The art of snackable storytelling
Communications professionals spend a significant portion of their days devising strategies to catch journalists’ attention by using a cleverly written pitch or enticing product launch to educate reporters about a brand marketing strategy when it comes to the latest products or services.
But, when it comes to content — whether the goal is leads, clicks or news coverage — there is actually a lot we can learn from journalists.
Content marketing is a core focus for brand marketing, but many still struggle with creating an effective brand marketing plan and generating and measuring ROI. In fact, while 77% of marketers planned to increase content production this year, 51% say their content efforts are only somewhat effective.
There are many reasons why content fails to meet our expectations. It may be poorly targeted, too self-serving, or product focused. As more brands begin deploying “owned” content channels, readers might find it to be too close to traditional advertising. All of these factors, however, have one thing in common: They are not engaging.
At the crux of this problem lies an essential difference between the content that professional writers or video journalists create to that of what ineffective marketers produce. Journalists develop content for their readers, while marketers — and often, PR professionals — develop content for brands. The former, naturally, establishes itself as more relevant and, as a result, more successful in engaging and activating the reader.
Content marketing agencies and integrated communications professionals must take a page from the journalists’ notepads and craft relevant content that tells a story.
Keep content marketing simple and to the point
During my first year working in broadcast news, my news director taught me a trick: Once I had read all of the relevant information about a story I was writing, I should then pretend I was quickly phoning my mom to share the news. The exercise automatically led me to the most relevant, compelling part of the story, which is a good place to start for any content that aims to impact the reader.
Content marketers should take a similar approach, identifying the facts, opinions and ideas that are most impactful for their readers. The next step is to weave that information into a story that maintains that engagement. Good storytelling goes beyond what is tangible, such as the functionality, features and benefits of your products or services and fosters a deep, emotional connection.
Develop brand marketing with an emotional connection
News outlets know that stories are most effective when they pull at the heartstrings, but the tactic can also be used by organizations interested in sharing the deeper message behind their brand.
Cisco’s documentary series “The Network Effect” demonstrated the real-life impact of mobile connectivity in the developing world. From the favelas of Brazil, to the remote corners of Africa, the videos painted a clear picture of how the network can change lives — a message with the potential to inspire a reaction, drive a connection and build brand recall.
[su_youtube url=”http://youtu.be/45Yd-xyVE7I?list=PLEB7CB3AF3EAC710E”]involve children[/su_youtube]
Not every story, however, has the same plot. Brands must customize their strategies to tell the story that best fits their audiences, whether it is serious, socially conscious or even fun and lighthearted.
For instance, GE boasts an impressive page on Pinterest, a platform typically associated with consumer brands. From its “biggest and baddest” technologies, factory photos, retro advertisements and even “gifts for geeks,” GE is demonstrating the indirect value its products bring to consumers’ lives in a direct way and injecting itself into new, relevant conversations that interest and engage its audience.
Marketers and communications professionals must strive to show they “get” their audiences, and that they are interested in being a part of a meaningful conversation. By putting readers first, ahead of the brand, content marketers can offer a strong sense of what the brand stands for, not just what it wants to sell. This helps establish a foundation for true loyalty and a relationship that holds the audience’s attention instead of just grabbing it fleetingly.