Purpose – The aim of this paper is to contribute to the understanding of how the internet interacts with businesses and markets. The authors aims to focus on the internet press releases of annual results to illustrate how corporate communication is used and managed strategically online. Design/methodology/approach – The authors describe the increasing importance of the internet for communicating firms' performance to investors, financial media and the stock market, then identify and discuss a number of techniques that might be used to potentially manipulate the online presentation of financial results. Thus the authors conducted a content analysis of the internet press releases in two consecutive years (2008 and 2009) by a wide range of companies listed in the IBEX 35 share index. Findings – This paper provides in‐depth insights into content analysis techniques by providing examples of how potentially misleading disclosure practices are included in press releases. Moreover the paper investigates the use of seven potentially misleading disclosure practices appearing in press releases that optimise the way in which company results are presented. Practical implications – Regulators may consider the normalisation of the content of internet press releases to avoid or reduce opportunistic disclosure practices. Moreover, investors should be aware of the use of these practices to reduce the misleading effect when processing corporate information. Originality/value – This pioneering study analyses and provides evidence of potentially misleading internet‐based disclosure strategies. Furthermore the paper proposes a set of measures for corporate information presentation.
Online Information Review – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 2, 2013
Keywords: Internet; Financial reporting; Corporate communications; Corporate financial communication; Disclosure; Internet press releases; Content analysis
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