Finding An Angel

November 28, 2012

The economy is weak, capital is scarce and Congress is considering a new tax on angel investing. Money is difficult to come by for almost any business.

Yet entrepreneurs seeking angel funding often believe in their business so strongly, they don't understand why investors aren't lining up to give them money.

PR Peeve #2: Press Releases

November 29, 2012

Clients often think that all public relations agencies do is send out press releases.  PR agencies reinforce this notion, because press releases are easy to prepare and agencies can charge lots of money for them.

While press releases should be used to announce breaking news, they are typically the least effective method of publicizing your company.  Unless a press release has news value, no one will run it and few will read it.  A press release is also a great way to ensure that top-tier media will not run your news.  The Wall Street Journal and other top media want exclusivity.  If you send out a press release, it tells them that every other financial media outlet will be getting the same news.

While press releases should be used for breaking news, in most cases they should not be the main focus of your public relations program.

A summary of PR Peeves initially appeared in an article we wrote for the Worcester Business Journal.

Pro #2: Lower Risk, Higher Reward, Part 2

November 30, 2012

A couple of ex-Fidelity execs created a tool called FundReveal that rates mutual funds based on risk, reward and persistence of performance.  One distinguishing feature of the tool is that the entire universe of mutual funds is shown on a graph, with risk as one axis and return as the other.  Mutual funds in the lower right quadrant have higher risk and lower return than the S&P 500.  Those in the upper left quadrant have lower risk and higher return than the S&P 500.

FundReveal (a former client) has been featured in Investment News, The Mutual Fund Observer, MarketWatch and elsewhere.  Unlike most other rating services, it provides an objective analysis of all mutual funds.

PR Peeve #3: LET’S CAPITALIZE EVERYTHING!!! The Case Against Upper Case.

December 2, 2012

Too many people are screaming to be heard. In an effort to stand out, they Capitalize Words that should be lower case. Or, worse still, they use ALL CAPS! (the exclamation point is also common, and some even use multiple exclamation points.

The worst offenders though are the associations that try to make certain terms special by not only capitalizing every letter, but registering the name as a trademark. For example, a real estate agent affiliated with the National Real Estate Association is called REALTOR®. This, no doubt, enables the association to charge higher dues than if its members were called realtors.

Con #4: Snow JOBS

December 4, 2012

In a rare example of bipartisanship and common sense, the U.S. Congress last April approved the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (aka JOBS). 

In the real world, a “jumpstart” would require quick action.  Congress and federal regulators, unfortunately, don’t act in the real world.  And so we have a key provision of JOBS – an end to the “general solicitation ban” – in limbo.

Con #3: SNAP Judgment

December 3, 2012

Beware of movements with “Justice” in their title.  The cost of food is skyrocketing for many reasons, including Fed policy and the growth of the ethanol industry.  Yet the Food Justice Movement wants to, among other things, create “sustainable” food production (i.e., no fertilizer, no use of fossil fuels), provide better pay for those in the industry and end poverty as we know it.

Con #1: The Sun MAY Come Up Tomorrow

November 21, 2012

The Great Recession, the weak recovery, 9/11, the weak state of print media, and other economic and world events have had an impact on my business, as they have on other businesses.

But the greatest threat to my business is government regulation – even though my industry is virtually unregulated.

Con #2: The Miranda Rights of Financial Services – Compliance, Part 2

November 26, 2012

“Past performance is no guarantee of future results.”  Well, no kidding.  If you don’t know that, should you be investing in equities?

Those are only eight of the 507 words of compliance language I was required to include in a recent press release.  It’s not the compliance officer’s fault.  Leaving those words out would be an invitation to a lawsuit.

Pro #3: Thank the Rich

December 6, 2012

According to the National Taxpayers Union, the wealthiest 1% of U.S. taxpayers pays 36.73% of all income taxes, while the bottom 50% pays 2.25%.  In other words, 1% of the country shoulders a tax burden that’s more than 16 times as large as the taxes collected from half of the country.

Con #5: What Emergency?

December 10, 2012

Anyone wondering why our healthcare costs are so high should spend a day in a hospital emergency room.

I went in last Friday as a participant, but ended up instead being an observer.  I left after a four-and-a-half hour wait – without being seen by a doctor.  What appeared to be a medical emergency led my physician’s nurse to send me to the emergency room.  Fortunately, my symptoms quickly abated and by the time my vital signs were checked, they were normal.