Monday, November 21, 2011

Toni Vallen Also Loves Cocker Spaniels

Toni Vallen found these various pics from dog blogs

"China opens for Western companies?" Toni Vallen

It has been spoken about this for a long time, but not much has happened on the ground. It seems now, however, that the framework and legal regulation for western companies being listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange are in place. As soon as the market conditions are improving it could therefore be implemented quickly. What remains to be seen is how soon the current market situation improves!

As a foreigner you could not expect to be investing as China capital controls ban foreign investors from trading in China’s markets. This means that that the shares only can be traded by people living in China. For large companies that also are listed at one or more western stock exchanges a listing in China could be a very useful way of getting equity in the future as well as raising their profile in China.

For smaller companies it is probably a longer way to go. A number of Chinese companies have been listed at London Stock Exchange AIM market. But it is not likely that a stream of smaller western companies will go to China any time soon. Particularly for smaller companies with links to China it could be of interest with a listing there.

Toni Vallen.

Toni Vallen is the owner and director of Seton Services, a London based investor relations firm.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Is Your Public Relations Investment Paying Off?

Is Your Public Relations Investment Paying Off?
Five steps to help hit the PR bullseye.
 Related Resources
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by Robert A. KellyBob Kelly

You'll never know in the end that your PR investment was worthwhile unless you set the right kind of goal at the beginning -- a goal against which progress can be measured, and a goal that flows directly from public relations strategies and tactics like those discussed below.

In my opinion, you must keep your eye on the end-game because the reason we do public relations in the first place is to change the behaviors of certain groups of people important to the success of our organization.

Another way of saying that? What we REALLY care about is modifying the behavior of those we wish to influence.
Ask yourself this question: do we employ public relations for the sheer pleasure of writing news releases, running special events, doing surveys or booking speeches? Some folks may actually think so, but I believe the answer to that question is no. We employ public relations so that, at the end of the day, somebody's behavior gets modified.

  • you may wish to influence people to begin thinking more positively about your organization, thus strengthening its reputation.

  • or encourage them to begin buying your soft drink brand by communicating its great taste and refreshing flavor.

  • it could be as simple as communicating a company's strengths to a target audience leading them to invest in the company's shares.

  • or even providing environmental activists with the facts about the company's full compliance with Federal regulations, in the hope they will bring their plant-site demonstrations to an end.  

But remember: until you have a solid indication that target behaviors have, in fact, changed in ways that meet your primary behavior modification goal, you DON'T know if your investment has paid off.

So, let's look at ways to increase one's comfort level about that public relations investment. Here are five steps, that can help you hit the public relations bullseye -- desired behavior modification -- on your next public relations venture.

Step 1   Accept the Fact That People Act on their Perception of the Facts 

Many behavioral experts agree that people really do act on THEIR perception of the facts, and that how they react to those facts actually does affect their behaviors. It follows that individual understanding of those facts must be continually informed if those behaviors are to help achieve the organization's goal and objectives.

A simple, but effective illustration of this dynamic at work, is the investor considering the purchase of company shares. With the facts available to him or her at the moment, he/she forms a perception of the company. Unsupported though they may be, should those facts cast doubt on the company's
future, it's safe to say that the investor's negative perception of the company will lead to a certain behavior, namely, no shares are purchased.

Public relations counsel, alerted to the negative perception about the company through continuous media monitoring, opinion sampling and thoughtleader contact, moves rapidly to communicate accurate sales and financial data to the investment community. In due course, this leads to perception and behavioral changes on the part of many investors -- namely, towards a decision to buy the company's shares.

Step 2   Create, Change or Reinforce Opinion 

Here, after assessing opinion among your target audiences through media monitoring, opinion sampling and thought-leader contact, you must decide whether you will create or change or reinforce public opinion within each target audience. Choosing the correct mode - 1) reinforcing existing opinion, 2) creating new opinion from scratch or 3) changing current and possibly long-held views -- is obviously central to your message preparation strategy and its copy approach. Each must be written to carefully reflect the timing of the action being taken.

Step 3   Reach, Persuade and Move-to-Action 

Now, you must reach, persuade and move-to-action those people whose behaviors will affect your organization. That includes, among others, a variety of stakeholders including customers, employees, prospects, retirees, media, legislators and regulators, and both financial and plant communities.

Reaching these target groups means applying the most effective communications tools available to you. Among others, these will include such tactics as media relations and publicity-generating news conferences and press releases, newsletters and e-mails, high-profile speeches, charitable contributions, investor relations and informal opinion surveys.

Special events will be high on the action list: newsworthy events like trade shows, open houses, awards ceremonies, contests, VIP receptions, financial roadshows, and even media-attracting stunts. On the marketing side, you will want to target your sales-oriented communications to help build brand franchise, win consumer acceptance and gain competitive advantage.

Persuading these important groups of stakeholders to your way of thinking depends heavily on the message you prepare for each target audience. You must understand and identify what is really at issue at the moment; impart a sense of credibility to your comments; perform regular assessments of how opinion is currently running among that group, constantly adjusting your message; as well as highlighting those key issue points most likely to engage their attention and involvement; and finally, identify and build into your messages pre-tested, action-producing incentives for individuals to take the actions you desire.

Moving your target group to action, hopefully with a mix of activity such as the above, can be accelerated, even amplified by careful selection of the media to reach your target audience. This applies whether, among others, it's print or broadcast media, key podium presentations or a series of top level personal contacts, and they all must communicate clearly and directly to your target audiences.

Of equal importance to the success of your program will be the selection and perceived credibility of the actual spokespeople who will deliver your messages. They must have stature in their industries, and speak with authority, personal confidence and conviction if meaningful media coverage is to be achieved.

