Tag Archives: communication

3333_E_Camelback-Bldg

Colliers International Closes 92,200 SF, $12M Office Building Sale in Phoenix

Colliers International in Greater Phoenix recently negotiated the sale of a 92,233 square-foot Class-A office building located at 3333 E. Camelback Road in Phoenix for $12 million, or $130/square foot.

Fenway Properties of San Diego acquired the property. Fenway plans to upgrade the common areas and develop new, spec suites to accommodate tenants of various square footage requirements.

The seller was Noffsinger Manufacturing Company of Greely, Colo.

Todd Noel, senior vice president; Keith Lambeth, senior vice president; and Ryan Timpani, senior associate; served as the Colliers International in Greater Phoenix brokers for both parties.

“The office building represents a strong investment for Fenway due to the building’s strategic location within the prestigious Camelback Corridor submarket, quality construction and timeless finishes,” Noel said.

Built in 1984, the two-story building comprises multiple suites ranging from 1,214 to 17,930 square feet.

cell phone accessories

Unified Communications helps advance business

It is a somewhat overused cliché that business moves at the speed of light.   Technological advancements in the areas of communication (phone systems, dial tone carriers as well as mobility) have enabled companies to not only communicate faster, but with greater flexibility than ever before. This advancement has been identified with a new term, Unified Communications.

Unified Communications is a term that looks at your entire organization’s communication system as one entity.  From individuals working at their desk, to fax management and mobile users in the field, Unified Communications ties your entire organization together so communication is faster, less costly, more efficient and allows greater flexibility by deploying some very smart technology.

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

An acronym for Voice Over Internet Protocol, VoIP is your phone system working over your Local Area Network and ultimately Wide Area Networks. Since your phone system is now using the LAN or WAN, there is a wider range of information and data that can be passed though the system, often at much lower cost than traditional analog systems. The total cost of ownership, initial cost savings and flexibility makes VoIP the standard for most business today.

PRI

This is a service offered by communication companies that resides on a company’s T1 line. It allows an organization the ability to have 23 voice and 1 data channel, that can be assigned as needed to maximize communications. It is a long-term savings over individual analog lines.

Mobility

Today’s workforce is more mobile than ever before. Unified Communications embraces that mobility with applications that allow a workforce in the field to have the same flexibility and features as they would in their office.  It allows a mobile user to communicate with customers just like they were sitting at their desk, with additional cost savings functions (using WiFi to make calls, thus limiting cell phone charges) and features such as voice mail routing and DID (Direct Inward Dialing).

Direct Inward Dialing (DID)

Unified Communications is not an aspect that is limited to just your location, but in fact takes multiple locations into account.  By deploying the right connections between your offices, your internal users can dial an extension from their desk in Phoenix to an extension in New Jersey, by just dialing the extension number. No long distance charges apply if it goes over the WAN and while it might seem small, the time it takes to dial four numbers as opposed to 10, times all the people in your office, the time savings is almost immediate.

Fax Management

Fax machines are still a vital part of our business world, but the cost to run those machines is at times, just not worth the price of having them. Fax paper, a dedicated fax line and toner all add up to overhead that companies are trying to cut, in order to save money. With Unified Communications, this is addressed by having faxes come through VoIP system, not paying for a dedicated fax line and routing those faxes to a software package that resides on any computer. From there, that computer can email faxes to the intended recipient where it can be stored or printed if needed.

Voice Documentation

Many of us have spoken to organizations that state “this call could be recorded for training purposes”, and that is Voice Documentation.  For organizations that need a reference point for conversations (legal issues, billable hours, technical conversations, etc.) Voice Documentation is an excellent application that is part of Unified Communications.  Deploying this facet of Unified Communications allows and organization to train employees, capture critical conversations to reduce error or confirm billable hours for a law firm or a service industry.

If you have not investigated the advantages of a Unified Communications platform, it really is worth investigating. The flexibility, cost and time savings have been proven over many years and it truly is an option as an upgrade to standard phone systems of yesterday.

 

Rob Wengrzyn is sales manager for Copper State Communications. Copper State Communications provides products that satisfy the most complicated needs, with personalized voice and data solutions that simplify your business and communication needs.

