Although everyone knows you shouldn't judge a company by its Web site, the growth of Internet research and investing is raising the bar for online information. In response, companies are increasingly jazzing up their investor sites, and more often outsourcing some of the sophisticated new features. Investor relations (IR) professionals say letting experts handle certain Web investor functions frees them to focus on shareholders rather than on technology.
"If you can't put together a content-rich and, in some cases, even a provocative, Web site, you may not be considered for an investment," says Michael Gallant, IR man-ager at EMC Corp., a data storage system maker in Hopkinton, Mass. Gallant says he outsources about 30 percent of EMC's Web-site functions, including running stock price quotes and live conference calls that allow investors to listen on the phone while watching a PowerPoint presentation, which are also archived on the Web site. "If there's a really good tool or technology outside the company, we're not afraid to outsource it," says Gallant.
Even Internet and computer companies are outsourcing IR Web-site functions, says Rob Adler, president and COO of CCBN.com, an investor communications company in Boston. "Companies have found it's easy to put something up [on the Internet], but keeping up with emerging technology is a challenge," says Adler. "We're able to do it cheaper, and we can do it much better."