Monday, January 14, 2013

A Great IR Opportunity for Small-Cap CEOs

Every night, Jim Cramer interviews public company CEOs for his popular CNBC TV program Mad Money. These short segments are remarkably substantive and consistently actionable.

But for the most part, the CEOs interviewed run large-cap public companies.

This leaves a substantial segment of the public company universe largely unrepresented. Rarely does a small-cap CEO make an appearance on Mad Money.

And while Mad Money TV viewers are more likely to tune-in to interviews with CEOs of well-known companies, they miss out on hearing from the thousands of small-cap companies that could one day become the next mid-cap or large-cap (and in the process make viewers lots of “mad money”).

So why isn’t there a Mad Money equivalent that focuses on small-caps?

While the economics of such a TV program would likely prove unworkable, the same is not necessarily the case for a similar program on the web.

In fact, in the current social media era, it’s easy to imagine an investment website that hosts interviews with small-cap CEOs and draws questions from its sophisticated investor community (think: TheStreet, Motley Fool, StockTwits etc).

Why would small-cap CEOs make themselves available for potentially raucous crowdsourced interviews online?


Small-cap CEOs have increasingly fewer opportunities to pitch their stories to investors, and the explosion of financial content on the web has made attracting attention ever more challenging.

Crowd-sourced CEO interviews on high-trafficked investment websites would expose small-cap companies to sophisticated and deep-pocketed audiences of institutional and retail investors online.

No longer would small-caps be limited to quarterly earnings calls and periodic investor conferences to attract attention. Instead, they would have platforms to pitch their stories, address concerns, and gauge investor sentiment toward their companies and stocks.

At the same time, investors would have the opportunity to question executives of small companies that are largely under the radar, have limited if any sell-side coverage and yet are successfully executing on growth plans that will soon be reflected in higher stock prices.

As for concerns that crowd-sourced CEO interviews would pose fair-disclosure risks, expect those to be limited.

Small-cap CEOs have the ability to respond to online questions during non-market hours and file 8Ks with the SEC immediately thereafter. They could even take disclosure a step further by issuing a press release prior to the interview announcing the upcoming event.

Along with limited disclosure risk, I’d argue that the web is an even safer platform for public company CEOs than Cramer’s TV program. Unlike Mad Money, the web affords CEOs both the flexibility to choose which questions to respond to and the time to review responses before posting them.


While crowd-sourced CEO interviews have been done before with great success I haven’t see any in quite awhile.

And yet much to my surprise, many small-caps continue to spend big bucks spreading their message on second-rate investor sites and at investor conferences whose ROI is difficult to measure.

To get a better bang for their IR buck, small-caps would be better-served sponsoring crowd-sourced CEO interviews on high-trafficked investment sites frequented by sophisticated investors.

If you have any doubts, see my own experience here and IR Web Report’s analysis here ("Why blog network’s “open CEO interviews” are a hit").

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