Dell: 1st investor relations blog of a major corporation – case study #2

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2008/05/11 1 views

in c blogging - case studies

    In the old days an enterprise could have a communications strategy where the communications people just answered the phone and dialed up and read from a script.

    Today, corporations like Dell or Intel need PR professionals and marketing experts to be as effective on strategic development as well as on messaging and using social media with clarity.

    Finally, making sure tactical execution produces the results targeted for is a must.

In case you wonder, our case example #1 was:

Social media – Intel shows how e-proxy can be done effectively – case study #1

What is Dell doing?

Dell brought the blog online in a soft launch in early November before a more public unveiling at its December annual shareholder meeting. To increase awareness, IR VP Lynn Tyson did a podcast on the subject for the Hobson and Holtz Report and the IR team has notified key financial bloggers.

Dell has had a blog about its products that it has used effectively in combination with more traditional events. The Subperball each January is a mega event in the U.S., Dell encouraged its customers on its own corporate blog to participate using Twitter and rank commercials. An example might be:

    “Reply to the superbowlads account, name the commercial, and give it a rating of 1-5 starts, 5 being the best. An example is:
    @superbowlads That Dell commercials was great 5 stars.”

But now it has launched one for investor relations:

The blog is a place for serious discussion about the strategy and direction of the company. So far, topics include how Dell should use its cash and what constitutes ’21st Century IR.’ These posts have drawn a range of comments from Dell’s IR team and its investors.

The blog has been up for a while but we thought we mention it now after having had the time to follow it for a while.

Is this a Trend?

Ever more companies are moving investor relations to the web and use various types of social media, such as podcasts and blogs to get their message out. Besides that, ever more investors use the internet for collecting information about their stocks; regulatory processes encourage the use of social media as well.

For instance, the Advisory Committee on Improvements to Financial Reporting created to advise the SEC on improving corporate reporting has urged the agency to update its eight-year-old guidelines for the use of corporate websites for investor disclosure.

In a draft report (PDF 3.08 MB, 110 pages) issued on 2008-01-11, the committee calls on the SEC to issue a new comprehensive interpretive release on the use of corporate websites for disclosures.

It says the guidance should address such issues as:

  • Companies’ liability for information presented in a summary format;
  • Treatment of hyperlinked information “from within or outside” a company’s website; in addition,
  • “clarification of the public availability of information disclosed on a reporting company website.”

The last comprehensive interpretive release on using corporate websites for disclosure was provided in 2000. This guidance was overtaken by both new technologies and investors’ experience using the Web.

SEC urged to issue new IR website guidelines

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So where will we end up?

Changes are developing fast and we will continue to bring you examples.

The Dell case illustrates that it takes time until a firm gets the hang of how to better communicating with its investors using new media. For instance, with Dell things did not look so good there for a while. The early posts were a bit too long and perhaps a little oversimplified.

Nevertheless, things have improved since then. Important is that whether it is an idea for a new product or service (for instance, Dell’s Ideastorm ) or a new strategic direction, the product has to satisfy the target audience.

At first glance, some companies have apparently succeeded in influencing the social media space. For instance, Dell’s approach gets much attention in the media and by bloggers. People refer to it as an example for how organizations can build a virtual community. Unfortunately, usability issues and globalization do not filter through into the design at the Dell portal.

trend spotting – Twitter, Dell and others – checklist for building trust with your global social media audience

Social media requires that marketers plan for long-term engagements with various stakeholders including but not limited to customers and investors. Dell has succeeded in some traction here. However, it is now the time to step on the gas and continue forward.

As well, trust is earned, not simply bestowed. Hence, product reviews by customers on a corporate website do not always create the credibility needed to encourage readers to buy. Matter of fact, most reviews by journalists are not of the kind of quality needed to feel comfortable going out and buying.

Maybe it is a cultural thing but the way many North American companies are using social media will leave their customers elsewhere unsatisfied. More quality and less hype would help for starters.

Nevertheless, get your feet wet now, start traction and test these things before your competition has already fenced and occupied your territory. Have you registeed your firm’s name on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and so on?

What other things do enteprises need to consider to do well using social media. Let us know, leave a comment below.


The primary goal of my social network is to empower me to connect with people and maintain weak ties with them.

Accordingly, social networks neither help me simplify my communication nor stay in touch with close contacts. For the latter I prefer using email and IM.

Finally, staying in touch with everyone constantly is too much work for me.

What about you, please leave a comment.

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