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How To Get “Monitoring The Conversation” Right

Being an incendiary, I’m used to getting unfollowed, ignored and even blocked (yes @mark_to_market blocked me, Lord knows who else, I stopped caring at 2000) and I’m definitely used to seeing the rats scatter across my stats every time I mention [insert firm or company name here] so it’s obvious to me from my various online interactions that some communications departments are keeping an eye on the conversation.

Since we’re all interested in the accounting side of things, I have to say that I notice more “official-looking” Twitter activity from firms based outside of the US (generally Big 4 coming from the UK or Canada) that leads me to believe most of them are at least keeping an eye on the Google alerts. PwC had the large pair to follow me once, very early on, and probably unfollowed when I started ripping on them for bumbling Satyam. Anyway, someone has to watch what’s being said and a company (or organization) can only choose to engage or not engage.

Engaging, of course, comes in several forms but to vaguely pin down what “engage” means, I’d define it as any activity that alerts others they are listening and/or give a shit.

For Comcast, they swarm Twitter responding to complaints about their crappy service, extortion boxes, and complicated remotes. Not all companies choose to take that route, nor should they be expected to. Protecting or guarding your brand means figuring out how much “engaging” is appropriate as any more or less than is appropriate for your particular organization’s needs will come off as fake, lame or just forced. And no one wants to interact with that.

For Dave and Buster’s, I give them credit for totally engaging me by following me. I’ve been publicly ripping on them for at least a week but I’m not doing it just to be mean, I’d really really like to know what went down with E&Y (welcome to your new gig, KPMG). I’ve never actually been in a D&B and any inquisitive tweets on my part were not returned but so far they haven’t sued me so I guess I’m doing well on that front.

Some agencies choose to completely ignore some of the more “questionable” interaction that isn’t exactly a pissed off customer. They’re already trained to handle that (any social media idiot can teach you how to talk to customers who talk about you in a list of 3 items or more) but they aren’t likely prepared for a fake accounting firm to ask them if newly-single D&B would want to try them out as auditors.

I don’t expect Dave & Buster’s to answer or acknowledge that but following me shows that they are at least aware I’m trying to egg them on and aren’t afraid of my bitch ass. Unlike the fake accounting firm, I’m a voice out there spreading whatever I know about [insert company] to a huge audience. They can’t send me 10,000 free tickets to shut my trap and I’m not exactly making a complaint they can resolve so what can they do? Keep an eye on me?

I admire that tactic. And may leave them alone… I’m more likely to do so if I get a tweet about what happened with E&Y but won’t be holding my breath for that particular @.

Auditors, The PCAOB Still Doesn’t Think Too Highly of the Job You’re Doing

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Chuck_Liddell_001.jpgThe PCAOB is considering telling auditors how to do their jobs issuing guidance on communication with audit committees and a new auditing standard on related parties, according to Compliance Week. Not to worry though, they’re going to ask the bigwigs on the Standing Advisory Group for their $0.02:

The PCAOB also plans to bounce some ideas off the advisory group for a new standard to govern how auditor should communicate with audit committees, in part to establish some new guidance regarding communication about management judgments and estimates. According to a briefing paper provided to SAG members, PCAOB is looking for ideas on how to get past boilerplate dialogue to achieve more effective, robust communications between auditors and audit committees.

Auditors? Boilerplate dialogue? Is the PCAOB questioning your ability to ask substantive questions? For shame. Obviously Peekatboobs will be able to develop much better, non-boilerplate questions than you and then you’ll be required to ask those questions of the audit committee. That’ll get the job done.
Likewise, auditors, you’ve simply dropped the ball on related parties since, “financial relationships with related parties have proved important in recent corporate scandals, and the board’s inspection and enforcement actions suggest some auditors aren’t skeptical enough when evaluating such relationships and transactions.”
The infinite wisdom of the PCAOB is clearly on display here. Auditors, it’s going to become necessary that your skepticism is going to reach a physical level or at least the threat of such. Your skepticism in words and on paper is simply not getting the job done.
You’ll have to get Chuck Liddell to beat some people down or simply laying heat out on the conference table during discussions to get your point across, otherwise, clients are going to just keep taking advantage of you.
This will be the plan until the next financial crisis of course when the PCAOB will assess that the questions and methods developed now turn out to be boilerplate and ineffective and it’ll be back to the drawing board again. Don’t get too comfortable.
PCAOB Considers Rules on Communication, Related Parties [Compliance Week]