Tag Archives: storytelling

Theater Tales: ‘Book of Mormon,’ ‘Fun Home’ Storytelling Lessons

Book-of-Mormon-690x310fun_homeStorytelling thoughts from a recent trip to New York, where I caught a couple of master classes about character, point of view and theme on Broadway — both with some great songs, too.

“Book of Mormon” and “Fun Home” aren’t just Tony-winning musicals. They’re both fascinating examples of art that’s about art – in this case, writing about writing.

In “Mormon,” a young missionary has to wing it when Africans ask to hear the story of his religion’s, uhm, genesis. It’s funny and profane and super-tuneful – and his impromptu take on the meaning of life unexpectedly proves as inspiring as any version any believer could hope for.

With “Fun Home,” a woman looks back on her troubled father and, through her cartooning and writing, tries to make sense of her family chaos.

Both shows reveal themselves to be about the power of storytelling – how we all create or consume art to make sense of things we can’t understand. You laugh at “Mormon” and get goosebumps at “Fun Home.”

Walking around the Theater District, I couldn’t miss ads for “Wicked,” another musical about storytelling — about looking at one of the most famous characters of all time from a different point of view.

wizard_of_oz_0456_wicked_witch

Oh, she’s wicked, all right. And that’s enough for me.

I’ve never wanted to see it because, to me, the Wicked Witch of the West neither has nor needs a back story. She is evil, pure and simple. She wants to kill Dorothy to get the ruby slippers so she can rule Oz. That’s it.

Still, back in Atlanta, I saw the Alliance Theater’s production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and wondered what that tale  would look like from Nurse Ratched’s point of view.

Call me crazy.

All this reached its apex when I saw “Stupid F—ing Bird” at Actor’s Express in Atlanta’s West Midtown.

091815-bird_SFB-Prod-4

A scene from “Stupid F—ing Bird” at Actor’s Express

Theater folk can tell you it’s an update of Chekhov’s “The Seagull.” I can tell you it poses interesting questions about art and how much is too much – even whether we’d all be better off under a 100-year moratorium on the stuff.

“Bird” takes the self-gazing one step further, into meta-fiction. Characters address the audience and talk about the play they’re in. It’s amusing, maybe insightful, definitely an attempt to goose theatrical devices.

Turns out I didn’t have to fly to New York to find that.

And this is all good fodder for anyone writing anything. What’s a story? What material is presented? From whose point of view?

As communicators, what do we want the audience to feel, think or do?

Curtain up.


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13 Easy Tips for Better Storytelling, Content Marketing

Ann Handley, Content Rising, content marketing, Skyword, Tom Gerace, Robert McKee, storytelling, brand journalism, everything the light touches is content, The Lion King

As I like to say, “Stories are everything, and everything is content.” Thanks to Ann Handley for this clever way of putting it, which she shared at Content Rising in Boston.

What’s the difference between a story and a narrative?

Between a story and information?

And what does it mean to run #LikeAGirl?

Such were the questions about 300 content marketers, storytellers and other media pros discussed last week at a conference I attended in Boston. Content Rising, put on by the Boston-based Skyword agency, focused on how to engage audiences with useful, compelling content — articles, video, photos, social media and more. It was one of those energizing experiences you hope for from a professional gathering, with lots of smart people, goodwill and creative energy bouncing around.

I love how events like this get covered now via Twitter. It’s like having a roomful of reporters sharing best quotes and reactions. Here are 13 tweets from the experience that give a pretty good overview of what’s being discussed about content marketing and storytelling these days.

Marketing Stats amid the Media Evolution

Tom Gerace, founder and CEO of Skyword, opened with stats that show brands need to stop interrupting what consumers want and instead become what they want. Take a look at these photos. Marketers believe their work has changed more in the last two years than since the dawn of television. On Facebook, 15 billion pieces of content are posted each month.

Storytelling Tips from a Master

Robert McKee, a screenwriting coach and author on storytelling, shared some thoughts on what  a story is and is not — and pointed out that young adults and teen-agers are too smart for traditional, B.S. marketing that’s little more than bragging.

