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Crowdsourcing IR

There’s been a lot of media chatter of late about crowdsourcing, the act of outsourcing a particular task to a group of individuals, community, or crowd.   For example, in Beth Novek’s book, Wiki Government, she discusses her experience creating “Peer-to-Patent,” a crowdsourcing project that attempts to streamline the patent review process by outsourcing it to a crowd of experts.  This whole notion of crowdsourcing got me thinking whether investor relations could have some sort of crowdsourcing component.
 
The crowds, in this case, are shareholders.  The task:  to write a financial news release based on a company’s quarterly results.  Assuming shareholders have ideas about what they’d like to hear when a company reports its earnings or lack thereof, I’m curious what would happen if a company simply released a balance sheet and income statement to shareholders and then asked the group to assemble a financial news release.
 
Think of it the same way people create Wikipedia entries.  All of these supposed experts or shareholders would distill a document that (hopefully) reflects the most relevant information about a company’s financial condition.  But why stop at shareholders? How about getting a bunch of analysts to crowdsource a research note?
 
Perception studies are perhaps the closest IROs get to crowdsourcing.  Maybe instead of relying on our own ability to gauge what questions to ask and what information would be valuable to a management team, we should also come up with a method to crowdsource. Ultimately, it could foster more transparency and collaboration among public companies and their constituents.

 

— Evan Pondel, epondel@pondel.com