Fennemore Craig has implemented a new way to communicate with its clients

Local Law Firm Enhances Attorney-Client Communication With Red Phone

Fennemore Craig, the oldest and one of the largest law firms in Arizona, has implemented a new way to communicate with its clients. The “Red Phone” is an iPod Touch in a red case that has pre-programmed information linked to a specific case and group of lawyers that translates case-related information between client and attorney.

Fennemore Craig Red PhoneHow does this increase communication? Clients are provided with the iPad or iPod Touches to send delicate attorney/client information through email, camera functions and Skype — a system that allows face-to-face interaction via video and voice communication. When a client needs to talk, a special number programmed into the phone calls all the attorneys linked to the case and one must answer at all times.

The Red Phone has already been assisting families incapacitated with seriously-injured loved ones who may be in a place with no Internet access or office setting with equipment such as a phone, fax machine or computer.

James Goodnow, an associate for Fennemore Craig, believes this new program will impact the practices’ relationship with its clients in a tremendous way.

“We want our clients to always have human communication,” says Goodnow. “The immediate response time has gotten positive reviews from the clients.”

The camera function allows clients to take case-relevant photos and send them immediately to their attorney.

Documents that pertain to the case can be sent with preloaded email addresses directly to the attorneys involved, and clients can review papers sent from the office.

Videos conferences are used to inform parties involved of the evidence retained.

“Instead of reading about our clients, the other lawyers will see them,” says Goodnow. “We can also show them how a case will be presented to a jury.”

It also allows attorneys to update the patient’s condition.

Fennemore Craig 2011

The phone costs nothing to clients. After the case has been resolved and there is no need for communication, the phones are returned to Fennemore.

Everyone with a case at Fennemore is eligible for the phone. iPads are given to those who are less tech savvy and don’t have internet access. Everyone else receives an iPod Touch.

The Fennemore Craig Law Firm was founded more than 110 years ago in Phoenix. The firm has over 120 attorneys with offices in Phoenix and Tucson. They are looking out for the best interest of their clients and know the Red Phone will enhance their abilities to do so.

Image Provided by Flickr

ASU Cancels Study Abroad Program In Egypt

On January 25th, Egyptian citizens erupted in violent revolution against corruption, extensive poverty, enormous national unemployment and numerous governance problems of autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak — and two Arizona State students were caught in its crossfire.

The students were studying abroad in Cairo at the time political unrest hit its threshold in late January; and with ASU’s Study Abroad Office’s help, they were pulled out of the area.

Image Provided by FlickrASU has had a long-standing relationship with the American University of Cairo (AUC) where the previously mentioned students had been studying, but as CNN reported attacks on American journalists in the area, concerns arose from families of the students involved.

“We feel confident that both students will be back in the U.S. by this weekend, weather permitting”, said Amy Shenberger, director of the Study Abroad Office at ASU.

Their decision in the cancellation was met with widespread agreement by both the U.S. government agencies involved and university partners in Cairo.

In result from years of political turmoil, Egypt reached its tipping point of strong government rhetoric from Mubarak.  Headlines of bloodied civilians and anti-riot police have scattered newspapers nationwide, giving American news affiliates reason for concern.

According to the Washington Post, the White House is aiding in the extraction of news reporters in the area, as many have been savagely beaten or detained by the Egyptian government.Image Provided by Flickr

iJet, a travel intelligence that monitors international activity for ASU’s study abroad office, has maintained communication with Shenberger to give live updates on the situation.

Shenberger also strongly advocates the continuation of its program in Egypt in future years but believes the current political atmosphere presents a clear and present danger to the students.

“We have had a partnership with AUC since 2004, and it’s our intention to maintain that going forward,” said Shenberger.

The program plans to resume once the dust settles in Egypt, according to Shenberger, and ASU will continue to monitor the situation with the students’ best interests.

“The safety and security of all of our students is our primary concern, [and] any time the danger in a location outweighs the benefits of the academic program, we take the steps necessary to ensure our students’ safety,” said Shenberger.

Provided By Flickr

Five Monopolies, Methods of Communication Losing Their Hold

1.

Landlines

According to CITA, an International Wireless nonprofit organization, 91% of Americans carry a cell phone as of 2009, and those numbers have continued to expand.  Now more than ever, with the growing popularity of the iPhone and Droid, cell phones have become both a necessity and an addiction.

