If you thought small cap social media investor relations was all about opening a Twitter and Facebook account, think again and let me know how you are going to handle all of these tools … or just give us a call.
Archive for the ‘Small-Cap CEO Lessons’ Category
BREAKING: SEC Says “YES” To Social Media. AGORACOM Online IR Platform For Investor Relations & Disclosure
This is simply big – and long overdue – news out of the SEC last night. In 2008, the SEC allowed companies to use their websites to conduct investor relations and make disclosure. As of today, companies can now use social media sites to conduct investor relations, including the release of material news, data and information.
WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT FOR US SMALL CAP COMPANIES?
1. Freedom To Communicate And Create Real Conversations With Investors – Until yesterday, small-cap CEO’s couldn’t say a thing about their businesses without consulting lawyers, their board and anybody else in the compliance process. This made it extremely difficult – actually impossible – for small-cap companies to release any new information via anything but a press release, especially those small but important tidbits of information that didn’t warrant the expense of a press release.
For example, this specific decision arose from an incident that occurred last summer when NetFlix CEO, Reed Hastings, posted to Facebook that NetFlix had exceeded 1 billion hours in a month for the first time. It was an important milestone that Hastings wanted investors to know about – but not necessarily something that warranted a press release or SEC filing.
The SEC took exception and opened an investigation in whether or not this violated selective disclosure rules.
However, as a result of this decision, the SEC now agrees that release of such information via social media sites is sufficient. The only requirement is that all companies must make it clear to investors that they plan to use a particular social media site (i.e. AGORACOM).
In the case of AGORACOM, all clients issue press releases announcing the launch of their online IR community. Until yesterday, those IR communities were used to post press releases and then answer questions from shareholders. NOW, small-cap executives can make a major leap forward by actually posting helpful information and data to help investors better understand their company and progress.
For example, a small-cap executive at a trade show can now go back to their hotel room and post an overview of the day including the number of visitors to their booth, product feedback, etc. Moreover, small cap companies can now provide regular updates on previously announced or brand new initiatives. The possibilities are endless. The most important thing is such disclosure can now lead to real conversations with investors that extend well beyond big material news.
This is critical for small-cap companies that typically don’t have or can’t afford a plethora of press releases and want to fill the information gaps with shareholders.
2. Significant Savings – In the sentence above, I touched on the fact that most small-cap companies simply can’t afford a plethora of press releases. As such, they are forced to release only the biggest, most important news, which significantly limited their frequency of communication with investors. The only option was to issue more press releases and spend more $$. With this new SEC decision, this is no longer an issue.
Moreover, small cap companies were often forced to issue “kitchen sink” press releases because they would piggyback smaller tidbits of information and updates with material press releases. I don’t have to tell you how that causes expenses to skyrocket when you are being charged by the word.
3. Size Doesn’t Matter – It doesn’t matter if your online shareholder audience is 200,000 or 200. As long as you’ve clearly told investors where to look for your information, you’re good to go.
4. Social Media vs Your Website - Investors simply don’t have time to navigate to every website of companies they’re either invested in, or interested in. They overwhelmingly prefer financial communities such as AGORACOM, or even non-financial communities such as Twitter where all information is available under one roof. Thanks to this decision, small-cap companies can now meet investors where they exist, rather than forcing them to visit stand alone websites that rarely change with the exception of new press releases.
This is a great day for small-cap companies and investors that want to truly engage in meaningful discussions without having to worry about disclosure rules and expenses. To be clear, you are still going to issue important, material press releases by press release.
However, much like the NetFlix example above, it is all those valuable morsels and tidbits of information that can now finally be set free to open the lines of communications with current and prospective investors.
“Great day” is actually an understatement. It is more accurate to say this day is monumental, even epic for small-cap investor relations.
To discuss this post and your next investor relations steps, contact me right now.
George Tsiolis, Founder
We are very pleased to announce that AGORACOM continues to hit significant traffic milestones in the small-cap space, with more than 33,990,000 (million) page views and 3,840,000 visits to AGORACOM in the first 3 quarters of 2012. These traffic figures are especially valuable given the significant issues surrounding small-cap stocks from May – August.