I love a wise curmudgeon who calls people on their B.S.

Finding Your Voice

Author Ann Handley is always thoughtful, engaging and entertaining. Handley says finding the right tone and voice is the “secret sauce” of effective content marketing.

Look for little opportunities to enliven such traditionally dull, perfunctory spots as the “About Us” page with copy that can be fun and deliver your brand voice.

Finally, A Few Words on Innovation

Dan Pallotta, inventor of multi-day AIDS and breast cancer walks, closed with some inspiring thoughts on innovation.


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6 Content Marketing Conferences to Learn from the Best

I went to Cleveland for a few days last September, and let me tell you, it was one of the best things I did all year.

(Go ahead. Insert Cleveland joke here.)

I decided to attend a conference, Content Marketing World, in a flash of inspiration. I had mulled going earlier, and when a new online friend and industry leader suggested I go, I snagged a cheap flight and a room at the venue hotel, and, before I could say “Get off of my blue suede shoes,” I was in the land of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

As a former journalist working in traditional corporate communications, I was jazzed to see so many examples of how to creatively, purposefully blend the two disciplines and others. With top authors, brands and social media represented, the conference has grown in attendance annually.

Business communicators of all kinds have been turning more and more to storytelling techniques, brand journalism and content marketing, and conferences like this are a great chance to learn from the best and mingle with peers. I stole ideas and made connections in Cleveland — with good, smart people in a supportive environment.

Similar events cover some of the same ground, and maybe this year I’ll plan ahead with one or more of these:

  1. Social Media Marketing World. March 25-27, San Diego. “Discover the best social media marketing techniques from the world’s top experts. Join 2,500 fellow marketers at the mega-conference designed to inspire and empower you with social media marketing ideas—brought to you by Social Media Examiner.”
  2. Create an award-winning newsroom: Boost influence, SEO and media coverage. This PR Daily Webinar is set for April 2. From the link: “The press, public and search engines will give your news massive reach — if your online newsroom features frequent updates and multimedia. Is yours up to speed?”

    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Supremes, Diana Ross

    No trip to Cleveland is complete without a tour of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and seeing what the original Dreamgirls (Diana, Mary and Flo of the Supremes) wore back in the day.

  3. Marketing United. April 29-May 1, Nashville. “The must-attend conference for modern marketers” features authors Ann Handley and Jay Baer, along with many more in Music City, home to the Country Music Hall of Fame. (Take that, Cleveland!)
  4. Creativity, Technology and the Future of Storytelling. “How do you tell amazing stories that are not just good, but inspire your audience, make life more interesting, and turn passive consumers into brand advocates?” May 14 in New York.
  5. Digital Summit Atlanta. May 19-20. “Join Digital Summit Atlanta for two days of leading-edge digital media and marketing content, mixed alongside top-flight networking with Internet execs, online marketers, entrepreneurs and digital strategists.”
  6. Content Marketing World 2015. Sept. 8-11. Cleveland. Yes, I might go back to see Joe Pulizzi, Robert Rose and the rest from the Content Marketing Institute. And not just because I had to race through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to make my flight back home…

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15 Reasons We Love Dishing on the Oscars

Host Neil Patrick Harris is set.

Host Neil Patrick Harris is set.

We love talking and reading about the Oscars as much as we love going to the movies, it seems. And as Oscar Night has morphed into Awards Season, there’s more to read about the Academy Awards than ever.

Here’s a list of 15 fun or smart pieces I’ve come upon recently, broken up into categories – from storytelling to fashion, from diversity to travel and parties.

DIVERSITY

All 20 acting nominees are white, and many observers complain that “Selma” was the victim of the mostly white Academy’s tendency to ignore achievements by African-Americans.

1. Oscar spotlight draws attention to movie industry’s failure to reflect a diverse America, from The Associated Press.

The lack of nominations for “Selma” director Ava DuVernay and star David Oyelowo were a particular flashpoint, viewed by many as unjust oversights not only because they merited honoring, but because their absences furthered an ignoble Oscar history.