Step 4   Gain and Hold Understanding and Acceptance

By this time, your action program should begin to gain and hold the kind of public understanding and acceptance that leads to the desired shift in public behavior.

Signs that your messages are turning some opinion in your direction should appear. A chance comment in a business meeting, a popular columnist's observations, e-mails from interested parties or co-worker alerts that this political figure or that local celebrity made public references to your topic, should begin to build. Many of these indicators, each reflecting the state of individual perception, will gradually begin to reflect the modified behaviors you have in mind.

Step 5   Modify the Behavior, Achieve your Goal

When the changes in behaviors become truly apparent through media reports, thought-leader comment, employee and community chatter and other feedback, at the same time clearly meeting your original behavior modification goal, your public relations program can be deemed a success.

PR consultant Bob Kelly was director of PR for Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR, Newport News
Shipbuilding; director of communications, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press secretary, The White House.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

China-US Investment Relations

Bilateral investment discussions between the US and China can be a reality as the economic relationship and the trade between the two countries is intensifying, according to Elliot Feldman, leader of Baker Hostetler's International Trade practice.

BERNAMA - Vietnam To Boost Political, Investment Relations With Partners In Apec 2011

November 10, 2011 08:58 AM

Vietnam To Boost Political, Investment Relations With Partners In Apec 2011

By: Ramjit-->

HANOI, Nov 10 (Bernama) -- State President Truong Tan Sang, who will attend the 19th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Meeting in Hawaii, said that the meeting will offer an opportunity for Vietnam to boost political, trade and investment relations with regional partners.

Vietnam's participation will also help to deepen ties between Vietnam and other APEC members through the exchange of information on the socio-economic situation, and on the guidelines and policies of the nation, according to Vietnam news agency (VNA) citing Sang as saying.

The president will attend the APEC meeting from Nov 10 to 13 at the invitation of U.S. President Barack Obama.

Vietnam' participation in this APEC meeting reflects the 11th Party Congress foreign policy of proactively promoting intensive and comprehensive international integration and continuing to play an important role in Asia-Pacific regional cooperation frameworks.

This will also be a chance for Vietnam to take advantage of suitable APEC programmes in an effort to stabilise the macro-economy, serve socio-economic development goals and renew the growth model.

This year, APEC themed "Strengthening regional economic connectivity and expanding trade", will focus on three areas of priority, namely regional economic connectivity and trade expansion; green growth and advancing regulatory cooperation and convergence.

At the Ministeral and Senior Official meetings Cooperation, the group will focus on the technical economy and human security discussion.

Established in 1989 and with 18 summits held, APEC is now the largest economic trade cooperation group in the Asia-Pacific region. It includes 21 member economies and accounts for 40 percent of the global population, 55 percent of GDP and 44 percent of world trade.

APEC is actively speeding up efforts to strengthen the efficiency of cooperation and improve its role in the world economic restructuring process, especially in the face of the emergence of other regional mechanisms such as the East Asia Summit (EAS), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement and G20.

Through joining APEC, Vietnam has gained better access to capital sources, modern technology and management experience through investment and trade activities with major economies like the US, Japan, China and Canada.


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Friday, November 4, 2011

Investor Relations – Opportunities For Micro And Mid Cap Companies Using Internet

by Toni Vallen

Getting publicity and attention have always been the challenge for micro and mid cap companies. The most common ways have been through arranged investor presentations and through the press. For the larger companies in this segment some analyst coverage has also been available.

The Internet has opened up a whole range of new possibilities for marketing the company to investors. Much of this is not utilized by the companies and their investor relations advisors. The most common way has been to add pages to the company’s website particularly related to financial, corporate governance and share price information. Even when it comes to using the company’s website, the opportunity has been around for years, there is still a large potential for improvement and benefits in communication with the investor community.

Apart from the most obvious, such as making sure the basics, such as financial reports, shareholder structure, share price developments, board and management info, are available, there is more information that can be made easily available for investors. Examples include financial ratios that are easily imported into an excel sheet. Others are: relevant company documents (non-confidential info) and links to all historic company documents that are filed. Although this info can be found elsewhere, it is about simplifying the investor access to the information and making their evaluations of the company easier.

Moving from a more passive IR, by using the company’s website, to a more active IR, the Internet offers a range of tools that are used today in Internet marketing. Investor Relations can be lifted to a whole new level by using modern Internet marketing tools. These tools include more traditional methods such as email campaigns and webcasts/webinars, but also using social media, internet advertisements and Search Engine Optimisation techniques to increase attention on the company.

Creating buzz about a company through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter opens up a potential for active online communication with potential and present investors. To be able to use these media channels effectively, one must add on monitoring capability to be able to survey and respond efficiently to the discussions about the company on these platforms.

Another important area of investor relations on the Internet is to make sure that information on the company is ranked high up on the search engine results when a potential investor is searching the Internet. Of great importance is that information published about the company on the Internet displays relevant keywords related to the company’s business.  In this way, for someone who searches for smaller growth companies in a specific industry, the company in question would be displayed among the top search results. 

As in the real world, where it is important that the company is seen in the press, it is important that on the internet, the company is seen on a number of websites. The company needs to do press releases that also appear on newspapers web editions as well as on specialised investor and industry information websites. These articles need to be optimised with respect to key words so that the search engines rank the articles high up on the search pages.

To be able to maximize the possibilities offered by the Internet, and to maximize the effect of IR for small companies, an IR company has to draw on expertise from a whole range of areas.  An IR company that can do that effectively can offer unique possibilities for small companies in getting attention from a wide investor audience in capital raising as well as in ensuring that the share price reflects available information about the company. 

Toni Vallen                                                                                                                

The author, Toni Vallen is managing director and owner of the Investor relations company Seton Services where she has advised micro and small cap companies on investor relations for more than 20 years.