Archive for “July, 2008”

SEC, RegFD and the SMPR

Dominic Jones of IR Web Report delivered some important news over this morning.

In a meeting held this morning, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said that companies can use blogs and websites rather than paid newswires to meet fair disclosure requirements.

The SEC has not yet published their guidence on this matter – expect a number of conditions to apply when that arrives in a few days time – but this is huge news for proponents of direct disclosure from the company website rather than via intermediaries.

Chairman Cox indicated 4 parts the interpretive guidance would cover:

  • it would clarify how information posted to a company website can be considered ‘public’ under RegFD.
  • clarifies the liability for certain types of electronic disclosure; how to provide access to historical/archived data; guidence on link to third party sites without having to ‘adopt’ the content there for liability purposes; appropriate use of summary information.
  • info posted on company websites would not generally be subject to the rules under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act related to a company’s disclosure rules and procedures.
  • clarification that in consideration of the dynamic nature of websites, information need not be presented in a ‘printable’ format unless required by other specific rules

A short Quicktime of Chairman Cox is available, but a full archived video of the July 30th meeting should be available later today.

It looks like a social media press releases like the Digital Snippets platform could become a powerful tool, not just for the PR or marketing departments, but for the Investor Relations department as well.

SMG to Acquire Livingston Communications

It is my pleasure to be able to share some very exciting news with you – Social Media Group has signed a letter of intent to purchase Washington, DC-based Livingston Communications, one of the world’s most highly respected social PR firms.

Former CEO Geoff Livingston, author of Now Is Gone: A Primer on New Media for Executives and Entrepreneurs, will continue to head the DC office, joining our global team as Executive Vice President, Americas. Geoff’s primary areas of responsibility will be North American business development and strategy. You can read his post about our deal here. I am thrilled to get the chance to work closely with Geoff – there’s a reason he’s one of the industry’s most highly-respected thought leaders, and we are going to make a killer team.

We also welcome Geoff’s fabulous staff – a group of talented communications professionals who will round out our already stellar lineup (can you say Social Media All-Stars?).

The acquisition is expected to be formally completed by the end of August, and will bring our collective staff to 20, making us the world’s largest independent social media marketing and communications firm. Though our collective client list is already impressive (Ford, SAP, Network Solutions, Yamaha, Harlequin Publishing…) we now have the bandwidth and complete service offerings to happily go toe-to-toe with any traditional agency’s so-called “social media practice”. Our clients have told us again and again that they want specialized expertise in this space, and we look forward to continuing to help companies in the Global 2000 understand how social media is transforming the way they do business, without having to shoehorn that experience into a traditional agency model.

SMG will also acquire the internationally recognized Buzz Bin blog and the BlogPotomac conference as part of the deal, which is for an undisclosed amount of cash and stock.

Please join me in welcoming Geoff and his team to SMG – exciting times ahead for all of us!

Photo credit: Eli Singer

Long Distance Jamming

In a previous life I worked for one of the biggest financial institutions in Canada. The job required a two hour commute each way using a bus, a train, the subway and a bit of shoe leather thrown in for good measure. When I ran into some personal problems and needed to spend more time at home, I approached my boss with a proposal to work from home one day a week. The answer was a resounding and unequivocal, NO. No discussion, No negotiation, No debate, just NO. The reasons given were immature technology and corporate culture. Since I was unable to find a work-life balance to accommodate my needs, I was forced to leave the company about two months later.

Fast forward 15 years, I’m working in downtown Dundas (pop. 21,000) and we’ve just hired a Director of Client Services based in Calgary and an Intermediate Project Manager based in Ottawa. It wasn’t too long ago that I would never have believed that these positions could be filled by people in remote locations but apparently location doesn’t matter anymore. The people we just hired are eminently capable and we would have been foolish not to snap up this kind of talent when we had the opportunity to do so. But the technology is now in place, their work ethic is beyond question and our culture is still evolving. Then Doug raised a concern that’s had me thinking ever since. How do remote workers absorb the culture that develops at an organization through birthday cakes, random doughnut days, the (virtual) cowbell, impromptu brainstorming sessions, support through difficult projects and those Friday lunches at the local pub? How do they get to understand the company philosophy that goes beyond what can be documented and stored on the intranet?

A couple of years ago I stumbled across an album (on vinyl) by Ahmad Jamal called Digital Works. It’s a collection of some of his most famous tunes recorded using state-of-art equipment and the best instruments available to create the ultimate listening experience. When I got home and put it on the sound stopped me dead in my tracks. Here’s a great artist playing great songs using the best technology available, and it works. I was also lucky enough to get to see him live at the old Bermuda Onion in Toronto with the same band playing the same songs and what a completely different experience. With the band feeding off the energy and immediate feedback of the crowd and each other, Poinciana never sounded so good.

Talent and technology can produce great work in isolation, like Digital Works, but having people to riff off of generates energy and can take us to unexpected places. Our challenge is to extend our culture to our remote locations and to give everyone the opportunity to jam when they need to. With the people we have I’m confident that we can and will make it happen. There’s no question in my mind that when employees are able to share a culture and buy into a common philosophy that companies develop a swagger and an attitude that comes from knowing that you are sharing something that everyone cares about. Exciting times.

Commoncraft does LinkedIn

We all know what LinkedIn is for, right? It’s for making connections. WRONG! It’s for much more than that and the new Commoncraft video, LinkedIn in Plain English, explains the what, why and how.

Don’t feel bad if you missed the boat on this one. It’s obvious that people, me included, weren’t using this social tool to its potential. This is probably the reason why the folks at LinkedIn decided to hire the folks at Commoncraft to make a video about it. Why not? I can’t think of a more appropriate strategy in this case.

Another smart move was to post the videos on YouTube in two parts, here and here. Now, I’m not the biggest advocate of You Tube but it works in this case. LinkedIn Marketing has established a You Tube presence since October 2007. They have 37 other informational videos about their site, 4 favourite videos, 98 subscribers and in-depth contact information. There is room for comments, sharing and the added bonus of watching videos from other users that are related to LinkedIn. (Hopefully nothing inappropriate pops up). All in all, their Commoncraft video fits in nicely; there would be no reason to host it elsewhere.

Enjoy watching the video, whether it is here, on Commoncraft or on You Tube!