Think Before Sending

Time and again people underestimate the power of the Internet.  Social media and the pervasive use of video make it very easy for online content to spread like wildfire.
E-mail and texting also ring true to this phenomenon.  Just this week Marilyn Davenport, a local Orange County, California GOP official, became national news as she sent a blast e-mail depicting President Obama and his parents as apes using the tagline, “Now you know why — No birth certificate!”
Earlier this year, Representative Chris Lee (R-Buffalo) also made national headlines when he texted a shirtless photo of himself to a woman he met on Craigslist.  The married, two-term congressman abruptly resigned after the story broke on the Gawker website.
It’s understandable for anyone to forget how easily a video, e-mail or text can spread across the online universe.  Billions of e-mails are sent daily across the globe.  Not all are professional and many carry unsavory content or crude jokes aimed at generating a laugh or giggle.
The general rule for e-mailing is simple.  Think first, but think big.  Before sending, imagine the e-mail is going to 1,000 people or being read on the evening news.  While this may sound extreme, creating some kind of filter is good policy for preventing a potential disastrous snafu.
While this may not be relevant for the average person, it is an important rule to follow for corporate executives and public officials.  These high profile figures always are under scrutiny from constituencies and media.  As ‘gotcha journalism’ and the 24/7 news cycle become mainstay in the new media landscape, press are on the lookout for sensational story lines.  A racially charged e-mail from a public official no doubt is fodder for a media firestorm.
Putting the cat back in the proverbial bag is close to impossible once the news is out.  The next phase is damage control.  Statements and press conferences can help clear the air or possibly insight more coverage.  Party officials are still calling for Davenport’s ouster even after her press conference, where she offered a quasi-apology to the president saying it was unwise to send the e-mail.  Davenport is not resigning, yet.
The purpose of social media ironically is for users to be able to share and engage with each other in a robust platform.  The lesson here is that at any time, an innocent e-mail, text or video can become a live wire, so just think before sending.


George Medici,

SEC Shut-Down: Impact on Capital Markets Transactions and Public Companies

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The Securities and Exchange Commission announced yesterday that its operations will be sharply curtailed in the event of a shut-down (at 12:01 a.m. EDT Saturday April 9, 2011) caused by the current budget impasse.
Latham & Watkins, along with several other law firms, has prepared questions and answers to key issues related to the shut-down for capital markets transactions and public companies. Click here to view the Q&A.



Taking Stock of Intonation

Hey friends of PondelWilkinson, let’s keep this one to ourselves: Voice analysis may become the next tool, and a good one, for predicting stock prices. Two professors from Duke think they have proved it.
They learned that if you listen very carefully to subtle emotional cues in a CEO’s or CFO’s voice on a conference call, you may be able to forecast, not an EPS estimate, but a company’s future stock performance.
Using a digital voice emotion software program made by privately held Israeli company Nemesysco Ltd., Profs William Mayew and Mohan Venkatachalam (yes, I checked the spelling twice) analyzed voice inflections from 1,647 typical quarterly conference calls hosted by 671 public companies.
The study monitored subtle and not so subtle vocal cues that showed either positive or negative emotional states.  They then checked the companies’ performances to learn whether earnings, stock prices or analysts’ recommendations corresponded with the cues over the next six months.
Voila!  When the execs were excited, the stocks responded favorably and earnings were on the rise. But the more negative the intonations, the lower the stock prices went. According to the study, which was published in the Journal of Finance, performance was most pronounced in either direction when there were questions posed on calls, making it easier for the software program to detect the cues.
Where can you buy the software package and how much does it cost? Sorry, you’ll have to research that for yourself.  If it’s not too expensive, please let me know.
I guess we just have to hope that the executives on those conference calls really are feeling what they are saying, lest we must heed the words of American poet William Carlos Williams, who wrote: “It’s not what you say that matters, but the manner in which you say it.”


Roger Pondel,