2. Martyred genius Alan Turing of “The Imitation Game” spawned this piece: Why do gay characters have to die in order for actors to get Oscar nominations?

BRUTAL HONESTY FROM VOTERS

th-13. The Hollywood Reporter talked to a voter about “Selma,” who said, “There’s no art to it.”

4. And another who didn’t ‘get’ the movie “Birdman” and found  “Whiplash” offensive

MARKETING/STORYTELLING

5. How content marketers can learn from Hollywood’s menu of offerings, from the Spin Sucks column for marketing and PR pros.

Profits from big summer blockbusters and popcorn thrillers can help to offset smaller returns on indie films and niche documentaries.

Each type of movie content has its place in the overall scheme.

Just as production companies need to produce different types of movies, your content strategy needs to include different types of content.

6. How Marketers can win the Oscars.

No award show is bigger than the Oscars. Last year, 43 million people tuned in, earning it the largest nonsporting television audience since the finale of Friends. But the event isn’t just about a few hours on a TV screen. Through digital, audiences are engaging with the Academy Awards well before, during, and after the actual event. On Google alone, there were tens of millions of Oscar-related searches last year. It would likely take decades to watch the variety of Oscar-related content on YouTube. This all adds up to many new opportunities for brands to participate in these massive cultural moments beyond the telecast.

7. Do you trust your audience? Storytelling lessons from a great movie

JUST FOR FUN

Here's hoping for a bumpy night. (Notable loser: Bette Davis did not win for her greatest role, in "All About Eve.")

Here’s hoping for a bumpy night. (Notable loser: Bette Davis did not win for her greatest role, in “All About Eve.”)

8. How to throw an Oscar party — my piece on Coca-Cola’s Journey site.

9. From The New York Times, 8 trips inspired by Oscar-nominated films – including a visit to The Martin Luther king, Jr., National Historic Site in Atlanta.

10. How movie fans are voting on Twitter.

11. A look inside the swag bags worth $167,000 that even the losers get.

12. Download the nominated scripts for free.

13. From Groot to Godzilla, Visual Effects Oscar Hopefuls Reveal Their CG Secrets.

LOOKING BACK

14. Harper’s Bazaar has pictures of all the Best Actress dresses through the decades.

15. Oscar has had his regrets, particularly about ‘Crash’ — Academy members reassess past Oscar decisions.


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Why Social Media Storytelling is Like a Good Burger

PRSA, Georgia, Atlanta, Maggiano's, public relations, internal communications, business communications, social media, storytelling, facebook, twitter, instagram, children's hospital of atlanta, fleishmanHillard, Georgia Tech, Tech

My burger of choice is at Yeah! Burger, and here Steven Norris and I disagree. He’s more a Bocado man.

I love a good burger and I love storytelling. But it took a Georgia Tech social media pro to connect them for me today.

Social media storytelling is a lot like a good burger, Steven Norris said at a panel discussion sponsored by the Georgia chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. A burger should be handcrafted, authentic and multi-layered, just like many stories told via social media. Different channels are like various toppings and condiments — with content being the meat patty and analytics the bun.

I like the idea, largely because it puts content as the centerpiece, regardless of, say, condiments or toppings. It will vary from project to project whether we employ chiefly Twitter, Facebook, any of the others or a combination of some of them. Maybe you lead with a nice slice of American cheese, squirt on a little ketchup and mustard and add some pickle slices today. Tomorrow, you keep it to a simple double-stack with mayo and lettuce. Wrap it all up in fresh-baked analytics, and you’re good to go.

PRSA, Georgia, Atlanta, Maggiano's, public relations, internal communications, business communications, social media, storytelling, facebook, twitter, instagram, children's hospital of atlanta, fleishmanHillard, Georgia Tech, Tech

Maria Jewett and Meg Flynn, with Steven Norris’s slide on the social media storytelling/burger recipe.

You get what he meant.

