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A Journalist’s Eye

Friday5

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In an era where every company aspires to be a media company, it’s harder than ever to cut through the noise. Doing so requires a new understanding of the news and attention cycles, and being able to see stories through new eyes.

As a journalist, you learn that good stories aren’t static; they start conversations.

Below are five tips to look at stories as a journalist would.

  1. Get the story behind the story 

    Suppose you are going to announce a new product. This will get lots of positive coverage for a moment. How do you extend that moment to carry the brand’s narrative over time? Aim to get the information and anecdotes to put together a behind-the-scenes story that gives an inside glimpse into the key decision-makers, the high-stakes meetings, the intense debates, the highs and lows that got the company to this moment.

  1. Find the compelling character

    Powerful stories are personal stories. If you are going to announce a new paid paternity leave program, find an employee dad, whose spouse or partner is expecting their second child, and who experienced the stress of having to rush back to work the first time around.

  1. What’s the Visual?

    We live in a visual world where a powerful photo, video clip or data visualization is the story. Especially if it’s a data-heavy story, think about how that could come to life in quick visual shorthand or an engaging, interactive experience. If you have a paid budget, run an AB test to compare which visual performs best and optimize your campaign.

  1. Go Back and Revisit

    We often make an announcement, coverage follows and we move on. But what happens six months, a year down the road? If a company announces its adding 700 jobs to its Kansas City, Mo., plant; that’s not a moment. That’s an episodic story we should be following and telling through the eyes of workers, their families, their communities; and a year later, you have a compelling exclusive and a powerful tool to rally your employees internally.

  1. Surprise is Success

    Look for stories that defy stereotypes, are counterintuitive and defy the prevailing narrative about your company/industry. Where did you zig where others zagged? What has most surprised the company’s own stakeholders? Who was the unlikely hero in a crisis? When digging for stories, don’t look just for those that confirm your hypothesis— the gems are often the ones that defy it.

Nancy Jeffrey is an editorial director, Creative, Edelman New York.

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