Reporting and Technology.

Breakfast Briefing London June 23, 2010.

Summary of my early morning panel on “How is technology shaping the future of shareholder communications?” hosted by Further.

The format of this breakfast briefing is quite straight forward as Patrick Eastwood from Further put it. Each panelist had about 5-10 minutes to bring forward his main message. After a quick wrap up there was another 30-45 minutes of Q&A. This setting paved a very effective way to bring new inputs and secured not to waste time of the attening 30+ corporate reporting representatives in chitchat and self-staging.

First one to talk was Julian Lewis, Insight consultant at Precise. He directed the auditory through statistical data pointing out the growing importance of Social Media for brand and reputation management of big corporates. Key elements to think about from a corporate communication point of view: Try to filter growing webcommunication noise for your companies main areas of interest. Monitor and connect to opinion leaders of your business.

As second panelist I had the chance to bring in some international perspectives on online corporate reporting. Beyond doubt the UK is one of the leading countries in terms of fully-fledged HTML reports. More than 66% of all FTSE 100 companies offer a conversion of their Annual Reports and Accounts into HTML. Main difference to their European counterparts is the marketing focus of UK online reports. Many companies spend a lot of money on integration of Video or Flash/Multimedia but do not meet basic reporting needs like a powerful search tool or XLS-downloads of tables. This is summarised by an atypical strong appearance of hybrid reports in the UK, where the narrative part is high end HTML and the financial statements are just for download as PDF.

Bryan Smith Digital corporate communications professional formerly at Rio Tinto then gave very good insights into the use of social media for everyday corporate communciations. Pointing out examples from what gone wrong at BP, Dell effectively selling their product Dell and how TVI Pacific uses Social Media consitently on their whole communcication strategy to leverage their reach: Not the amount of money you are spending determines your succes but the degree of your committment and involvement in social media.

Patrick Gonsalves, Deputy company secretary at Barclays then showed us how their approach to corporate reporting changed in the past four years. From formerly printing more than 700,000 Annual Reviews they cut down this print run to just 150,000 now. Equally they invested in an cutting edge online version trying to shift their stakeholders to use this as their main entrance to Barclays financial reporting. Main target is to get users to come back using their online reports. As logical next step he considers the extension to HTML interim reports in order to consistently drive users to their powerful online reports.

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