In past decades, landlines were an essential part of the home, but with cell phone giants like Apple, wireless communication is quickly eliminating the need for both a home phone and cell.  Now, phones do much more than dial, and let’s be honest — landlines don’t have Angry Birds or Restaurant Finder Apps.

Landline Phones No More

2.

“Snail” Mail vs. Email

Once a monopoly on long-distance communication, mailing letters to friends or loved ones has been virtually phased out of everyday conversation and proven to be the least efficient means of interaction.  What was once a necessity for love notes, bank statements, and college acceptance letters, “snail” mail is quickly becoming replaced with the popularity of social media platforms and widespread use of email.

Since cell phone’s and the internet explosion in the early 1990’s, this generation’s lack of composition skills have been harshly scrutinized.  In 2009, The United States Postal Service stated that 177 billion pieces of mail were delivered in the US, compared to 14.4 trillion by email.  Now, young people rely heavily on a keyboard, 140 characters and auto-correct spelling.

"Snail" Mail Replaced by Email

3.

Newspapers

Electronic tablets, such as Apple’s iPad, Samsung’s Galaxy Pad, Amazon’s Kindle or the BlackBerry Playbook, have been 2010’s newest toy.  According to the Washington Post, “average daily circulation of all U.S. newspapers has been in decline since 1987″ and “has hit its lowest level in seven decades.”

Newspapers have been undoubtedly hit hard — as major stations are reporting record losses, cuts and even closures across the country.  Despite the change in the medium which news is delivered, there will always be a desire and need for the public to be informed and educated on current events.  It’s just that now news is viewed on a 9 x 5 LED screen — not paper.

Physical Newspapers Moving Online

4.

Video Rental Stores

Some of my fondest childhood memories include “Power Rangers:  The Movie” and the newest Nintendo 64 game — both of which were rented from the local Blockbuster.  Video rental stores, like Blockbuster, have been slowly declining in business over the past 6 years as online sites such as Netflix and RedBox have stolen much of the business which these stores once had.

Having closed over 600 stores in just the past three years and reported record losses in the hundreds of millions, it’s no wonder Blockbuster is struggling to stay afloat.  According to an article by MSNBC.com, “Blockbuster Inc. may close as many as 960 stores by the end of next year,” primarily in response to appeal and ease of online streaming — in a society glued to their computer screens.

Video Rentals Like Blockbuster Replaced by Nexflix, Flickr, Scott Clark

5.

In-Person Classrooms

As a current student at ASU, I recognize that most classes still meet in a physical room with a paper syllabus and wooden desks from the Jimmy Carter administration.  However, as technology of educational tools increases, so does the medium with which it is taught.

Arizona State University offered over 700 online classes this spring, which range from Managerial Economics to History of Hip Hop.  It’s not just ASU, but virtually all major universities across the country offer online classes and degrees, and sites like Blackboard allow professors to post assignments and readings for the week online.

Classrooms Moving Online
hr_director_med_biz

2009 Medium Business HR Director Of The Year Honoree

Bruce GardnerName: Bruce Gardner
Title: Human Resources Director
Company: Town of Queen Creek

Years with city: 2.5
Years in current position: 2.5
Year incorporated: 1989
Employees in AZ: 230
Employees in HR department: 5
www.queencreek.org

Explosive growth was the norm not so long ago in Arizona, but there probably weren’t many people wondering about its impact on human resources departments at city halls around the state. Even after the recession took hold, cities and towns had to continue serving new residents and businesses, and they had to have staff to do that.

In 2008, the Town of Queen Creek created and absorbed two new departments for utilities and fire protection. Suddenly, Human Resources Director Bruce Gardner had to contend with more than 60 new employees, including 14 supervisors and managers. Gardner knew it was important to indoctrinate the new supervisory staff in the town’s leadership culture. To accomplish that goal, his department crafted in-house leadership training for those employees and 11 other prospective supervisors.

Topics covered in the supervisor training were comprehensive — communication, motivation and delegation, team building, equal employment opportunity, valuing and managing diversity, interviewing new hires, coaching and performance management, discipline and corrective actions, and leadership. In addition, several of the town’s department heads participate in Arizona State University’s certified public manager program.

