If you can’t say it on the ASX, can you say it at all?

Cannings Purple 26 Mar 2019
3 mins

With the population of Facebook now bigger than that of China and video content set to make up 80 percent of all internet traffic by next year, the opportunities and obstacles that social media presents to business led an expert panel discussion at Cannings Purple’s first ever Brisbane event. 

A crowd of 50 clients and associates joined a panel at the offices of HopgoodGanim Lawyers to discuss the advantages of good social media practices for business and the damage that can be caused in failing to hit the mark.

The event had a strong focus on ASX regulations, with the exchange represented by Manager of Listing Compliance Adrian Smythe and Principal Advisor of Listing Compliance Ben Secrett.

Mr Secrett set the stage for the audience-participation format with his simple but direct warning: “If you haven’t said it on the ASX platform, don’t say it in social media.”

He provided examples of how some public entities using social media (sometimes inadvertently) ran afoul of strict ASX guidelines on disclosure.

With a strong contingent of mining executives in attendance, he highlighted issues specific to the sector, such as correctly releasing updated drill results and project advancement notices in the age of digital self-publishing.

“We often see companies or individuals from companies disclosing information on platforms other than the ASX – for instance enthusiastic geologists taking photos of drill core and posting it on their own or company profiles,” Mr Secrett said.

“While it may seem innocent enough to the poster, it can in fact, be breaching a whole list of disclosure rules.”

HopgoodGanim partner Michele Muscillo stressed the need for public and private entities to establish precise social media guidelines for employees, something he identified as lacking in some organisations.

Mr Muscillo, who has extensive M&A experience and also advises heavily in tech and media, acknowledged the feverish pace at which social media was moving – all the more reason to keep tight reins on corporate policies.

ASX Compliance Manager Adrian Smythe provided valuable insight into how the ASX views disclosure, treating social media the same as traditional print and broadcast media.

He also discussed the fine line between promotion and keeping the market informed, noting recent instances of peer comparison tables being retracted or amended following ASX intervention.

Removal by the ASX of companies’ ability to promote research coverage via the exchange’s platform was also noted.  Such intelligence holds particular interest in the public-listings’ space given many companies use the ASX feed to disseminate information rather than their own websites.

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Cannings Purple’s Director of Design and Digital, Jamie Wilkinson, walked attendees through the fascinating journey that has become social media, reaching as far back as early French Cafe Society when patrons lamented the advent of a new communications technology – newspapers!

He said having a living, breathing social media policy was essential for any company.

“It’s not just about having a social media policy and telling new employees what they can and can’t post on Facebook,” he said.

“It’s about making sure that the culture is passed through the entire organisation, and onto any third parties such as contractors.”

Cannings Purple comprises a team of 40 people, currently headquartered in Perth but with a fast-growing Brisbane office headed up by Queensland State Director, Peta Baldwin.

The agency has market-leading expertise in government relations, investor relations, corporate affairs and design and digital.

Peta, who hails from North Queensland, spent 17 years working offshore in professional stints in both South Africa and the UK before returning to Brisbane 18 months ago. 

She has more than 20 years’ experience in investor relations and has worked in-house for Mount Isa Mines, Alcoa and most recently AngloGold Ashanti. Her specialist skills include crisis and strategic communications.

Jim Regan is Cannings Purple’s Associate Contributor and a vastly experienced finance journalist, who spent more than 20 years working for Thomson Reuters news.

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