SMALL CAP RECOVERY SHOWS BLISTERING TRAFFIC AS INVESTORS RETURN
To this end, since the rebound in small-cap stocks after Labor Day, AGORACOM has recorded 4,000,000 (million) page views and 432,000 visits, which would equate into a blistering ~ 50,000,000 (million) page views and 5,000,000 (million) visits on an annualized basis.
AGORACOM continues to rank us amongst the top 0.3% of all websites on the planet.
As always, here is the official Google Analytics snapshot for the period
WHY IS AGORACOM YOUR SMALL CAP INVESTOR RELATIONS SOLUTION?
1. Serious & Engaged Small-Cap Investors
Each small-cap investor reads an average of 8.85 pages on every visit and stays on the site for 8:01 per visit … these small-cap investors are engaged in serious research. Give them a chance to discover you.
2. Bigger, Cheaper, Way Better
We’re not afraid to say it. Our programs are cheaper than traditional investor relations … but far more effective because we use technology to get you in front of a proven, massive audience. You save money, while directly reaching your target market of investors within 24 hours of starting your program.
3. Shares For Services – Work With AGORACOM, Keep All Your Cash
AGORACOM recently announced our “Cashless” IR program in which qualified companies trading on the TSX Venture / TSX or quoted on OTCQB / OTCQX or higher can pay for their entire AGORACOM program via Shares For Services. You get all of our marketing power AND keep your valuable cash for operations.
CONTACT US TO DISCUSS YOUR ONLINE IR NEEDS AND OUR POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS
I thank-you for reading and trust you found this information to be helpful. If you’re ready to step into real and sustainable online investor relations for 2012 and beyond, please contact us via this form and we will get back to you within 2 hours!
George Tsiolis, LL.B
Founder & President
AGORACOM Investor Relations
AGORACOM Audience Passes 24 Million Page Views, 2.7 Million Visits In 1St Half 2012
HOW IS YOUR COMPANY GOING TO RIDE THE GLOBAL QE WAVE?
Europe has officially announced an unlimited bond purchasing program and QE3 is imminent. Small-cap stocks have been revitalized with all small-cap indexes up sharply over the past month …. but this is only the beginning.
We believe this is the beginning of yet another massive long-term surge for small-cap stocks. Here is what the last surge looked like after the announcement of QE2
In July, we announced that AGORACOM hit significant traffic milestones in the small-cap space, with more than 24,000,000 (million) page views and 2,700,000 visits for the 1st half of the year. The next 6 months will be even stronger as small-cap investors re-enter the market in search of cheap, oversold small-cap stocks.
WHY IS AGORACOM YOUR SOLUTION?
1. Serious Small-Cap Investors
In addition to the traffic numbers above, each small-cap investor reads an average of 8.9 pages on every visit and stays on the site for 8:06 per visit … these small-cap investors are engaged in serious research.
2. Faster, Cheaper, Way Better
Our programs are cheaper than traditional investor relations … while directly reaching your target market of investors within 24 hours of starting your program.
3. Cashless 144 Program – Work With Us, Keep Your Cash
AGORACOM recently announced the launch of our “Cashless 144” IR program in which companies quoted on OTCQB, OTCQX or higher can pay for their entire AGORACOM Online Investor Relations program via 144 restricted shares. Companies must have a minimum 2-year operating history.
This program is extremely valuable for companies that want to execute a complete online investor relations and social media program without impacting their valuable cash reserves. Key information as follows:
COST AND TERM
Rule 144 stock: $85,000. No out of pocket cost to you. We become your investor
Term: 12 months. We don’t believe in short-term promotions
Program: Our entire program. Every tool. Nothing has been left o
4. A Specific Solution For Chinese Small-Cap Companies
CHINA 2.0 BEGINS WITH STRONG ONLINE INVESTOR RELATIONS
Chinese companies are under a sustained online attack via both major media sources (CNBC, Bloomberg, etc.) and short selling “analysts”. Much of this has been unfair BUT we only have ourselves to blame given the fact Chinese companies have outright failed to bridge the information gap between operations and investors on opposite sides of the world.
