There’s a reason why many of us who work in content marketing are former journalists: the same editorial principles of sniffing out a story, finding an angle and thinking about a hook apply when creating content for a brand. Content is, after all, telling stories your audience wants or needs to hear, whether you’re the Financial Times or a leading business school.
I’ve always believed in the maxim that people are interested in people (and not just because I am nosy by nature). That’s why real stories of real experiences often appear in my content plans. It’s one thing for a faceless brand to tell you to do something. It’s another for one of your peers to explain how it positively affected their life.
There are stories everywhere waiting to be told – you’ll be surprised. Whether it’s a famous figure, a CEO, an entrepreneur, a student, a taxi driver or a man who thinks he’s a pirate (yes, actual interview), everyone has something interesting to say if you know how to ask.
Here are some of my tips for finding stories worth telling, then telling them well:
- Research, listen, dig and follow up. Spend time in the spaces where your audience lives, find out what they’re talking about and consider how you can contribute to the conversation. Aligning what a brand wants to say with what an audience wants to hear really is the magic formula.
- Start at the end. Think about the stories you want to tell and focus your research in those areas until you find the ones that fit.
- Strike the right balance. Does the story fit with your brand’s content themes? Have you included a variety of viewpoints? Is there a diversity of people as well as stories?
- Find your angle. Stories don’t need to be told in a linear way. It is more powerful to find a strong angle as your entry point – and don’t forget the all-important hook to grab attention and draw your audience in.
- Curate your own content. Sometimes you need to be selective to be effective. Think about what your audience needs or wants to know. Cherry-pick the key information and cut the waffle.
- Decide on format. How should the story be relayed to your audience? It could be a written piece (blog/article/listicle/long-form), a video (live action/vlog/animation), a graphic (infographic/illustrated stats), a broadcast (YouTube film/podcast/livestream), an interactive digital asset (quiz/poll) or something else. Many stories will lend themselves to a multitude of formats. Don’t forget that the same story can appear in different formats, putting the choice of media consumption into the hands of your audience.
For more top tips on curating your content, or content strategy, contact our Head of Content Sarah Miles at firstname.lastname@example.org