Tweets ahead: 10 IROs to follow on Twitter
Most IROs take a cautious approach to social media, including Twitter. But some not only tweet about results but also offer a snapshot of their lives outside the office. Here we suggest 10 IROs at listed companies to add to your follow list.
World Wrestling Entertainment
World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) IR team commands a huge social media audience. The entertaining sport fronts one of the most widely followed IR department Twitter accounts, according to a study by Q4 Web Systems, the IR website provider. Aside from sharing the latest news from the world of spandex-clad combat – including developments in merchandising and the company’s shareholding – IROs Michael Weitz and Laura Kiernan also selectively answer investors’ questions in person. Other than that, the account is run with a close consideration for Reg FD, with most tweets sending readers back to WWE’s website for more complete information.
Dr Kai Holtmann, freenet
The Twitter feed of Dr Kai Holtmann, IR manager at German telecoms firm freenet, acts as a personal reading list, tracking articles and comments he deems of interest from a mix of German and English-language sources. As he points out in his Twitter bio, many of the stories focus on sustainable business from an IR perspective. But you’ll also find articles on a wide range of IR-related topics, such as stock splits, shareholder revolts and obscure dark pools. Proving that IROs like to focus on the big picture, Holtmann includes the odd quote from renowned thinkers like Goethe and Laozi.
RJ Jones, Zillow
Real estate giant Zillow has been something of a leader when it comes to social media for IR, becoming the first company to take questions via Twitter and Facebook for its earnings call in May 2013 using #ZEarnings, so it makes sense that IRO RJ Jones is also active in the medium. Many of Jones’ tweets discuss American dream builders, a new show Zillow is partnering with NBC on, and include comments on his own home renovations – clearly a subject he’s passionate about. As well as photos, Jones posts links to Zillow press releases and articles the company has featured in, and interacts with other Twitter users.
Patrick Kiss, Deutsche EuroShop
Patrick Kiss, head of IR at shopping center investor Deutsche EuroShop and founder of Germany’s IR Club, tweets in both English and German, and has been active on the site since February 2011. Over that time, his almost 6,000 tweets on everything from dark pools to corporate access and IR conferences, as well as numerous IR-relevant retweets, have built up a significant following. Kiss’ Twitter feed is really about all things IR (and a few of Kiss’ own interests, such as running and museum visits). He regularly debates IR issues through his personal handle and posts from a huge range of sources, making the most of photos, for example to highlight his countdown to NIRI 2014 in Las Vegas.
Cole Lannum, Covidien
Cole Lannum, head of IR at US healthcare firm Covidien, describes himself on Twitter as ‘part-time pretend-to-be Fortune 500 IR dude... part-time pretend-to-be actor.’ In fact, he’s more than a little of both. As well as taking home armfuls of IR Magazine Awards over the years, Lannum was named Global Top IRO at last year’s Global IR Forum in recognition of his IR skills. On the acting side, his Twitter feed has revealed an upcoming cameo in the new crowd-funded Veronica Mars movie, alongside a photo of him with Kristen Bell. His personal handle spans both IR and acting as well as retweeting from his firm’s own @Covidien account.
Julie MacMedan, Demand Media
Flying the flag for the Los Angeles’ tech industry is Julie MacMedan, vice president of IR at Santa Monica-based Demand Media, the online content and social media firm. Like other IROs at young US tech firms, MacMedan appears very at home on Twitter. Her feed is regularly updated and includes plenty of tech news with an LA slant – a recent post highlighted the rapid growth of Silicon Beach, home to firms like Whisper and Snapchat. As an officer at LA’s NIRI chapter, MacMedan shares plenty of IR-related news with @NIRI_LA tagged on at the end, too.
Her company also makes good use of its corporate account – @demandmedia – to live-tweet earnings, delivering more than 25 updates on Q4 results day in February.
Dominic Paschel, Pandora
It’s no surprise that online music-streaming service Pandora has a formidable online presence. The firm’s vice president of corporate finance and IR, Dominic Paschel, uses his own feed to keep investors and consumers ahead of recent product and company developments, whether that be the launch of Pandora’s smartwatch application or a recent job posting. Buy-side and sell-side conferences, annual meetings and concert freebies are often live-tweeted and accompanied by a tasteful selfie or two. Paschel also takes a wider role in encouraging Pandora’s online community to involve itself with the running of the business in any way he can, from retweeting an artist’s thanks for being admitted to the platform to correcting figures about Bette Midler’s latest royalties paycheck.
Stefan Pettersson, Transcom
Among his many roles as head of group communications, Stefan Pettersson oversees the IR function at Swedish business services firm Transcom and uses Twitter to give his followers a glance at his daily goings-on. He uses the platform most often to deliver dates of annual meetings, investor conferences and the like, but also to point readers to Transcom’s appearances in the media (such as on a recent BBC TV documentary) and to answer investors’ questions. He is also a frequent Tumblr surfer, and often provides links not only to his own page on the platform, but also to interesting posts from the blogosphere.
From time to time he offers glimpses into his Swedish life, commenting on subjects as far-reaching as Norske Talenter’s latest teenage music sensation to the unsatisfactory bus service in his native Stockholm.
David Walker, Hays
Like many other public firms, UK recruitment firm Hays is currently weighing up the usefulness of Twitter as an IR tool. As part of that process, David Walker, head of IR and corporate development, maintains an IR-specific account that flags up corporate releases, investor events and interviews with senior management, as well as news stories on the company or sector deemed suitable for a retweet. Posts around last November’s investor day included information on speakers and the number of attendees, plus a photo of the stage. In a story similar to that of other IROs testing out the channel, Walker says there is a noticeable lack of investors and analysts among the current batch of followers, with a bias towards colleagues and industry peers.
Andrea Wentscher, BASF
Wake up and smell BASF everywhere: this was the message conveyed by the firm’s IR team when it recently posted a thread of tutorials on the German chemical giant’s star products. Andrea Wentscher, the IR manager at the Twitter helm, added tweets throughout the day from BASF’s main corporate account – @BASF – highlighting how the firm’s products are omnipresent in consumers’ everyday lives, from ‘fully compostable coffee capsules’ to ‘second skin-like textiles for sports gear’. On the IR team’s dedicated Twitter handle, Wentscher’s activities include live tweeting during results, inviting people to join Q&As, sharing podcasts of industry experts and linking to videos of chief executive Kurt Bock, which all contribute to giving BASF’s investor outreach an instructive and interactive feel.