How to write your earnings release for the Associated Press’ automatic reporting engine

Last week, a very interesting question was posed by a client: “Do I need to write my earnings release in any special manner to facilitate better quality reporting by the Associated Press’ (AP) automated journalists?”

The short answer: “No.”

AP_robot

Here’s the long answer:

Working backwards from the AP, we contacted Automated Insights, the company that developed the Wordsmith application behind the AP robo-reporters. Wordsmith is an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that generates human-sounding narrative articles from raw data. The AI stories sound like a person crafted each one of them individually.

After a brief exchange with Automated Insights’ head of communications, James Kotecki, he sent us over to Bryant Sheehy, Director of Business Development at Zacks Investment Research. Zacks’ research is trusted by dozens of financial portals including Yahoo!, MarketWatch, NASDAQ, Forbes and Morningstar. Zacks is where the raw data originates

Now we are at the core of the question. How does Zacks’ extract data from your earnings release? They read it. With actual eyeballs. Owned by actual people. Those actual people then manually enter your numbers into a database.

Only the writing aspect of the AP process is automated, not the data parsing. At its simplest, the Wordsmith application is a “form letter,” however the sophistication of the AI creates very readable content on an immense scale. It has hundreds of applications including sports reporting and personalized customer letters.

Points to be aware of:

The data most coveted in your earning release is the GAAP reporting of Net Income, EPS and Total Revenue. The more buried these numbers are, the slower the reporting. Sheehy commented that with a clear and obvious presentation of your GAPP numbers, your earnings data can be at the APs robo-fingers between 2 – 5 minutes. If your release is still placing prominence on non-GAAP, research can take up to 30 minutes – especially if a web disclosure model is used and researchers need to navigate to the IR website. He did add that the research team does learn, quarter-to-quarter, how each issuer publishes their numbers which aids in increasing speed.

A final thought is that, thanks to the SEC’s newest guidelines (read here) regarding GAAP and non-GAAP reporting, the research team at Zacks will have an easier time getting your results into Wordsmith, into the AP newsfeed and quickly and transparently out to shareholders.

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