Human resources also has created a progressive policy under which town employees take ownership of their training and professional development. Annually, each employee is responsible for writing a training-and-development outline. The town offers several options for accomplishing goals, including classes, seminars, conferences and town-sponsored training. All employees may take advantage of a customer-service initiative recently developed by Gardner that focuses on internal and external communication and teamwork.

In 2008, Gardner leveraged the power of technology to automate the town’s entire hiring and employment process. This has freed up his staff to devote more time to activities related to employee retention.

To improve the town’s competitiveness in the job market, Gardner recently implemented a middle-ground salary structure that allows the town to attract and retain exceptional talent without busting the budget.

Looking for a way to better balance the needs of its employees and its constituents, the town implemented a four-day work week. Extended hours Monday through Thursday offer more flexibility to those who need to conduct business with the town. Fridays off give employees extra hours to take care of personal business and have more family time.

With the health of the town’s employees in mind, Gardner is launching free wellness and fitness programs that offer biometric testing, health-related seminars and “lunch-and-learn” sessions with various agencies. When a new, full-service fitness center opened, an agreement was negotiated to offer reduced rates to the town’s employees and their families. The town also hosts a large-scale wellness fair that features health care providers, onsite medical testing and health-and-wellness vendors and speakers. Also, mobile onsite mammography services come to town hall annually.

With the four-day work week and a variety of wellness opportunities available to employees, the Town of Queen Creek has improved productivity, reduced absenteeism and increased utilization of preventive-health services.

The Go Daddy Group Inc. - Best of the Best Awards 2009 presented by Ranking Arizona

Best of the Best Awards 2009: Manufacturing & Technology

Manufacturing & Technology Honoree: Software Companies

The Go Daddy Group Inc.

The Go Daddy Group Inc. - Best of the Best Awards 2009 presented by Ranking ArizonaGoDaddy.com is the quintessential American success story — take a good idea, serve customers with low-priced products, innovate related products, mix in marketing “magic” and relentlessly improve en route to industry dominance. In 2000, Bob Parsons opened GoDaddy.com as a domain registrar. Why? He recognized customers were being under-served and over-charged for Web site address names. GoDaddy.com is now the world’s largest registrar — more than three times the size of its closest competitor. GoDaddy.com serves more than 6 million customers and employs more than 2,000 people, without offshoring. While you may have heard about GoDaddy.com’s Super Bowl advertising magic, it’s the less publicized stories that impress. The company routinely testifies before Congress on issues related to protecting children, keeping the Internet safe and reducing spam.

The company donates to the community and rewards its employees with prizes such as cars and cash.

14455 N. Hayden Road, #219, Scottsdale
480-505-8800
www.GoDaddy.com

Year Est: 1997
AZ Staff: 2,028
Principal(s): Bob Parsons


Manufacturing & Technology Finalist: Internet Service Providers

Cox Communications Inc.

Cox Communications is the third-largest cable provider and a multiservice broadband communications company serving more than 3 million residential and business product subscribers in Arizona. Cox’s 15,000 – mile hybrid fiber coaxial cable network throughout Phoenix and Southern Arizona provides homes and businesses with digital television, high-speed Internet, home networking, high-definition television and telephone service. In the last five years, Cox has topped 11 J.D. Power and Associates’ studies of customer satisfaction in a variety of categories.

1550 W. Deer Valley Road, Phoenix
623-594-1000
www.cox.com


Manufacturing & Technology Finalist: Wireless Communications

Verizon Wireless

“It’s the Network” isn’t just an advertising slogan — it’s Verizon’s foundation. Since 2000, Verizon has invested nearly $700 million in its wireless network in Arizona, and nearly $45 billion nationally to increase coverage, capacity and to add services. The leader in customer loyalty, Verizon Wireless has the nation’s largest 3G network, a reputation for reliability and an ongoing commitment to providing the best possible wireless experience. The company employs more than 2,200 wireless experts in Arizona who stand behind Verizon’s network every day.

77155 W. Detroit St., Chandler
480-763-6300
www.verizonwireless.com


Best of the Best Awards 2009 presented by Ranking Arizona

Fully integrated office communication

Office Phones, Mobiles and Computers Are Finally Communicating Effectively

For years, communications devices have struggled to become fully integrated. Your computer, your office phone and your mobile phone have operated independent of one another, each with its own specific purpose.

