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Investor Relations

Chipotle Comms Clarifies: Fear Not the ‘Guacpocalypse’

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Here’s a case in which a company’s PR might almost regret having to contradict a viral story.

A couple of days ago a post on ThinkProgress highlighted a section of Chipotle’s annual report to investors, which expressed concern over the potential effect of global climate change and subsequent extended droughts on the availability of avocados and other produce.

“…we may choose to temporarily suspend serving menu items, such as guacamole or one or more of our salsas, rather than paying the increased cost.”

The story went viral primarily due to the fact that it provided alternately bored/hungry/angry Americans with yet another excuse to scream at each other online. In other words, it was just another crappy, completely unproductive day in America’s political comment threads, which exist just to prove our theory that the human race might not be worth saving.

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Storytelling for Media Professionals

Storytelling for Media ProfessionalsStarting April 22, this in-person workshop will teach you the specific ways to incorporate storytelling into your personal and professional life. Students will examine the role of storytelling in business and put their newfound skills into practice with a series of improvisation, writing, and presentation exercises designed to help them uncover personal stories. Register now! 

Millennial Investors More Focused on CSR as a Value Indicator

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Ever had trouble convincing your clients of the value of CSR efforts? We’re guessing the answer to that question is “yes” because, in most cases, businesses judge the importance of public sentiment on the degree to which it influences investor relations.

We found a recent piece in The Guardian encouraging in that regard, however: as the average age of the investor class goes down, its interest in CSR and “profit with purpose” goes up.

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Can PR Spending Predict a New Tech Bubble?

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Earlier this week the San Francisco Chronicle published a sort of insider’s perspective on how the state of tech PR could reveal a pending Silicon Valley “bubble”—and they asked a couple of our favorite contacts to weigh in.

Tech’s venture capital take in 2013 was its highest since 2001, leading some unnamed observers to both wonder whether there’s a new bubble approaching and, if so, when it might burst. As white-hot industries begin their rapid fall back to earth, PR budgets are usually the first to get cut—so market experts look to the communications industry for clues regarding the health of Silicon Valley at large.

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Abercrombie & Fitch Opts for Severe Corporate Makeover

shutterstock_131601398Another troubled company has taken its plastic surgery experiments beyond the cosmetic: this morning Abercrombie & Fitch announced an internal re-structuring that resembles a last-minute attempt to reverse its own failing fortunes.

The company voted to add three new appointees to its board of directors, terminate its “poison pill” shareholders’ rights plan and, perhaps most significantly, officially separate the Chairman and CEO roles.

To summarize, perpetual mouth-in-foot victim Mike Jeffries will remain the company’s leader in name only; the board has effectively re-asserted control over A&F by limiting the power of both its shareholders and its public face.

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The PhDs of Financial Scandals: Power, Hubris and (Billions of) Dollars

Citibank Game Final2Current financial scandals may be more complex and less glitzy than Wall Street crimes of the 1980s, but they involve similar underlying factors, according to two noted authors. Power, influence, egos, and hordes of money still play significant roles. Wolves still prowl Wall Street these days, though their fur has changed.

Bryan Burrough, co-author of Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, and William D. Cohan, author of Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World, spoke at a Museum of the City of New York event earlier this month to discuss changes in Wall Street culture and offer comments on the evolving cast of characters.

Press Coverage and Politics:
Press coverage has been hindered by complex “Wall Street jargon”, said Cohan. Financiers “created a black box so that fewer reporters can cover the subject since terminology is so foreign.” Financial reporting isn’t an area that can be easily added as a specialty.

The political climate also factors into today’s situation. “The public resents that bankers got bailouts for problems they caused and everyone else got bupkis”, said Cohan. He lamented the “symbiotic relationship between government and Wall Street and the revolving door” of former government officials joining financial firms.

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Here’s a Simple Solution to Abercrombie’s Reputation Problems

how-abercrombie-justifies-paying-ceo-mike-jeffries-more-during-a-downturnAnd the answer is…drumroll please…dump the CEO!

