Fintech firm Carta is on a mission to create more equity owners. It’s doing so with a suite of software tools designed to help companies manage their equity more efficiently, but its brand publishing operation is also playing a crucial role in educating founders, investors and employees about the often-confusing world of equity.
Carta’s editorial operation now publishes a range of articles, podcasts, guides and other resources designed to make founders’ lives easier, help investors achieve their goals, and make equity basics a little less daunting for the average employee. Its editorial team is run by former Ellevest editor-in-chief and SheKnows executive editorial director Julie Ross Godar, who manages a team of reporters, data journalists and content strategists who work within the company’s wider marketing team.
Toolkits chatted with Godar to unpack Carta’s brand publishing strategy, how it organizes its editorial teams, and why it relies on former journalists to ensure quality and efficiency.
Who are you trying to reach with Carta’s publication?
Godar: “We have a lot of audiences. The first are employees of companies. They are the ones that interact with Carta the most. They’re the biggest audience that they have. Then we have company deciders: founders, CFOs, CHROs. Lastly, we have VC firms. There are other ancillary audiences: policy influencers, law firms, etc. But those three are the trio of audiences we talk to. Equity is hard to understand. Post-termination exercises, when you leave a company, are hard to understand. So when we first started creating content the emphasis was to tell people about our products and company.”
So where do you start with the brand publishing strategy?
“We start with what’s helpful to people, because it reaps business rewards, by building a audience base for our specific products. We identified personas and identified problems they had, to give them useful and valuable data to help them. We pointed out the differences and consequences of the decisions they were making. And then we have the actual brand journalism, which is multi-sourced, reported and is more about trends across the VC ecosystem rather than directed to a specific persona audience.”
How do you ensure what you’re doing is of high quality?
“The test is: Is it helpful? They need to understand that we’re not just publishing content to help our brand, but also to help them. If they don’t, the piece of content isn’t working. Most content marketing doesn’t have that sort of journalistic assiduousness. And that in my opinion is how you build trust. Everyone knows you’re [writing this content] for yourself. They know this is a brand. You don’t have to pretend. You need to know that you are positioned to do this and it serves your needs if everyone is educated on this stuff. For Carta that works out extra well, because we have more data than Pitchbook, or TechCrunch, or the traditional publications. And it’s credible. So we took that, hired a director of insights, and I hired a data storyteller, to take data we have and give stories to it and tell people.”
Data is an advantage for some brands. What are some other things brand publishers can leverage in a way traditional newsrooms can’t?
“I feel like in my career, it’s flipped. People used to suspect brands of having nefarious ulterior motives. And now, they rather suspect the media of that. Especially when somebody has had a good experience with the brand, they’re going to bring that trust to the content. There’s pressure for brands to go deep now. I mean, just the depths of knowledge that is contained in the subject matter experts that I talk to for Carta and make content with every day, it’s just like: How much would it cost to put all those people on the masthead? You would have to be a really, really dogged reporter to forge these relationships. Whereas here they come the minute this person gets hired.”
How do you balance distribution of editorial content with all the other product, marketing that has to be done?
“Ultimately our content is in the service of the product. So there can be this erroneous idea that we need to be talking about the product 24/7. Brands have a lot of other things that they need to tell their audience. So there’s a little bit of a bottleneck to what we can say via email to our customers who are already getting a million emails about transactions and stuff. So we have had to do more with social media.”
How have you structured your team?
“I’ve created part traditional newsroom and part traditional marketing team. We have basically broken it out into editor-controlled beats, where I and another editor share both strategy and line-editing duties. We have a few writers reporting up to both of us. And we also have a content strategist who is there to provide strategy for our customer storytelling and our people storytelling. That person strategizes how to build a community through our content.”
Do people inside the company pitch you?
“Yes. People pitch us because they feel we don’t talk about their product. Or someone pitched a piece about pay transparency. Or someone pitched us a piece on VC in Austin. And also, our cross-functional marketing teams talk to nearly every other team at Carta. And we also have our data storyteller who works with our head of insights to look at Carta data and find stories.”
One of the things that trip brands up often are reviews. How have you tried to make things more efficient?
“We’re an extraordinarily productive team because people who come to Carta came from journalism backgrounds. And they do say – OK, it feels like everything I write takes a long time. So we spent a lot of time trying to make things faster. One thing we did is that the legal team has now buckets of content. So some buckets, they don’t need a review. Another bucket doesn’t need an executive review. There’s green, yellow and red. And I’ve also streamlined what the legal team does: They no longer need to fact-check us, or check our sources. I basically said, look, I’ve got this, don’t worry about it.”