CEO as newscaster, talking directly to target audiences: PR-Prof

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer and CFO Ken Goldman

Do companies still need to be on the 6 o’clock news?

Two tech firms are delving further into the news business, creating an opportunity for any corporation to reach its audience.

On July 16, Yahoo! released its earnings over the Web from a news studio at company headquarters.

On July 22, Netflix’s CEO and CFO logged in for a video chat on second-quarter earnings.

In the old, old media model,  analysts and reporters gathered in a room to listen to the numbers and ask questions of corporate executives. They migrated to conference calls that, after regulators insisted, were opened to the public. Business news networks joined the game, which has now moved to the Web.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Yahoo! broadcast was well-received. Forbes was more enthusiastic, with contributor Mark Rogowsky writing, “So let’s give Yahoo! credit for livestreaming its earnings conference call. It’s new and fresh and it brought a chance to see the expressions on the faces of CEO Marissa Mayer and CFO Ken Goldman. That adds color the typical call lacks and should provide some fodder for analysts and investors in the months ahead.”

Netflix generates revenue by streaming content, so it is seems appropriate that it does the rest of its business there.

Technology is cool, but what does this mean for a company’s public relations? There are a number of benefits:

  1. Direct, unfiltered communication with investors, customers, suppliers and employees. No more talking heads getting in the way of a CEO’s message.
  2. No jockeying for air time on news networks. Earnings might be announced before or after the bell, but not when a network says it can seat the CEO in its studio.
  3. Direct interaction with a broad audience. A CNBC newscaster and a financial analyst moderated the Nextflix video chat; they prepared questions from the public.
  4. The ability to reach a younger audience that is accustomed to digesting information via the Web.

For companies interested in gaining attention and having more control over how their information is disseminated, this is an excellent opportunity. Studios can be rented and the technology to live stream is inexpensive.

Can something go wrong? Of course. Just as it can on any live, aired event, whether it be in a TV newsroom or a conference call.

What’s the next step? Talk to a public relations person who understands how to use online technology. And start practicing in front of a camera. TV isn’t as easy as it looks.

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