Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Wall Street Lukewarm To Corporate Blogs

Hill & Knowlton has released a study of Wall Street analysts' perceptions on corporate communication channels.

Only 17% of the surveyed audience see blogs as even "fairly important," compared to 71% who viewed "articles in the business media" as being important, and 85% who voted for a company's website.

This is good news for those PR souls who fear a slow "death by disintermediation." But don't get too excited, not before you chew on this ironic tidbit from the study:

"For analysts what is most important is the strategic direction, progress against milestones or success against strategy and changes in the senior executive team. They are followed by changes in company structure, new product or service developments, plans for mitigating risk and customer satisfaction data. One to one meetings, quarterly earnings conference calls, company presentations and annual reports are the top four most important methods of communications. Analysts want regular communications with most specifying the preference of monthly or quarterly communications."

Maybe I am stoopid, but I can't see a single thing in that Wall Street wishlist that could not be handily covered in a CEO blog (and perhaps sundry additional official, and less-than-official, insider blogs).

My guess is that the keys to the kingdom of Wall Street communication will ultimately come from the jewel-boxes of Transparency and Regularity. A corporate website is neither transparent nor regularly-updated. A news article has the benefit of 3rd party context and value-added reporting - but only a handful of FORTUNE 1000 companies can rely on regular reports in the MSM; and even so, these media clips cannot be relied on by financial analysts to guide their estimates.

Will the corporate website become a catch-all for a company's various bloggers?

"Click here for the CEO blog...Click here for the product manager's blog...Click here for the customer support knowledgebase and blog..." ???

I think PR pros will be able to help companies create and sustain communities for each of these blogs, in addition to maintaining their traditional role in MSM relations.

Tip o'the hat to Steve Rubel for workin' weekends and noting this one.

4 Comments:

Blogger Michael Morton said...

You're right. A lot of the information that analysts seek can be covered by blogs. I think it will take more time for them to view blogs as a trusted source for such information. However, I am not sure if a corporate blog will ever replace a company's annual report...

March 14, 2006  
Anonymous Niall Cook said...

Michael makes a good point about trust. The wording of the question was "How important or unimportant are each of the following as a source of reliable information about companies?"

So whilst I think you are right in that blogs could (and should) provide for the needs of these analysts, when you look at the question I think 17% is pretty high.

Niall

March 14, 2006  
Blogger PR-Guy said...

Fair enough, guys, but - wouldn't you think that a CEO blog, at the very least, should be considered official and reliable? If the CEO must sign-off on the financials, I'd guess that their blog would also need to be qualified as "official" and thus, presumably, reliable.

For the record, I am not one of those blogs-for-blogs'-sake types of bloggers but I do believe they could empower greater transparency, community, accountability...all of which are good, eh?

March 14, 2006  
Anonymous Niall Cook said...

I totally agree, although I think there may still be a perception (particularly outside North America) that blogs are just used by angry consumers to attack companies and peddle lies.

You and I know this isn't the case, but I wonder how many of the analysts surveyed do.

March 14, 2006  

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