This has resulted in a lack of transparency, leading to disastrous results. Press releases, filings and occasional conferences are not sufficient for building relationships with current and prospective investors to combat the information gap exploited by short-selling opportunists.
The time has come to look at new solutions. The time has come to build “China 2.0” through a smart and global reaching online investor relations and communications with investors.
CONTACT US TO DISCUSS YOUR ONLINE IR NEEDS AND OUR POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS
I thank-you for reading and trust you found this information to be helpful. If you’re ready to step into real and sustainable online investor relations for 2012 and beyond, please contact me below.
George Tsiolis, LL.B
Founder & President
AGORACOM Investor Relations
416-496-0496 / 866-234-9934
Small-Cap CEO Lesson: You Are Not Berkshire Hathaway, So Write Better Headlines For Your Press Releases
I came across this press release today:
Canadian Overseas Petroleum Reports Second Quarter Results
CALGARY, Aug. 10, 2012 /CNW/ – Canadian Overseas Petroleum Limited (“COPL” or the “Company”) (XOP: TSX-V) announces its second quarter results for the three months and six months ended June 30, 2012. The Interim Financial Statements and Management’s Discussion and Analysis for the second quarter can be viewed on the company’s website at www.canoverseas.com or on SEDAR at www.sedar.com under the COPL listing.
That was the entire press release, with the usual About and Contact information below it. Here are my comments:
1. I understand the trend towards notice and access press releases, which basically entails companies advising they have issued a press release and letting you know where you can read it. It has numerous advantages, especially the cost of having to distribute a long quarterly report. Companies across the entire cap-range are using this new technique to cut down costs, including the richest man on the planet.
(Side Note – What Is A Notice And Access Press Release? – Notice and Access press releases give companies the option to stop sending full-text news releases and instead use paid PR wires to advise investors that new information is available on companies’ websites and provide direct links to the information.) Via IR Web Report
2. Canadian Overseas Petroleum, or any small cap for that matter, is not Berkshire Hathaway. If you want new investors to read your press releases, you absolutely have to get more descriptive in your headline. Tease us with some figures related to revenues, income, production, growth … anything to make investors want to pick your press release out of the pile and actually click through for more.
3. We now live in a social, interconnected world where your actual and prospective investors can “Like”, “Tweet”, “Retweet” and post compelling news with just one click. Give them a reason to get you and your news viral. I guarantee you that “Reports Second Quarter Results” doesn’t work for anybody with a market cap under $100 Million.
Press releases are an important component of investor relations for any small-cap company … make them count.
Like this Small-Cap CEO Lesson? View all of my Small-Cap CEO Lessons here.
Much of my time this week has been spent flagging calls from small-cap CEO’s asking what they should be doing about Investor Relations in this market. Given the fact I can’t get on the phone with all of you, I’ve listed 8 effective things you should be doing right now to take control of your investor relations during this market turmoil.
GETTING INTO THE RIGHT MINDSET
Before even starting on my 8 best practices below, you are going to need to get into the right mindset. Specifically, it is important to understand that during this kind of market environment, investor relations is not just about increasing your share price. Every company is getting hit, so to think you can buck that trend isn’t realistic.
Rather, your goals in this environment are:
- Short Term – To mitigate, even stop any further losses to your market capitalization.
- Longer Term – To take advantage of competitors with weak or non-existent strategies and attract new investors.
Both goals are heavily dependent on choosing the right philosophy. Specifically:
(+) If you listen to me and get proactive, a properly executed strategy will yield great short and long-term results.
(-) If, as some small cap CEO’s have told me, you choose to run for cover and fail to communicate, you are creating a guaranteed recipe for disaster.
THE 8 BEST INVESTOR RELATIONS PRACTICES DURING THIS MARKET TURMOIL
With all this in mind, here is the AGORACOM recipe for success during periods of market turmoil.
