“Sometimes the most obvious question is the question. In Enron’s case: How do you make money?” — Fortune Magazine Reporter Bethany McLean.

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The simple answer was Enron wasn’t making money; the company was losing money hand-over-fist.

Enron was hiding these massive losses from regulators, investors, suppliers, partners and most of all, its own massively investing-in-Enron-stock employees.

Still investors poured billions into Enron simply because the stock was going up big time. The majority had no idea about how Enron made money in its energy, bandwidth and weather (go figure) trading schemes and didn’t seem to care because the stock was skyrocketing. As Martha would say: “It (was) a good thing.” Yep, a good thing until the house of cards came tumbling down in a 2001 bankruptcy filing, crashing and burning.

What was that about how does a company makes money?

As we head into the next round of hysteria as yet a third social media provider goes IPO (Initial Public Offering), this one, Twitter, under the ticker, TWTR, one needs to contemplate Bethany McLean’s most obvious of all questions.

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How does Twitter make money?

How does LinkedIn make money?

How does Facebook make money?

How does J.C. Penne’ make money? Hint: It doesn’t.

This simple question needs to be posed to and answered by all publicly traded companies, whether they play in the new economy or the old economy.

The need to quickly, credibility and confidently answer this question, preferably in a brief elevator pitch, solidifies the need for well-trained and highly skilled corporate public relations, investor relations, crisis communications, brand and reputation management practitioners.

Teaching upper-division public relations courses, I would flash images of corporate logos up on the screen and ask students how Company A or Company B makes money.

In our quick media world — whether by conventional or digital means — the millennial digital native generation, more than any other that preceded it, has been bombarded incessantly on all sides by brands.

After initial hesitations, the students were quickly and enthusiastically recalling what the brand means in term of how a company makes money, and even “positioning” companies in their respective market spaces (e.g., BMW vs. VW: Nordstrom vs. Macy’s; Southwest vs. United). Starbucks and McDonald’s both sell upscale coffee. They now both offer drive-through windows. They are the same. Right? Wrong.

As mentioned before in Almost DailyBrett, LinkedIn and Facebook are both social media outlets. To Wall Street they couldn’t be more different.

LinkedIn debuted at $45 in 2011 and now trades at $245.13.linkedin_logo_11

Facebook went public at $38 in 2012 and now trades at $51.01.

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LinkedIn has been able to easily answer the how it makes money question (e.g., monetizes social media) by pointing to “connections,” premium services, advertising and the fact that LinkedIn is the choice for recruiters, job hunters, network builders and those seeking business leads.

Facebook is finally starting to gain traction in the market after its disastrous NASDAQ IPO. The company has been plagued by how do “friends” correlate with the legal tender?

Will 140-character per tweet Twitter be the next LinkedIn, the next Facebook or just maybe the first Twitter in the eyes of Wall Street investors?

A CNBC report this week pointed to Twitter’s relationship with the hard-to-get National Football League and CBS in which video supplied by both will be available for tweets. Wall Street may very well see a ka-ching correlation with this deal.

The deal and others, plus the recently announced Twitter S-1 (e.g., company prospectus) may have a direct bearing on what will be the pricing and Wall Street response to the much-anticipated IPO.

As more companies pursue the IPO route, minus the ones that opt to rebuild in privacy (e.g., Dell), that means even more opportunities for skilled-and-trained corporate public relations, investor relations, crisis communications, brand-and-management protection pros.

Conservatively, there are more than 5,100 publicly traded companies on the two major exchanges, the NYSE Euronext and NASDAQ. There are thousands more on overseas exchange, such as Japan’s Nikkei, Hong Kong’s Hang Sang, Britain’s “Footsie” or FTSE, France’s CAC-40 and Germany’s DAX.

Each of these companies, most definitely those in America, has reporting requirements on an annualized and quarterly basis. The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) mandates 10-Q quarterly earnings reports; 10-K annual reports to shareholders; 8-K unscheduled “material” information disclosure announcements; S-4 additional share purchases, an annual meeting with shareholders, and of course, an S-1 filing of a privately held company prospectus prior to an IPO.

All of these filings require on-target prose, delivered conventionally and digitally, employing text, audio and video. Who are these message builders? Who will train them? And where can they be found?

As long as a publicly traded company is in business, it must report. It must communicate. It has absolutely no choice.

Quite clearly, the demand for these highly skilled corporate PR and investor relations practitioners outstrips the supply. Maybe that’s why they are compensated at a PR segment high average of $117,233 annually.

Sounds like an upwards-to-the-right market for qualitative-and-quantitative PR/IR types.

Full-Disclosure Note: The editor of Almost DailyBrett at various times owned shares of both LinkedIn and Facebook, only to subsequently sell the stocks. He fully anticipates as a mere retail investor being a late arrival to the upcoming Twitter IPO, if only to follow TWTR on a daily basis…Thank God he never bought into Enron.

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20131003191330-270738-with-twitter-s-ipo-5-key-things-you-need-to-understand-about-the-social-ad-revolution

http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomiogeron/2013/10/03/twitter-reveals-long-awaited-ipo-plans-253m-revenue-in-first-half-of-2013/

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/10/03/twitter-discloses-its-i-p-o-plans/?_r=0

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