Investor Relations Officers – and their support network – have been deep into content marketing long before content marketers were into content marketing. The lessons that IR can share with marketing are 1.) truth, 2.) transparency and 3.) building content credibility.
That sounds pedestrian, however, the ramifications for a public company and its’ influencers’ content exaggeration has serious consequences via the SEC.
Washington D.C., Sept. 6, 2016 —
The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged the CEO of a sexual health products retailer and a paid promoter with orchestrating fraudulent promotional campaigns to tout the company’s stock.
The SEC alleges that Scott S. Fraser, who also was a major shareholder in Las Vegas-based Empowered Products Inc., separately ran a newsletter publishing business and hired Nathan Yeung to secretly help him promote Empowered Products through online newsletter articles purportedly authored by independent writers. But Fraser and Yeung actually authored, authorized, and distributed the rosy articles about Empowered Products themselves, working under such pseudonyms as “Charlie Buck” and then hiring other promoters to disseminate the promotions to their respective subscriber lists in exchange for fees. Meanwhile the promotions failed to disclose that Empowered Products and Fraser approved and paid for the advertisements.
Washington D.C., Sept. 16, 2016 —
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced fraud charges in a scheme involving illegal stock sales and false financial filings of a company that makes containers for growing marijuana.
An SEC investigation found that William J. Sears orchestrated the scheme along with his brother-in-law Scott M. Dittman, who was the CEO and sole officer at Fusion Pharm Inc. while Sears concealed his control from behind the scenes. Sears and Dittman hired Cliffe R. Bodden to help them create fraudulent corporate documents that enabled Fusion Pharm to issue common stock to three other companies controlled by Sears, who then illegally sold the restricted stock into the market for $12.2 million in profits while hiding the companies’ connection to Fusion Pharm.
Washington D.C., Sept. 13, 2016 —
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that a self-proclaimed “stock trading whiz kid” and his stock newsletter company in Los Angeles have agreed to pay nearly $1.5 million to settle charges that they defrauded subscribers through false statements and misrepresentations.
You get the point. Per the SEC, painting a “rosy” picture is punishable.
Fraudulent “advertising” has always been with us – however in the hot buzz of content marketing, it’s detrimental. Exaggerative content marketing of your services may not have the legal gravitas of equity markets’ pump-n-dump, however its important to recognize the ease of fact-checking by prospects is instantaneous. Your content credibility is instantaneous. Building trust (to drive an audience further along the buyer’s journey) is instantaneous.
- The current presidential environment – fact checking is a real-time action during live speeches.
- My promotion of Vintage as a top three EDGAR provider. I use an undisputed source for measurement. The SEC.
Most all of content marketing discussions focus on the creation of quality work ie whitepapers, blogs, infographics, webinars. IR departments, unlike marketing, don’t have the same freedom to “create” content – so content credibility is paramount. The mantra we express to clients…
“Shareholder communications builds shareholder confidence. Shareholder confidence builds shareholder value.”
…is their investor’s/buyer’s journey. Marketing certainly has better tracking mechanisms for their buyers, but the end product is the same. (Substitute the word “customer” in staed of “shareholder” and you’ll understand what I mean.)