Storytelling is the New Content Marketing

Connect to your audience through their humanity

A story I wrote and illustrated for Stroud Water Research Center was published verbatim in a regional magazine.

Advertising is intrusive, interruptive and self-centered, which is why advertisers often try to keep readers or viewer’s attention by using a humorous or sentimental human-centered mini-story as a framework to sell their products and services. Storytelling is even more important for branding a purpose-driven organization. A well-written, true story can be a powerful tool to educate, persuade and motivate your audience to take a specific action. Nothing engages an audience better than a compelling story. Moreover, really good stories can elicit a two-way conversation, and deepen relationship with your customers or donors, turning them into into brand evangelists.

Engage the heart, not just the brain

Effective storytelling doesn’t simply engage the brain with a dry recitation of facts and data. Stories are about people, their struggles and how they overcome and triumphed over them. This evokes emotion and invites your audience to connect on a human level.

To truly engage a reader, a story must be authentic, vivid and dramatic; it should combine a compelling narrative interwoven with useful, relevant information. Additionally, evoking the senses–sight, touch, taste, smell–will help draw your readers into the setting of your story and made them feel they are standing along side your protagonist. Newspaper and magazine editors call this “color.”

Speaking of color, be sure to have several well-composed, high quality pictures to illustrate your story.

Copyedit Carefully

Careless mistakes in grammar, syntax, spelling or punctuation can damage the credibility and share-ability of an otherwise good story. Readers may be distracted by careless mistakes and may even wonder if you have been equally reckless in getting your facts straight. Moreover, if you are trying to share your story through the news media, short staffed news outlets will not invest the time to clean up “sloppy copy.”

In addition to editing for correct English usage, noncompliance with a hosting publication’s accepted style can limit how broadly your story is shared. So find out in advance if the target host publication requires adherence to the Associated Press Stylebook, the Chicago Manual of Style or some other style guide to ensure your copy is polished and ready for publication.

Once you have established your long-form narrative, adapt it for sharing across multiple mediums in paid, earned, owned and shared media. Be aware that each one will require a different word count and different sized art.

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