Some other nice moments from him and the other two panelists:

  • Steven: Any good social media post drives readers back to your website.
  • Maria Jewett of FleishmanHillard: “Having a great cause and having a great story will help your brand grow.”
  • Maria: “I am the editor of my own personal story and so are all of you” — and it’s not much different working for brands or companies.
  • Meg Flynn of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta: It’s better to focus on original content (including images) than repurpose marketing material and stock photos.

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27 Writing, Editing Tips for Better Content

Never Say Never, Sean Connery, things to never write or say, jay croft, storycroft, atlanta, communications,

Never, Mr. Bond?

We talk a lot about storytelling and content in business communications, marketing, websites and social media. The conversation is often about the Big Picture, and that’s important, of course. But strategies and UX studies won’t help us if our content isn’t as good as it can be.

Even the little things can turn people off.

If you want your content consumed, understood and shared, here are 27 things you must never do.

 

 

1. Never start a communications project without knowing what you’re trying to say, to whom and why. Talk it out.

2. Never oversell. In headlines and links, don’t promise too much excitement or information. (Nobody likes click bait.) In text, avoid overused adjectives like “amazing,” exclamation points and all-caps.

3. Never assume people already know what you’re sharing about. Or where your photo was shot. Or why they should keep watching your video.

4. Never be needlessly negative. It’s easy to be snarky. But it’s better to be useful and helpful.

5. Never forget to do basic research or to confirm what you’ve heard or read. In the Internet age, we’re all instant experts on everything. Except that we’re not. And you don’t want to be caught reacting to something that turns out to be a hoax.

Grammar meme6. Never let a reader doubt you know “it’s” from “its” or “your” from “you’re.”

7. Never dump your notebook. You have to make choices. You have to focus.

8. Never try to turn perfectly fine verbs into nouns. “Ask” is something you do, not something you add to an agenda. And it’s the same thing in reverse. When discussing a challenge, do not say, “The way we’re going to solution that problem…”

9. Never start a sentence with “I think” or “I feel” or “I believe.” If you write those phrases, see how the sentence reads or sounds without them. Better, almost always.

10. Never say “uh,” “like” or “you know” too much. Or this new entry into the genre, “again,” when you are not actually repeating anything. I’m not sure when that one became common. Listen for it. Let me know if you notice it.

11. Never waste space by metaphorically clearing your throat. Sometimes we want to warm up for a while, back into a story or a point before stating our business. It’s natural sometimes, so go ahead and write all that you need to. And then delete it.

12. Never write headlines full of words that can be verbs and nouns. Readers don’t want to struggle to make sense of a headline.

kill-your-darlings-150x15013. Never fall in love with a phrase, design or image for its own sake. You’ve heard the expression “Kill your darlings.” Yep. You gotta.

14. Never forget to follow a style guide. AP, Chicago, whatever. Consistency is key. It also helps you write faster.

15. Never publish without having proofread, paying special attention to figures and proper nouns.

16. Never confuse proofreading with editing. Do both or find someone who can. (Here are some tips from a master.)

17. Never write or say anything like, “As anyone who knows me can tell you…”

18. Never get political unless that’s your point. Why turn off a substantial portion of your audience?

26715619. Never use too many figures in a sentence or paragraph. Break them up or put them into a graphic, chart or link.

20. Never be crass or vulgar. Avoid using profanity and showing skin. Even in a tweet or status update.

21. Never use a new digital tool just to show that you can. Or publish images or quotes or outrageous things just because you can.

22. Never undermine your presentation with heavy-handed marketing. Ease up and let the content do its thing.

23. Never tell me something is ironic. Especially if you graduated from the Alanis Morissette School for Wayward Pop Stars.

24. Never pile on the acronyms. It’s like saying, “Call that guy about the place where they have the thing and tell him what I’m thinking.”

25. Never call a car crash tragic. Never call the natural death of an old person tragic. Never call something tragic unless it actually is. And then make sure you have a good reason for pointing it out.