The good news is that these devices have learned to coexist in ways previously unheard of, sharing some of the responsibilities that were previously exclusive to each device. And thanks to that improved relationship, you can now seamlessly integrate all your communications, saving you time, effort and stress.

Here are some of the most popular ways electronic devices are coming together:

Simultaneous ring
What it does: Think of simultaneous ring as call forwarding on steroids. Rather than routing calls to your office phone, then to your home office, then to your mobile phone, you can now program up to 10 phones to ring at the same time when someone calls your business line. You simply pick up the one you’re closest to.

Why you need it: With simultaneous ring, you only need one business phone number. That’s it. Your callers will be able to reach you in the office, at home, in the car or wherever you are, by dialing that one number, and that added convenience translates into fewer headaches for your callers and for you. Your caller won’t know where you are, unless you tell them. And don’t worry, you can easily add and remove the phones you want to ring with a click of the mouse, so you’re in complete control.

Voicemail-to-e-mail
What it does: When a caller leaves you a voicemail message, you receive that message in your e-mail inbox as an audio file (.WAV) attachment. Click on the file and it opens in your default audio program and plays just like a song. And if you get your e-mail on your mobile device, you’ll be able to open it there too, provided your device can open .WAV files. No matter which device you’re using, you can easily access your voicemail. As an added benefit, you can file, save or forward the message just as you do regular e-mail.

Why you need it: It makes retrieving voicemail so much simpler. You no longer have to sit in front of your office phone or call into it to access voicemail. Your voicemail comes to you. And when you receive a message you want to forward or share, it’s as easy as clicking “forward” in your e-mail inbox.

Mobile-to-desk call handoff
What it does: Allows you to transfer calls between your mobile and desk phone seamlessly, without interrupting the call. The caller never knows that you answered her call in your office and then finished it in your car, or vice versa.

Why you need it: Since 40 percent of mobile phone usage takes place in the office, you will save hundreds of minutes on your mobile phone plan when you hand off those calls to your office phone. Also, you will never again have to interrupt a call to switch phones.

Fax-to-e-mail
What it does: The fax machine may soon become extinct thanks to fax-to-e-mail. Similar to voicemail-to-e-mail, fax messages now arrive in your e-mail inbox as attachments (.TIF or .PDF files). You still have a fax number, but you no longer need a fax machine to receive the messages. Once received in your inbox, you can file, save, forward, or print them as needed.

Why you need it: No more paper to buy. No more paper jams. No more toner. No more fumbling through stacks of paper looking for that important fax. No more listening to that annoying beep. Need we say more?

Integrated toolbar
What it does: You can manage all of the features mentioned above through a toolbar that integrates with Outlook and Internet Explorer. With a few simple clicks, you can quickly and easily update and change any of your settings. Add or remove phone numbers to simultaneously ring. Choose which calls get through, and which are rejected. View and place calls from your corporate directory. You can do all this and more right from your computer.

Why you need it: You’ve never had this level of control before, and if you did, you probably had to call an IT person to make these changes for you. Now you can do it yourself right from your computer, and it’s easy.

A more meaningful connection
So now that you know these features are available, you may be asking, “How does this work?” The answer lies in the intelligence of your phone system.

In traditional phone service, a semi-mysterious box known as a PBX resides in a closet somewhere in your office. This box contains the intelligence of your phone system and communicates with the phones on your desk, allowing them to receive calls, voice messages and more. This box, however, does not communicate with your computer or mobile phone, which is why you cannot access features such as those mentioned above with traditional phone service.

The solution is to switch to a hosted phone service. Hosted means you get rid of the box in the closet, and plug into a nationwide platform that contains all the intelligence previously held by that box, but so much more. You connect your computer and your phone to this platform through a secure dynamic T1 line, while you download applications to your mobile phone to connect to the same platform. That’s how your phones and computer can communicate so easily — they receive intelligence from the same source.

As convergence technologies continue to advance, the day will soon come when one device will serve as computer, phone and much more. No longer will we need multiple devices. Until that day, you can enjoy convergence technologies that allow your office phones, mobile phones and computers to operate as one big integrated family.

Angela Leavitt is director of marketing for Telesphere, www.telesphere.com

Students involved in cheating are more likely to engage in unethical practices such as insider trading.

