Finding Great Content to Mark the Journey
By Nicole Neal, Communications Strategist, InVision Communications
In business, every piece of content shared is a part of your organization’s storyline and is essential to your brand communications and overall brand experience.
To the avid readers among us, nothing satisfies more than a great story. Rarely does a story take place in one static moment; it’s the retelling of multiple moments that draws us in. In those multiple moments, we experience where characters started, what they encountered, and how they overcame or were challenged by the barriers. We get to fall in love with, hate, appreciate and empathize with characters and appreciate the journey.
Content that sticks is a journey, with a storyline that pops up in various settings across different audiences. You may own the entire content journey or, if you’re an event owner or department head, just a piece of it, and everything from an email to the large-scale produced event is brand content. Understanding the kinds of stories to tell that support brand and business objectives help shape a storyline that connects the audience to a bigger picture.
Four Ways to Make an Impact With Content
1. Tell the business story.
Every year, your company’s brand and business objectives are outlined and likely communicated with a ton of fanfare. In a successful organization, they’re the constant pillar by which organization success is measured.
The business and brand story are the common denominators that connect your audiences. It’s where audiences place themselves in your story, which is why the most critical outcomes of telling the business story are trust and transparency. *Authors Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon wrote about leveraging eight key planks to a common platform:
- A sense of shared purpose and objectives.
- A sense of group identity and community.
- A common understanding of the challenges.
- A sense of urgency.
- A shared language system or common definition of key terms.
- A shared base of information to draw from.
- The capacity to discuss tough issues.
- Common frames through which to see the issues.
Source: Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations that Accelerate Change, by Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon
They suggest that when all eight planks are in place, the footing will feel sure and stable, more so than five solid planks and three wobbly ones. A sure-footed business story becomes the setting, the foundation for every other story that follows.
2. Tell the story of "why this moment?"
What does this moment in time mean? Whether it’s an event, an internal launch, a brand messaging moment, the timing of a specific communication – this is your opportunity to paint a picture or visualize for the audience how this moment meets the bigger picture.
Telling the audience why this matters now helps create the outcome of impact. Asking “what do we want?” and “what does this mean?” helps connect the dots for the audience without them having to work so hard to interpret what this moment means for them.
3. Tell a diverse story.
Telling a meaningful story is dependent on telling a story that matters to the audience, recognizing that your audience includes multiple stakeholders with different backgrounds and perspectives.
The outcome of a diverse story is inclusivity. Can your audience see themselves in your story, and do they see their role in how this story plays out over time? What will compel them to action? Unlike fiction, where we want to escape into another world. In our nonfiction world, audiences seek belonging. Is there a character in your story in which I can relate?
Plus, neuroscience supports it. Princeton neuroscientist Uri Hasson writes that “a story is the only way to activate parts in the brain so that a listener turns the story into their own idea and experience.”
4. Tell a complete story.
On our honor, we will resist the urge to put the entire story into one content moment. You can tell a complete story without telling the whole story. With this audience, which story is most critical to tell and the one you want them to act on at this moment? Tell that one, with the relevant details that connect with and inspire your audience and move them to action.
Beyond information to be shared, a complete story visualizes and demonstrates content and makes the outcome more tangible.
Remember how the witch used breadcrumbs to lead Hansel and Gretel to her lair? Think about the breadcrumbs as a journey of digestible content and experiences that inform, demonstrate, reinforce, and connect your audience to the story at hand.
A multi-touch engagement enables you to tell the story across multiple content moments, when it’s most relevant and when it’s most likely to resonate. While there’s no firm agreement on how many times people need to hear a message before they act – ranging from seven to 20, depending on the study – the fact remains that repetition and redundancy are key to acceptance of your message.
The media may change – town hall, intranet, corporate video, internal event, external event, text messages, emails and e-newsletters, an experience center – but the core of your message is rooted in the same intents: telling the transparent story of your business, taking advantage of this moment in time to demonstrate impact, meeting the needs of the multiple stakeholders and making it tangible enough that the audience wants more – more content, more connection and more inspiration to act.
Need help in pulling it all together? InVision has the full-service team to deliver. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org learn all about our content solutions offering.