“Good stories surprise us. They have compelling characters. They make us think, make us feel. They stick in our minds and help us remember ideas and concepts in a way that numbers and text on a slide with a bar graph don’t.” Read more
Most media and communications professionals have to write for their job at one point or another, and some are more writing-inclined than others. But everyone who writes will at one or more points be faced with a challenging writing project or stumble into some of the common writing pitfalls.
So, what are these pitfalls and how can you avoid and navigate them? Writing for the Content Marketing Institute Blog, Ann Handley examines the pitfalls through practical examples, and offers concrete solutions. Read more
Need more writing tips? Check out my previous blog posts below:
- Great writing tips for authors, bloggers, columnists and journalists
- 3 strategies for nurturing a content writer into an industry expert
- Six tips to conquer writer’s block
- #WritingTips: The first question to ask before you write
- Effective writing: getting the right feedback
Photo credit: Hometown Beauty, Flickr Creative Commons
Jeremy Koch: “The most effective approach to nonprofit marketing is simply telling great stories. Great stories have a vivid setting. Great stories have three-dimensional characters. Great stories are full of struggle and tension. And, most importantly, great stories are filled with emotion.
If you want your readers to listen to you, if you want your readers to learn something from you, if you want your readers to take action, then you need to tell them great stories.”
As they say in the marketing world, video is king. In other words, video content is rapidly growing in prominence as a key tool for effective communications (check out Contently’s survey results and this infographic from IMPACT). Video can engage audiences in ways other content options cannot, and producing video is getting much easier.
As a result, many organizations are jumping on the video bandwagon, but with minimal results. Why? Because they aren’t approaching video production in the right way.
In an article for Contently, Tallie Gabriel shares three dos and three don’ts for producing effective brand videos. Read the summary below or the full article here.
Do tell a unique story
“Even the most dry informational content needs to live within an engaging narrative—if you want anyone to pay attention,” says Gabriel, adding: “If the narrative naturally strikes an emotional chord, even better.”
Need inspiration? Check out the video below.
Do center your videos on human characters
Human stories, as opposed to abstract concepts and statistics, can do a better job in triggering our empathy and making us care.
Gabriel explains: “When we hear a statistic about a disease affecting tens of thousands, for example, it’s hard to conceptualize the size of that story. But when we’re told the story of one patient—her personality traits, family members, hobbies, and values, it’s much easier for us to feel for that single character.”
Do try something outside of the box
The internet is saturated with video, and there’s a lot of competition out there. Stand out by thinking outside of the box.
“Don’t be afraid to have fun and try things that may surprise your audience,” says Gabriel.
Need inspiration? Check out the video below.
Don’t show us talking heads
Gabriel says: “Featuring a human is great, but make sure this human is interesting and actually doing things in your video. Nothing will put an audience to sleep faster than a talking head (especially a talking head rambling on about technical jargon).”
Don’t cut corners when it comes to quality
“Whether it’s thanks to poor sound quality, unfortunate pixellation, or a strange color tone, consumers can tell if a video is low-budget,” says Gabriel. As a result, this may impact negatively on audience engagement. Producing quality video content may cost more than other communications activities, but the cost and time commitment can be truly worth it.
Don’t assume that because it’s a video, it’s automatically entertaining
Gabriel makes some important points:
“Too often, brands think that by creating a video, they’ve automatically made something interesting. But those of us who had to take a middle school health class know that video can all too easily be boring, or worse—uncomfortable. People generally give video two seconds before clicking away, especially on social platforms. If you don’t grab your audience within those two seconds, your video was just a giant waste of resources.
When creating video, you still have just as much responsibility to hook your audience with something they haven’t seen or heard before. Just make sure it’s something they want to be seeing.”
Bonus tip: Don’t assume video is the best solution, but Do use it as part of your larger, targeted communications strategy
Video is certainly on the rise and will be increasingly important and relevant in the future. But it certainly will not be the golden ticket or panacea for every context. Organizations should not be quick to jump on the bandwagon, but instead utilize appropriate strategies and channels that are suitable for their audiences and contexts.
In this article for Medium, Joshua Lasky explains:
“Great digital strategies are a mix of formats optimized for how audiences actually want to read, listen, and watch what you have to say. Before you publish on a subject, ask yourself if it would be easier for your audience to watch or read what you’re trying to communicate. Ask yourself whether a video should be the focus of, or a supplement to, your editorial coverage.”
All communications professionals are storytellers. With that in mind, it’s important to understand that a powerful, well-told story is the best tool for shifting people’s thinking and prompting them to act.
Many of us working in communications for good are looking for ways to enhance our storytelling impact. Enter Storytelling for Good, a new platform from the Communications Network that provides interactive lessons on strategy, content, engagement and evaluation.
Each lesson allows you to input information unique to your organization, and helps you devise a tailored storytelling strategy through a four-step process: defining your strategy, creating content, finding a platform, and evaluating impact.
The site also provides How To Guides on how to tell stories and measure impact on a variety of platforms, including email, Facebook, Medium, Twitter and Instagram.
You’ll also find a collection of case studies and articles that give insight into best practices, along with real world refections on what has worked well and what hasn’t.
It gets better: you can filter through all of this content by the specific goals you have in mind (whether it’s changing attitudes or raising awareness), or by themes and topics (like writing and engagement).