26. Never use upspeak. If it’s not a question, don’t say it like it is.

27.  Never say never? Never.


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Dazzling Diversity: 6 Exciting Examples of Visual Storytelling

One of the great things about visual storytelling online is the diversity of sources, styles and lengths you find every day. Some are meant to inform, some to drive business and some to amuse.

Here are six that caught my eye recently. They illustrate just a bit of the inspiring range available to us, no matter what story we’re telling or why.

Plus, they’re fun.

Enjoy these, and share some examples you’ve seen or produced.

New-York-Times-Temperature-Rising1. Temperature Rising – Flipboard, The New York Times. Just one example of a publication putting Flipboard to great use. The Times presents stunning photography and great reporting in the magazine-like display, so the sweep of its coverage is relevant, manageable and engaging.

2. Four Seasons Magazine.com – by Pace. I love everything that comes out of Pace, the award-winning digital marketing agency based in Greensboro, N.C. And this digital magazine is not only beautiful, smart and useful — but Pace is finding measurable success with its multi-channel content programs.

vatican, sistene chapel, virtual tour3. Virtual Tour of the Sistene Chapel – by The Vatican. Yes, The Vatican presents this dazzling interactive look at one of the world’s most dazzling buildings, with zoomable and 360-degree views. Nice intro here at venturebeat.com.

4. “Not a Bad Thing” music video – by Justin Timberlake. The singer asked fans to tweet him about their own love stories using hashtag #notabadlovestory — and he incorporated dozens into his latest release.

5. A ‘Field of Dreams’ for Anchorage’s Rugby Players – video on Alaska Dispatch. Beautiful scenery, odd house, harebrained idea. Alaska will never be a rugby base. But so what? It’s Alaska — beautiful, odd and home to a few harebrained ideas.

Brad-Paisley-Westboro6. Brad Paisley’s selfie. The Westboro Baptist Church infamously protests funerals of U.S. soldiers and gay or gay-friendly people. When Paisley, one of country’s biggest stars for many years,  found his own concert to be targeted, he decided to take a pre-concert photo and share it on Instagram.

 

 

 

 


 

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What’s His Story: Former City Hall Reporter Now Represents Atlanta Mayor

Carlos Campos, Atlanta, mayor, kasim reed, spokesman, police, news, newspaper reporter, AJC, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Carlos Campos, interim spokesman for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed

Carlos Campos has been on both sides of publicly told stories, first as a journalist and now as a government spokesman, which gives him a rare point of view about how tales are shaped and shared. For many years, Carlos was a top reporter at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where his beats included Atlanta City Hall (and where, full disclosure, he and I became friends). But now, after a stint at a public relations firm, Carlos works for the city he used to cover. He was  the spokesman for the Atlanta Police Department starting in 2009, and then was named interim communications director for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed last fall.

You’ve been a storyteller, an advocate and now, frequently, a subject in stories that are shared publicly. Which plays the biggest role in telling a story?

Stories are always told through the eyes of the storyteller — and that’s not a criticism of any storyteller. It’s just the immutable truth. Having been on so many different sides of a story, I’ve  seen them told from a number of angles. I don’t know who coined the phrase, but it’s one of my favorites: “There are three sides to every story. Yours, mine and the truth.” Every story will have holes in it, often created by how we see it. Storytellers have a tremendous amount of power that comes with an obligation to seek the closest approximation to truth as possible.

As a reader, do you like print or digital?

I’ve always enjoyed books and newspapers. But I have adapted to the Digital Age. I can appreciate the nostalgia that some hold for the feeling of holding a book or a newspaper. For me, the ability to access hundreds and thousands of books and newspapers via a single electronic device is nothing short of amazing.

Favorite blog or website?

Snopes.com investigates urban legends, which have always fascinated me — how they get started, how they grow. It’s my go-to site whenever I see some absurd claim, which almost always turns out to be false.

Favorite story or storyteller?

Jon Krakauer’s book on the Everest disaster, “Into Thin Air,” is absolutely compelling from the first sentence. I have a short attention span, so I need authors who grab me by the throat very early on.

Favorite journey?

