running North American communications at IBM, he once told me: "I don't worry about what someone will blog at IBM and upset the SEC because I have only one CFO, I don't have 90,000 CFOs." It's a great point. The vast majority of employees don't have access to financial performance numbers and thus can't leak them accidentally and violate SEC FD rules.

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Newcomm is an excellent conference, the distinction between panel and audience is that there often isn't one. You could round up three or four people from the audience and they would do just as well on the panel. That's what makes it such as good conference, it's more like a salon of peers -- not podiums :)

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Please see:

Adtribution Might Be A Solution For Murdoch, A.P, Et Al, Versus The News Aggregators And Bloggers

Intel Looks Back On More Than 5 Years Of Blogging

There's Real Gold In Virtual Cash - Is This A Solution For Newspapers?

25 ideas: Creating An Open-Source Business Model For Newspapers

Why Pay-For-News Won't Work: The First Mover Disadvantage

Searching For a Viable Media Business Model: French Government Aid For Newspapers

FutureWatch: The End Of The News Aggregators And The Future Of News

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