It’s almost too simple, right? Abercrombie & Fitch would probably be better off in the long run if they produced some decent clothes or engaged in a little bit of that magic we call “rebranding”—but for now investors seem to think that chief super-douche Mike Jeffries needs to GTFO ASAP.

Unfortunately, BuzzFeed reports that the reason one “activist” Wall Street investor is so done with Jeffries has more to do with falling stock prices than the fact that he’s an idiot with a chronic case of Foot In Mouth Syndrome. The investment firm’s “open letter” is long and tedious if you don’t work in finance, and there’s a bunch of stuff about mismanagement and failed attempts at expansion. But we’ll summarize: Money good. Jeffries bad. Contract ends in February. HINT HINT HINT.

It would be a real shame if the guy who said “Dude, I’m not an old fart who wears his jeans up at his shoulders” could no longer afford to pay models to wear “proper underwear” on his corporate jet, wouldn’t it?

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Will Mobile Apps Change the Investor Relations Game?

Investor relations doesn’t get quite as much media attention as some of the more colorful aspects of the PR industry, but IROs (investor relations officers) are extremely important to most firms.

In many places, IR still runs on traditional paper documents–but quite a few organizations have begun using mobile technology to further empower both IROs and invest0rs.

We recently had a chance to speak to Jeff Corbin–an author and PR veteran with 15 years of IR experience whose team created theIRapp to help facilitate IR’s move into the 21st century–about what this development means for the future of the practice.

Why did you feel the need to create this app at this point in time? 

Over the past 15 years I’ve seen how tech has evolved (or not evolved), and the same players have offered the same services for many, many years. All of a sudden there’s something new: mobile as a communications platform didn’t exist the same way six or seven years ago.

Right now all companies need IR sections on their websites, but my professional view is that every company will soon be expected to have an IR app. It’s a whole new platform, not just an extension of the corporate website.

Do you think investors are ready to move toward mobile or are you anticipating a change to come?

If you go to an investor conference, everyone has a mobile device. The tech is already here, and they’re looking for instant gratification. The question: How are they using info from these devices to inform their investment decisions, and how can it be made simpler?

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Why Startups Should Invest in PR

We’ve asked ourselves the question before: Should startup companies with shoestring budgets spend their crucial capital on public relations services?

Of course we always wanted to answer “yes”, but now we have some testimony to back that answer up. According to Ken Gaebler‘s recent PR Daily post, a PR investment “boosts a company’s chances of getting acquired”. He cites his own personal experience, writing that his own tech startup used PR services to help make the big sale–and that any emerging business that chooses to avoid PR firms could end up depressing the value of its own product.

Gaebler’s points:

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Spotify Isn’t Making Any Money

Chances are you’re familiar with Spotify. You’ve probably even used it a few times—and if you registered you’ve almost certainly started seeing status updates every single time one of your friends listens to a damn song! Wow that’s annoying. (All you have to do to stop that nonsense is change the settings on your account, but we digress.)

Spotify is a pretty cool service in some ways. It’s given us a chance to access obscure music whenever we want without buying anything; we just have to either pony up a paltry $9.99 a month or listen to some stupid ads between every two or three tracks. And we don’t have to feel guilty about using it because we’re not stealing the music we hear. All good, right?

Not really. The problem is that, despite the Facebook bromance and potential relationships with big-name sponsors like Coca-Cola and Samsung, Spotify’s business model doesn’t seem to be working. In fact, their net income for 2011 was negative $60 million. That’s a whole lot of iTunes downloads, guys.

The funny thing is that the main factor dragging the company’s earnings down is the cost of royalties—in spite of the fact that the artists and labels who produced the music in question make less than 5/1000 of a penny for each play—less than any other comparable service.

Our question: Why is Spotify Premium so cheap in the first place? Wouldn’t most hardcore music fans pay more than 10 bucks a month for unlimited streaming content?

Does Spotify need a re-branding or what?

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