Sunday, November 27, 2005

Idea: Don't kill content for the Web

Have you noticed how some companies treat their Web-based investor relations events like big game? Their webinars are these beautiful, living things that capitalize on many of the promises of the Internet. Then, afterward, they take that presentation, kill it, gut it, mount it onto a PDF and stick it on some back-of-the-site real estate on their investor relations website where it stares out lifelessly like a trophy mountain goat on the CEO’s den wall. If you miss the event, you get to peruse the PowerPoint slides in Adobe Acrobat.

Could it be done better? Let us count the ways:

1) Someone hit the record button. Turn the resulting file into a low-bandwidth MP3 file. Have someone read the Safe Harbor statement at the beginning and end. Create a simple XML file to turn it into an RSS file and serve it up to journalists on their terms.

2) Do No. 1 above and then put the PowerPoint slides into a PDF file. Place a little sound in the sound file whenever you want the listener to go to the next slide.

3) Do Nos. 1 and 2 above but include links in the PDF to short video files where the chairman provides a bit of additional commentary on the slide – be sure to put the safe harbor information on the screen for a few seconds before the executive starts speaking to satisfy the corporate counsel.

4) Assume that all of the above are too complicated. After the event, have the CFO go through the slides, recording a very short audio commentary for each. E-mail it to the journalists you expect to make use of the PDF-based slide presentation.

As a former journalist, I can tell you that we don’t appreciate having to make ourselves available when the company decides to make its presentation, not with plenty of deadlines already imposed on us by our editors. Of course, the alternatives – having to listen to a recording without the option of asking questions or staring at the slides afterward – are not too appealing either. The companies that do a better job of using available technologies to cater to the journalists that cover them will get better (more accurate, insightful and complete) coverage than those that do not.