Can Annotated Press Releases Be A Good Communication Tool?

Last week Aubrey Bergauer made the following post calling the attention of arts organizations to an annotated press release put out by the financial company Ellevest announcing their success in raising $53 million.

While there were some silly annotations like calling Bankrate “smarties” for naming Ellevest “the #1 mission-driven investment offering,” on the whole the annotations were used to provide deeper perspective on the effort that went into raising those funds and telling Ellevest’s story.

For example, the annotation stating Ellevest is funded by 360 women and underrepresented investors revealed:

“I get the game on these raise announcements. I know what the narrative is “supposed” to be: that institutions were throwing money at us to invest in Ellevest.

What really happened: As we began our raise, we had dozens and dozens (and dozens) of meetings with potential investors, and they were going … fine. Fine to good, in fact.

And then … the women showed up.

Caroline Lewis, of Rogue Ventures, heard about our raise and contacted us. … Then, so did Jesse Draper at Halogen Ventures. And so did Jenny Abramson at Rethink Impact. And so did a number of others.

This opened up our funding round to these underrepresented investors — for them to support us (by funding the company), and, we hope, for us to support them (by working hard to deliver a strong return and build their track records). …

The annotation quoting Caroline Lewis saying there is a need for financial products that serve women stated:

“Like, actually serve women. Not just market to women. And not just be a pinkwashed version of your father’s financial advisor…”

The annotated format serves multiple purposes. For those that just want something formatted for publication to quickly copy and paste, there is the surface text. For those that want the deeper story about the challenges and process, the annotations provide threads to follow. The format opens up all sorts of possibilities.

A release about a milestone anniversary of your organization may list all the people who performed for you over the years, but an annotation on some of those artists might note that the trumpet player in the band met his wife at a performance, settled down in the community and now their daughter is the executive director.

You may send out a release acknowledging that dozens of people worked thousands of hours over the course of a year and a half to implement your equity and diversity policy and practices. You may not be able to list everyone in the press release, but you can include them in an annotation.

Obviously, the biggest issue is that an annotated press release is only available on a web format. You can’t squeeze all that into a PDF or Word document emailed to a media outlet. On the other hand, people are getting their information from traditional media outlets less and less frequently so there is a good chance to get eyeballs on your press release by linking to it via social media posts.

People are able to consume as much or as little additional information as they may like. That way you can keep the details short and sweet for people with passing interest or short attention spans, but let those who are really invested and interested in your organization feel like they are in the know by digging into the tidbits in every annotation.

If I recall correctly, it is relatively easy to include annotations on a number of web and blog platforms like WordPress. I thought my blog had that option so I could illustrate, but since I didn’t use it much I suspect it disappeared during an update years ago.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.

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1 thought on “Can Annotated Press Releases Be A Good Communication Tool?”

  1. This is a great example of a good idea that can go sideways really fast when it comes to keeping content accessible. Any org interested in implementing this will need to be prepared to spend some additional time and resources on making sure the solution complies with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards: https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/

    The source PR at https://www.ellevest.com/ isn’t compliant, even with that accessibility add-on service.

    Granted, I find the sheer volume of annotations in that PR to be too much but if whittled down to only a few key uses, it could be a far more valuable approach.

    Reply

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