Corporate Eye

What Makes for Effective Investor Relations Sites? Part 42: Periodically Hit the Refresh Button

Every now and again, something happens that drives home to me generational differences. Usually, I wind up feeling really old when they occur, and just as usually it is my children that make me feel that way. And trust me, they are merciless in reminding me that I am no longer the slim, dark haired go-getter I remain in my mind’s eye.

Today, however, I was brought up short by one of my students. We were discussing a case in class and how to improve a company’s visibility with investors when one of my students suggested that one thing the company could do was to improve its web site. As the case occurred in 1993, I suggested to my student that most companies did not have web sites back then. She looked at me as if I were from Mars. The concept of a company not having a web site was utterly foreign to her.

Generational differences are fun to poke fun at, but I bring this up to make a slightly different point. That is, things can go from being considered an uncommon luxury to being to commonplace and essential in a very short period of time. So it is with investor relations web sites. Those of us that began our careers before the growth of the world wide web tend to think of such sites as adjuncts to ‘real’ information, which comes on pieces of paper or by talking to somebody. Consequently, the web site is often pushed down the chain of command as almost a clerical function or it is outsourced and forgotten about. Either way, the information content tends to languish.

However, if you have almost always relied upon the internet to feed you data, it’s your first default option to get information and it’s sure real to you. Everyone below the age of 25 that I’ve talked to feels this way. And these will be the analysts and portfolio managers of tomorrow.

So today’s thought on how to make your investor relations web site more effective: to look at the information you are providing to investors on your site with a critical eye at least once a year. The scope and pace of change on the internet is such that good companies have to regularly take a fresh set of eyes to the information they are providing to investors to make sure they are meeting the expectations of internet savvy younger investors.

And trust me, they’re getting younger every day (or at least it sure looks that way to me).

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John Palizza

John recently retired as a Lecturer in Management at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Management, where he taught investor relations. Prior to that, John was in charge of investor relations for Sysco Corporation and Walgreen Co. He holds a MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and a law degree from Loyola University of Chicago. You can learn more about John’s thinking about investor relations at his blog, Investor Relations Musings.