Cuban-mapWell, I would have to say “Don’t Stop Believin’.” … Oh wait … My favorite journey was in 2000 back to my homeland, Cuba. It was bittersweet. It was beautiful to see relatives – aunts, uncles, cousins – I had never met before and to experience the culture and people. But it was immensely sad to see the poverty and government oppression. At least my relatives know nothing else, and their spirit has not been killed.

Your Own Go-To Story:

I was born in a poor nation to parents of limited means. We are living the American dream; we came to this country with nothing and have had an opportunity to become educated, graduate from college, own a home, hold good jobs and pursue life, liberty and happiness. Yes, it’s about as corny a story as you will ever hear. But it is my truth — one that I fully embrace.

Carlos Campos, Kasim Reed, spokesman, Atlanta mayor, journal-constitution, arc

Carlos Campos with his family, including wife, Asa, to his left, and his parents on either end of the table.

 

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“The Lego Movie” Takes Brand Marketing to New Lengths — With Plenty of Surprises

The Lego Movie, Lego, Atlanta, movies, animation, cartoon, computer animation, graphics

“The Lego Movie” — so much more than you think.

I can’t be the only one completely surprised by the phenomenal success of “The Lego Movie.” It’s been No. 1 at the box office for two weekends in a row, maintaining its share in the second week when most movies, even most hits, lose steam. Success begets success; the curiosity got the best of me and I saw it Tuesday at Atlantic Station.

As a movie, it’s not bad. Certainly better than anyone could have expected – and much better than most animated features of late. It falls short of the grace of, say, “Toy Story,” but it’s more heartfelt and smart and entertaining than “Hotel Transylvania.”

As for the idea of a brand being turned into a feature? Well, it struck me as awfully cynical and made me think “The Lego Movie” would be a cheap, tacky stunt – not the actual, full-blooded (and pretty good) flick that it is.

Visually, it’s spectacular, maybe a game-changer, richer and poppier and more colorful than any animated feature I can recall … my head was spinning at the end credits. And the story is a serviceable if predictable mish-mash of pieces from other movies (I stopped counting after “Star Wars,” “The Matrix” and “Transformers”) and a heartwarming-enough thematic flourish at the end that adds a self-aware bit of meta-marketing but doesn’t trample on the story.

Throughout are many little bits of funny business, eye candy, wit and heart – verbal and visual – that no one could have expected out of such a huge commercial undertaking.

In short, there’s a lot of individuality and expression throughout “The Lego Movie,” and that’s the lesson for corporate storytellers and brand marketers. Even when every computer-generated frame is meticulously planned and hermetically created, you still can delight audiences with unexpected flourishes that break through the machinery and, yes, serve the brand.

Commerce and art… branding and storytelling… Nothing new, of course, from Hollywood. But “The Lego Movie” might be a touchstone, or at least a very Right Now Moment, that communicators of all kinds can learn from. It’s definitely not just one more tired example of laziness and greed disguised as something more.

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And Now a Word about Words: 6 Useful Points on Storytelling, Content, Brand Journalism…

Jay Croft, Atlanta, writer, newspaper, Journal-Constitution, Cox Enterprises, storytelling, corporate communications, content, gay, pop culture, movies, music, TV, Poncey-Highland, Virginia-Highland, Inman Park, Old Fourth Ward, who is a good writer in Atlanta, public relations, marketing, social media expert

Jay Croft

I used to be a journalist. Hard-news reporter, then a website and features editor. At daily newspapers, for a long time. Later, in corporate communications, I learned how to create and share information in a corporate setting.

Today, communicators in businesses, social media, public relations and marketing like to talk about content, storytelling and brand journalism. Which is great — because I love it all and it makes complete sense within broader technological and economic changes in our line of work — and it makes my dual background ideally useful in today’s communications world.

But terms get tossed around so loosely that I’m not always sure everyone’s using the same definitions. Here are a few examples I’ve found recently that state things well. I’ve edited for brevity, redundancies and clarity.