University Of Arizona Program Teaches Undergrads The Importance Of Good Ethics

In the 21st century, incidents of corporate malfeasance have become commonplace. America witnessed the implosion of the onetime energy wonder Enron, the fall of telecommunications giant WorldCom, and the collapse of mortgage miracle Countrywide, just to name a few.

Not surprisingly, questions were quickly raised about the role business schools played in such scandals, the implication being that B-schools encouraged the blind pursuit of profit maximization and a “winner-take-all” mentality. While such fiery rhetoric is provocative, it’s important to point out that such pursuits run counter to the basic tenets of long-term, sustainable business practices taught in business classes.

While B-schools certainly have a role to play in promoting ethical practices, such a tremendous responsibility can’t fall squarely on the shoulders of B-schools. It is our families and institutions in society that must also demonstrate and reinforce personal and professional ethics.

Even though a host of ethics initiatives, centers, and/or institutes bubbled up across the nation in response to highly publicized cases of corporate corruption, nearly all are situated at the graduate level among MBA students and centered on matters related to corporate governance. The Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona launched its ethics program in 2003, and it was met with interest and enthusiasm for being markedly different.

The Eller ethics program, E-tegrity (Eller Integrity), is aimed at undergraduate business students and is focused on connecting academic integrity in the classroom with future behavior in the workplace. As research suggests, student behaviors demonstrated in the classroom can carry over into careers. Put differently, students involved in cheating are more likely and at-risk to engage in unethical practices such as insider trading.

From the onset, E-tegrity was supported by Eller College Dean Paul Portney. Leadership from the top is always imperative to begin and maintain any program. Equally important is the buy-in from faculty and students. Faculty affirmed that the college had a responsibility to promote ethics and were invigorated with the prospect of establishing a culture of strong ethics. Students also proved deeply interested. With this broad base of support, E-tegrity began.

Prior to the start of the fall 2003 semester, faculty were asked to take three simple, but important measures in their classes: (1) include a college-adopted student oath statement on syllabi that addressed both academic dishonesty and academic misconduct, (2) formally handle all academic integrity cases, and (3) use the anti-plagiarism software (Turnitin.com) purchased by the college.

The code of conduct statements on syllabi would help ensure that faculty sent a consistent message to students. Formally handling cases would encourage that due process would be followed and cases would be officially reported. The anti-plagiarism software would help deter and detect plagiarism, which accounted for 70 percent of university academic integrity violations in 2002-2003. By adopting these measures, the faculty would take on the primary responsibility for the enforcement component of the program.

Because E-tegrity called for a cultural change in the college that centered on student involvement, in the same fall 2003 semester, students were invited to apply for membership to a new student organization known as the Eller Board of Honor and Integrity (EBHI). EBHI would ultimately be charged with the educational component of the program, working with students on a variety of innovative programs to help raise awareness. Members of EBHI would: (1) Develop a student oath that would be administered to students upon entry to the college; (2) offer presentations to students on the importance of ethics, whereby they not only promoted, but were expected to exemplify personal integrity and ethics among their peers; and (3) assist with the organization and delivery of a series of new and innovative programs that have come to define E-tegrity on a national scale.

Ultimately, the programs of E-tegrity are aimed at three levels: K-12, collegiate and executive. At the K-12 level, there is the High School Ethics Forum. EBHI members facilitate discussions among the city’s top high school students on matters related to personal and professional ethics. At the university level, there is the Eller Ethics Case Competition, in which top B-schools from around the country send their very best students to compete in a three-day event that challenges the ethical reasoning of students. At the executive level, there is the partnership with the Tucson Chapter of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) where students from EBHI comprise a single vote in the BBB’s Annual Business Ethics Awards process. In the near future, EBHI members will also serve as teaching assistants in the college’s first ethics course. In this capacity, EBHI members will assist with the course objective of promoting ethical decision-making.

Over the past five years, E-tegrity has gained traction and matured as an ethics program. By connecting academic integrity in the classroom with future behavior in the workplace, the college motivates students to examine their personal values and consider all stakeholders in their decision-making.E-tegrity has been the recipient of various awards for excellence, and innovation has provided meaningful guidance to B-schools around the country looking to address and support ethical behavior on the part of undergraduate students and future business leaders. The real payoff will come in several years, when we begin to graduate students whose entire college career will have taken place in an atmosphere of high standards that are clearly articulated, widely honored, and vigorously enforced.

