Its not the strongest that survive

It’s hard to find an industry that’s not experiencing dramatic change. Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” As part of our current economic conditions and as financial consumers, we must be responsive to change.

Change begins with the evolving dynamics of our investment world. The internet has become one of the most important tools for public corporations, impacting and expanding the methods for communicating a company’s investment story. With the onset of Sedar’s electronic filing and the ability for news releases to land through news wires instantly, the world of news dissemination now moves at the blink of an eye. Access to information is easier than ever. Conversely, this makes it that much more difficult to share it with the right audience.

Our generation has changed. Along with that, comes the change in our efforts to pursue further opportunities. America now has a new President, a new administration, and a new SEC Chair and is in the process of a complete an overhaul of its policies. The biggest change in our last decade has come. President Barrack Obama is leading this change.

Many say that President Obama’s campaign was won in part by how he interacted with change. He embraced today’s current trends and technologies through his use of social networking tools such as Twitter and video presentation tools such as Google’s YouTube.

The use of these online tools allowed President Obama to communicate and present his ideas to everyone, at anytime. No longer did American citizens have to rush home from work to watch his speeches to determine if he should lead their country. They could now, at anytime, know what he was doing with Twitter and more importantly, see what he was doing through his consistent video uploads on YouTube.

If America’s newest president is embracing change, shouldn’t we?

I recently spoke with the VP of Communications for a Canadian resource company (let’s pretend his name is Jim) regarding this change and my goals to help public companies embrace it. We started to talk about the use of our “on-going” online video solutions and online strategic methods for corporate communications. The moment we began speaking about better presentation and giving their investors (and potential investors) the ability to access information and up-to-date video interviews online, Jim interrupted me.

I wasn’t upset that I was interrupted. I wasn’t upset that he didn’t like my ideas nor shared my views on change. I was shocked at what he said:

“People don’t have time for this. They don’t have time for the internet. Investors don’t want to see and waste their time with online videos and interviews. Don’t quit your day job.”

I knew I couldn’t win that argument because Jim just seemed so stuck in the past. Yet I couldn’t help but think if there was some truth to what he said.

Driving to my next meeting, I was stopped at a red light in horrible downtown Vancouver traffic. I reached into my warm left overcoat pocket and anxiously pulled out my glitchy Blackberry Storm to do a little research. After fidgeting with the touch-screen display, I finally managed to pull up information on Jim’s company:

  • Record-breaking annual cash flow, significant new discoveries on its properties, and decent dividend payouts
  • Share value 8 months ago….$ 3.00 dollars
  • Share value today….less than $0.30 cents

No videos, no interviews, a presentation from a year and half ago, and the last updated document was uploaded back in Q1 of 2006

The TSX endured one of its worst years on record in 2008, losing 35 per cent of its value. Despite record-breaking annual cash flows, significant new discoveries on its properties, and decent dividend payouts, Jim’s company on the TSX took a 90 per cent haircut. Then it hit me:

No videos, no interviews, a presentation from a year and half ago, and the last updated document was uploaded back in Q1 of 2006

The red light had turned green now and traffic began to move. I drove to my next meeting, selfishly more confident about my goals.

Employees of public companies visit our website everyday and ask for information and interviews about the companies they work for. If a corporation’s employees are asking for this, I think it’s a pretty obvious sign that there needs to be a better way of distributing and presenting corporate information.

As a corporation, ask yourself if you are truly happy with your IR campaign, investor management and the way your company is being presented?

As an investor, are you happy with the way public companies present themselves and communicate with you? At the end of the day, these are your investments and corporations depend on you to keep it living, dynamic and vibrant.

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” John F. Kennedy

P.S. If you agree with me that corporations need to embrace change, the way President Obama has, please forward this to the leaders of public corporations. Just don’t forward it to Jim.