November 2, 2007

Three cheers for Dell Inc.’s new IR blog

YOU know it’s a real investor relations department blog when the first thing that greets you is a long disclaimer!

But what the heck, it’s the first* — and it’s about time someone in the reluctant investor relations community had the gumption to start talking to their shareholders openly on the Web.
Dell Shares, the new investor relations blog from Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL), launched today — Thursday November 1, 2007 — about 8 years after the first modern blogs made their appearance on the Web.

Dell Shares is the first blog by an investor relations department of a public company.
True to form in the IR field, where legal constraints are both little understood and ever present, the blog is protected by a click-thru disclaimer that people must acknowledge before they can access the posts. How this will work when posts are distributed via RSS and aggregated on external sites beats me, but lets not quibble on such a big day.

As Lynn A. Tyson, Dell’s VP of Investor Relations, says in her inaugural post, this is new territory for investor relations departments. And like any good IRO she is also sure to lower investors’ expectations for how actively Dell’s investor-facing staff will be blogging and responding.

Sometimes, however, we may be quiet, as there are periods of the quarter and various topics we can’t talk about, such as forward looking statements or non-publicly disclosed information (see RegFD). We hope you will understand some of the constraints and legal obligations that may, from time to time, limit our commentary. Also, have a little patience with us, because some of these limitations may also slow us down as we learn and sort our way through this new field.
Tyson, who is a member of the board of the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI), says investors can “expect timely posts from the IR team (and sometimes company executives) on business performance and strategy.”

Investors will be able to post comments and questions, to which IR staff will respond where appropriate in a timely manner, she says.

In a 23-minute podcast interview for the The Hobson & Holtz Report, Tyson says her department faced few internal hurdles in getting the blog going.
“The ability for an investor relations organization to execute this and do it well quite frankly is predicated on how well they do their jobs every day. And if there’s confidence in their ability to exercise sound situational judgment over the phone or over emails or in one-on-one meetings with investors or group meetings with investors or drafting press releases, then there should be that same level of confidence by the company in their ability to have a dialog over the Internet,” she says in the interview.

She quickly adds that this is a good argument for other IR departments to make to their legal counsel and executives when seeking permission for their own investor relations blogs.
* We watch this space closely, so we are comfortable declaring Dell Shares the first real English-language blog by an investor relations department of a public company.

Hat tip to Neville Hobson

By Dominic Jones, IR Web Report

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