Paul Melendez is the founder and director of the ethics program at the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona. For more information on E-tegrity, visitugrad.eller.arizona.edu/etegrity

Proxies

The SEC Catches Up On New Technology In Proxy Solicitations

A quick tutorial: Proxies are the means by which public shareholders vote. The Securities Exchange Act of 1934 governs the solicitation of those proxies. The act and the regulations adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission under the act are designed to ensure a fair process with adequate disclosure to shareholders so they may make an informed voting decision in a timely manner.

In the past year, the SEC has adopted significant rules intended to simplify, clarify and modernize proxy solicitations by use of the Internet.

In July 2007, the SEC adopted amendments that modernize the proxy rules by requiring issuers and other soliciting persons to follow the “notice and access” model for proxy materials. Soliciting persons are now required to post a complete set of their proxy materials on an Internet site and furnish notice to shareholders of their electronic availability. The Internet site must be a site other than the EDGAR (Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval system) maintained by the SEC. The site must be publicly accessible, free of charge and maintain user confidentiality. In addition, the materials posted must be in a format convenient for printing and for reading online. Companies must provide paper or e-mail copies, as specified by the shareholder, within three business days of a shareholder’s request.

Notice to shareholders can be provided in one of two ways: the “notice-only” option, which is simply notice of electronic availability; or the “full-set delivery” option, which is a full set of paper proxy materials along with a notice of Internet availability. Under the “notice only” option, a notice must be sent at least 40 calendar days before the date that votes are counted. Under the “full-set delivery” option, notice need not be made separate and the 40-day period is not applicable, so the notice can be incorporated directly into the proxy materials.

Under both options, the notice must include certain specific information and must be filed with the SEC. The options are not mutually exclusive, so one option can be used to send notice to a particular class of shareholders, while the other option can be used to send notice to others. Intermediaries and other soliciting persons must also follow the “notice and access” model, with some exceptions. Specifically, intermediaries must tailor notice to beneficial owners, and soliciting persons other than the issuer need not solicit every shareholder. Most large public companies were required to follow the “notice and access” model for proxy materials as of Jan. 1, 2008. All others, including registered investment companies and soliciting persons other than an issuer, can voluntarily comply at any time, but must fully comply by Jan. 1, 2009.

Effective Feb. 25 of this year, the SEC adopted further amendments that encourage use of the Internet in the proxy solicitation process by facilitating the use of electronic shareholder forums. These amendments are intended to remove some of the legal ambiguity resulting from the use of electronic shareholder forums by clarifying that participation in an electronic shareholder forum is exempt from most of the proxy rules if specific conditions are met. The new rules also establish that shareholders, companies and other parties that establish, maintain or operate an electronic forum will not be liable under the federal securities laws for any statement or information provided by another person participating in the forum.

Specifically, any participant in an electronic shareholder forum is exempt from the proxy rules if the communication is made more than 60 days before the announced date of the company’s annual or special shareholder meeting, or if the meeting date was announced less than 60 days before it was scheduled to occur, within two days of the announcement, provided that the communicating party does not solicit proxy authority while relying on the exemption. Solicitations that fall outside these relevant dates continue to be subject to the proxy rules.

Further, if a solicitation was made within the relevant dates but remains electronically accessible thereafter, the solicitation could then become subject to the proxy rules. In this regard, the SEC suggests that forum operators give posting users a means of deleting their postings or having their postings “go dark” as of the applicable 60 day or two day cut off.

While the amendments exempt solicitations from the proxy rules, they do not exempt posting persons from liability for the content of their postings under traditional liability theories, including anti-fraud provisions that may require a participant to identify himself and which prohibit misstatements and omissions of material facts. Further, the amendments extend liability protection only to shareholders, companies and third parties who create, operate or maintain an electronic shareholder forum on behalf of a shareholder or company. These persons receive protection against liability for statements made or information provided by participants in the forum, so long as the forum complies with federal securities laws, relevant state law and the company’s charter and bylaws.

Karen C. McConnell is partner-in-charge of the mergers and acquisitions/private equity group; Adrienne W. Wilhoit is a partner; and Brooke T. Mickelson is an associate at Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, www.ballardspahr.com.