1] Silence Is Death - Have you ever had a friend or family member owe you money but suddenly become hard to get a hold of? How did you feel? Do not make your shareholders feel this way or they’ll write you off as a bad debt and wash their hands clean of you. This is no time to duck for cover if you believe in your business, your plan, your management team and your board.
2] Provide Long-Term Vision - Investors are worried by these short-term market gyrations. It is your job to get shareholders to look beyond this gyration and remind them that you are building a long-term business that will survive and thrive far beyond 2012.
3] Accentuate Your Strengths - Provide shareholders with a press released corporate update that discusses the strength of your product / services / project / technology. Be sure to also address the long-term viability and strength of your industry. Remind investors that there will always be demand for your products and you are one of the companies that will be benefiting from it.
4] State Of The Union - Support your corporate update with a multi-media “state of the union”. Specifically, tape an audio or video address for your shareholders that conveys confidence. If your text based corporate update in step 2 provides the facts that assure investors, your multi-media address will provide your shareholders with confidence they are in the right hands. No matter what the context, people need to hear from their leaders. Think Winston Churchill in WW II, or George Bush after 9/11.
5] You’re Not Bullet Proof - Be honest about any negative impacts to your operations. Shareholders don’t expect you to be bullet-proof, so openly telling them about the 1 or 2 items in your business that have been impacted demonstrates an honest and realistic management team.
6] Differentiate Yourself From The Pack - Though you should never specifically name a competitor, do to tell investors about any significant general problems with your competitors, some of whom will not make it through this period due to poor planning or business models. Differentiate yourself from the pack.
7] Business As Usual - Do not hold back communications as part of a “market timing” strategy. Yes, be careful not to issue press releases on a specific morning where futures are showing significant weakness due to a macro event – but it is otherwise business as usual, so get on with your business and continue issuing press releases.
8] Capitalize On New Blood - Never, ever stop looking for new investors. You are in a position to benefit from the following two ways:
First, we all know that a significant portion of small-cap and micro-cap stocks are unfortunately built upon unviable business models. That is the nature of the business. Shareholders in those companies will see the writing on the wall, take their tax losses and start looking for high-quality alternatives that can help them get back above water over the next 12-24 months. Be that alternative!
Second, investors that were smart enough to raise cash earlier in the year will be looking to come back into the markets over the next few months. They will be looking for good companies with good management teams executing a plan that will succeed over the next 2-3 years. Be there when they come knocking!
If you need any more proof about the validity of this plan, I ask you to once again follow the AGORACOM experience. Despite the fact markets are going through tough times, we have managed to maintain a status quo and actually grow while other investor relations firms suffer.
Why? We practice what we preach:
A] We openly communicate with and help our customers as much as ever during this turmoil. We don’t go silent.
B] We continue marketing ourselves via search engines, our blog and newsletters to attract new customers.
If you follow our plan, never lose site of the fact that you currently have great shareholders and remember there are millions of other shareholders looking for companies like yours, you will succeed in mitigating short-term losses while maximizing long-term success.
Did You Find This Article Helpful? What To Do Next …
1] Read George’s Small-Cap CEO Lessons For Free Powerful Advice On Great Investor Relations
2] Contact AGORACOM To Discuss Your Online Investor Relations Needs and Solutions
I first published this story in August of 2007 - but it is even more important today than ever before.
Now that AGORACOM Small Cap TV has cracked 400,000 views, one of the things we have noticed in our morning research is that small-cap companies continue to release news just at or before the open. This might have been a smart practice back in the day when only brokers could access press releases on their screens but it makes no sense whatsoever now that the web opens up your press releases to the entire world.
Folks, we are in a social media world (and never going back) in which investor communities are becoming invaluable sources of information for small-cap investors. As a result, small-cap and micro-cap information is being analyzed and discussed by and on AGORACOM, StockTwits, Twitter, Bloggers, Commentators, Podcasters, and Vloggers everyday. Much of this collaboration takes place well before market open as online investors prepare for their day. The more time you give them to discover your news, the more time you give them to share it via their preferred networks …. for free!
