Why Storytelling Matters to a Company’s Digital Voice
By Sam Diaz
Every day, people share stories with each other about experiences, encounters or other memorable moments of life. It’s human nature. But the way we tell our stories - even the same story over and over again - can vary, based on factors such as makeup of the audience, their levels of interest or even time constraints.
We don’t really give much thought to how we alter our storytelling techniques for different scenarios. We just do it - using simple language when sharing a funny story with a child, leaving out some personal details if we’re sharing with a co-worker or even embellishing a bit amongst a small group of close friends. In-person, we adjust our stories for different audiences.
That’s an important point to remember, especially for companies or organizations that are now telling their own stories on digital platforms, developing original content that’s intended to raise brand awareness and position executives as thought leaders. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this type of content, no matter the industry, but taking time to identify the target audience and develop an appropriate content strategy will lead to greater results.
Face-to-face, a friend or co-worker might tolerate a long-winded story just to be polite. But on digital platforms, audiences aren’t known for their patience. Unless the digital audience is truly engaged with the topic or the company, visitors can easily click away when the content gets bogged down with too many details or the message gets lost among all of the self-serving accolades.
As part of their public relations strategies, companies still view “media coverage” as a primary objective - and for good reason. Media outlets continue to have greater reach and influence than companies do when it comes to providing information about brands or products. But media outlets also have greater control over how much of a company’s message actually reaches their audiences - and that often shrinks as journalists strive to create content that’s not only accurate, engaging and informative but also fair and balanced - to competitors, disruptors and other industry forces.
To maintain their own credibility, business journalists need to have a solid understanding of the topics they cover. To stay informed, they constantly consume information and seek out new insights and perspectives about the industry as a way to stay in the loop on market leaders and emerging disruptors and broaden their understanding of the forces that drive business trends.
In today’s environment of shrinking newsrooms and non-stop news cycles, journalists may not always have the time to sit-down for an executive briefing. But they are likely to click on a link to a product blog, executive thought leadership post or company podcast - so long as there’s some value in it.
And that brings us back to our storytelling techniques.
Press releases provide information but “stories” tell us why that information matters and how it impacts a market or a company’s performance. The stories should help us understand the information and explain its relevance to something - whether it’s an industry, an economy or even just a community.
When content is focused more on what the reader gets out of it, instead of what the company puts it into it, its value is stronger. And if journalists just happen to stumble upon it along the way, they may be inclined to quote from it, link to it, share it with their followers and maybe even reach out for an executive briefing to learn more.
If that eventually leads to media coverage, imagine what a great story that will make to share with the rest of the team.
Sam Diaz is the head of content for Blanc & Otus, a role that taps into his background as both a longtime technology journalist and a corporate communications professional. He works across the full B&O client portfolio, developing content strategies around product announcements, events, technology campaigns and business and social issues. Learn more about Sam and the rest of the B&O team at BlancandOtus.com.