1. From ‘Just What the Hell is Content?’ on Loyalty360.org

Content includes words, images, video, and physical stuff. Content is everywhere. In law firms, it’s in boxes. In architectural firms, it’s made from balsa wood or CAD drawings. At my firm, it’s often in people’s heads.

There’s no difference between a website and content. Why do you have a web site? What’s it for? Or that mobile site? Or that app?

Content is singular in its purpose: to achieve a desired result for as many relevant people as possible.

2. From ‘Content Marketing – What Kind of Content are we Talking about?’ on exploreB2B

The list of possibilities for content you can use in content marketing is literally endless. As the success of content marketing strongly depends on the content you provide, use your imagination. Your content should stand out from the masses, provide something new and unique.

(A list of 10 suggestions follows. Being an old reporter, I like No. 9.)

Interview someone who can give your readers, and possible customers, some insight – use the questions to direct the content into your chosen direction and show with intelligent questions your knowledge on the topic.

3. From ‘The narrative is the thing: the art of corporate storytelling,’ on ZDNet

All the stakeholders of an organization—customers, employees, investors, partners, vendors, and yes, even competitors—are telling some aspect of the story of the brand.

The issue? They’re not always talking about the same thing.

How do you get everyone on the same page? The corporate narrative provides the framework. It is a story that embodies the essence of your business in action, comprised of more than just products and services, and more even than your mission statement. It’s what your company stands for, and how it’s making the world a better place. It’s a story that comprises your strengths AND your weaknesses.

4. From ‘Publishing Is The New Marketing: Epic Content Marketing,’ on  Loyalty360.org

Some businesses think storytelling is about explaining what you sell or telling people what you do. But effective storytelling explains what you do for your customers. The power of stories lies in making the reader and the consumer part of the story.

I wrote the foreword for Joe Pulizzi’s book “Epic Content Marketing.” In it, Joe states that “Publishing is the new marketing.” As it is the only way to “cut through the noise, commotion and bad information that is right now cluttering up your customer’s digital space.”

If we think and act like a publisher, we will create more of the content our customers are looking for. And LESS of the content they ignore. One of the biggest challenges in content marketing is to put the needs of our customers ahead of our own and to tell stories that connect with people.

Identify your potential customers’ top questions. At a minimum, your content should be helpful. Ideally, try to even entertain them.

5. From ‘A Meeting of the Minds: Content Strategy for Great Storytelling,’ from Pace

(This is the best writing I’ve seen on the subject, from the North Carolina-based agency Pace, winner of the 2013 Content Marketing Agency of the Year from the Content Marketing Awards. Do yourself a favor and click through to the white paper. It’s clear, compelling, useful and entertaining.)

What role does content strategy play in content marketing and brand storytelling? How much content strategy does a brand need? And, oh, by the way, what is content strategy?

The Pace approach to content strategy:
At Pace, content strategy is the carefully conceived and developed plan by which the substance of a brand message is communicated—in various formats via selected platforms—for the purpose of informing and inspiring a target audience to act, thereby achieving a stated business goal or objective.

The role of content strategy in Pace’s content marketing business:
Our methodology puts content strategy (processes, structures and technology) in the service of content marketing (great storytelling), rather than the other way around.

6. From ‘How is brand journalism different from marketing?’ on shiftcomm.com

You could also make the very valid argument that brands have always used journalism-like tactics to promote their own stuff. Marketers invented the advertorial and infotainment, after all. In those cases, that’s not really journalism so much as paid media. That’s not what brand journalism appears to be, however. We’re seeing brands trying to become the media, and attempt to be true, actual media sources. This is partly what differentiates brand journalism from standard content marketing and inbound marketing – brands are seeking in some cases to become media sources that consumers would choose to consume independently, even if it’s not directly related to the brand’s product offerings. That makes brand journalism a true force to be reckoned with.

(For a world-class example of this, look no further than Atlanta’s own Coca-Cola. Its website is as fun and compelling as those of many general-interest publications, with original content on restaurants gearing up for Valentine’s Day, the Olympics, recipes, sustainability and lots more.)

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