THE LEAST THAT YOU COULD DO
Being the most recent news just prior to market open is no longer a smart strategy. It’s a dumb strategy. If you want your great news syndicated around the web by these incredible reporting sources, you have to give them a chance to see your news, digest it and report on it. That can’t happen at 9:15 because professional sources such as AGORACOM TV have a cut-off of 8:45 AM so that we can be published by 9:45. Individual investors also have the reality of a job that most begin by no later than 9:00 AM, which explains why most are doing their research between 7:30 – 8:30.
As such, if your press release is coming out at 9:30, you’ve robbed yourself of potential mass coverage by one or more sources that might have otherwise picked up your news and sent it right around the world.
Bottom line – put your news out by no later than 8:30 AM EST. In fact, somewhere between 8:00 and 8:30 AM EST makes the most sense …. unless shunning free coverage is actually part of your investor relations plan.
Online Investor Relations Done Right – UC Resources Embraces Skype, Online Q&A, Video To Reach Shareholders
When Gary Monaghan was appointed CEO of UC Resources a few months ago, it was to usher in a new era for the company and its shareholders. Nonetheless, you hear that just about anytime a new coach takes over a team or a company, so some shareholders of UC Resources could have been forgiven if they didn’t hold their breath. Well, it’s time for them to exhale because Gary has done nothing less than exceed expectations by embracing online investor relations to create better communications and relationships with shareholders. Here are the highlights:
- On November 10th, UC Resources announced the sale of its interests in the highly promising McFaulds Lake (a.k.a. Ring Of Fire) region for $6,000,000 to Cliffs Natural Resources in order to focus on its Mexican production and exploration projects
- With some shareholders expressing concern over this shift away from the Ring Of Fire, Gary took to Skype just a couple of days later to communicate his specific reasons for the move and why it was in the best interests of shareholders. Shareholder response was overwhelmingly positive and appreciative of Gary’s proactive step to reach out and speak with them.
- On November 30th, UC issued a further press release to update shareholders on the status of the transaction AND the company’s plans upon successful close of the sale in January.
- On January 6, 2012, UC Resources announced closing of the $6,000,000 sale.
- On January 12, less than a week later, Gary announced an online Q&A in which shareholders were invited to ask questions about the company’s Mexican assets and future direction
- On January 16, Gary and the company provided answers to all of the questions asked by investors
- On January 17, Gary and UC Resources broadcast a video to update their shareholders on the sale, as well as, their Mexican Operations
Gary and UC Resources may be clients of AGORACOM – but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he simply gets online investor relations. Specifically, though conferences and road shows are great places to meet your investors in person 3-4 times per year, online collaboration is the only way to truly collaborate with your shareholders anytime and anywhere.
This is especially important for small-cap companies that lack analyst and media coverage to fill the gaps. As a result, shareholders heavily rely on management to go beyond press releases and actually communicate with them about the intricacies that potentially affect their investments. Communications that are just one click away create greater confidence, turst and belief in the long-term vision of the company, leading to a greater number of shareholders becoming long-term investors and the company’s best ambassadors.
INVESTORS OVERWHELMINGLY APPROVE … INDUSTRY EXPERTS COVERING THE STORY
More than just lip service, look how Gary’s Q&A has shot to the top of the most favourite posts as voted by shareholders:
Moreover, his efforts are already starting to get recognized by industry experts:
Congratulations to Gary and the entire UC Resources team. We not only look forward to more of the same … we also hope this will serve as a great example for other small-cap companies to follow.
Contact AGORACOM to discuss your online investor relations program.
SEC PROVIDES GUIDANCE ON SUPER 8-K’S
In 2005, the SEC adopted a rule that required the filing of what is an equivalent to a public offering prospectus for a merger with a public reporting shell company. In recent months the SEC has taken to reviewing these transactions and issued advice based on these reviews.
The SEC has reiterated that virtually any acquisition, including by lease, merger or exchange, triggers the obligation to file a Super 8-K. Issuers were also reminded that Item 9.01(b) of Form 8-K requires pro forma financial information to be included, not just the financial statements of the acquired company. Additionally, any exhibits, including those representing material contracts, have to be in English. Clear disclosure of holding company and control arrangements, as well as a detailed description of both current and planned business going forward is also required. Lastly, if risk factors are included, they must be tailored specifically to the company.
The SEC also offered guidance pertaining to the involvement of officers in the company. If officers are not spending full time in the business, they should be specific about the time they do devote. It is also important to include a summary compensation table for the acquired company’s most recent fiscal year. In disclosing affiliate and related transactions, a two year look back prior to the public company’s latest fiscal year is required in describing the standards used to determine director independence
Richardson & Patel, LLP | 10900 Wilshire Blvd | Suite 500 | Los Angeles | CA | 90024
Good morning to you all. I’m very proud to announce that views of AGORACOM videos have surpassed 400,000 since we first began broadcasting daily shows, client interviews and other great small-cap video content. This is great news for clients and the entire small-cap industry because it proves up yet another effective, efficient and low-cost way to communicate with current shareholders and potential investors. See my comments below on why connecting with shareholders via video is critical.
AGORACOM Videos are broadcast on more channels than we can count but here are just a few of them:
What is even more encouraging is the fact that video views are accelerating for the following reasons:
- We’ve added on more shows. We’ve grown from AGORACOM Small Cap TV to AGORACOM Small Cap Gold and Resources TV and Chinese Small Cap TV
- Each show has become it’s own stand alone channel on sites such as YouTube, BlipTV, Yahoo Video and other sites.
- We’ve made our daily shows timely and relevant by releasing them between 9:30 – 9:45 AM EST every morning right after the open. This consistency creates the kind of reliability investors like.
- Our daily videos provide great value to small-cap investors. How? We filter the hundreds of small-cap press releases issued every morning and report on the best 1-5 of the day.
- We’ve integrated all the videos into our social media streams on Twitter, Facebook, StockTwits and other avenues
- We’ve made our videos extremely search engine friendly by adding accurate descriptions and customized info for every show.
DOMINATING SEARCH FOR “SMALL CAP VIDEOS”
As a result of our hard and meticulous work, search engines are starting to reward us for our efforts, which only leads to more exposure amongst small-cap investors. For example:
- Google Video – We hold all top 10 spots for searches of “small-cap resource stocks“
- YouTube – We dominate the entire first page for searches of “Chinese small cap stocks“
- Google Video – We hold 8 of the top 10 spots for searches of “small-cap“
- Google Video – We hold 9 of the top 10 spots for searches of “small-cap gold stocks“
- YouTube – We hold 9 of the top 10 spots for searches of “small-cap resource stocks“
INCORPORATING SKYPE INTERVIEWS WITH SMALL-CAP CEO’S
We are so focused on the importance and relevance of video to the small-cap industry, that we’ve recently begun incorporating Skype Video interviews into our programming. Again, the premise is to get small-cap companies and investors connecting with each other immediately after the release of material news. Expect to see this grow significantly in 2011.
WHY IS VIDEO SO IMPORTANT TO SMALL-CAP COMPANIES?
One of the greatest problems faced by small-cap companies, even the really good ones, is the lack of connection with investors beyond issuing press releases. As a result, investors have no loyalty to you if business simmers down for a while because they’ve been trained to only react to good news. As we all know, that simply isn’t possible for most small-cap companies. All of you go through slow and dry periods for various reasons. Even when business is going well, you often have to wait on the next big sales contract, drill result, etc. God help you if the wait is longer than expected.
As such, connecting with investors creates a personal relationship that buys you the time to execute your plan. Video is an excellent connector because it allows you to communicate as openly as possible without actually standing in front of shareholders. Investors love video because watching facial expressions and body language is the next best thing to strapping you into a lie detector. It also makes shareholders far more likely to share what you have to say because video beats boring text.
If you’re a small-cap company and don’t have an online video strategy yet, I suggest you start thinking about one. Alternatively, call us and we’ll take care of it.