Approximately 83 percent of our reality is created by narratives. Although we live in a society in which facts and figures are the norm, research validates they are easily forgotten. That is why social security and phone numbers as well as license plates – all containing a throng of numbers -- are all chunked in three to four numbers, as our brains can only handle a few such facts at a time. However, stories are remembered. And when they are good, they are retold.
I had the pleasure of attending a workshop recently held by Danielle Gray, otherwise known as the Content Whisperer. Her case for looking at content development not merely as grids of content but as storytelling was a compelling one. She argued that your content should answer the following three questions, always, without fail: What? So what? And, now what? Do your tweets, eblasts and landing pages answer these questions?
Finding the content for these stories shouldn’t be as complicated as we often make it. Start first by conducting a content audit by reviewing existing articles, blogs, newsletters, industry publications, as well as content and materials produced by your members or clients. After listing all the content, separate it into categories, which helps you organize campaigns, and then identify a subject matter expert for each topic. After this review, take a step back and identify what is missing. Is there a topic that is timely that didn’t show up in your audit?
Repurposing content is also a great way to tell your story. One of the most overlooked ways is to change the medium, not the story. For example, can you turn that article into an infographic? Reformatting old content with a facelift is also a good source for stories! Other sources of content include proposals (can you expand on that safety message in your scope of work), event surveys or even presentations. Look for a key theme and craft your story around it, if the storyline doesn’t already exist.
Margaret Atwood, a popular storyteller who has become even more prominent in recent years as her book “Handmaid’s Tale” was turned into a mini-series, noted that storytelling is not simply the latest marketing fad. Rather, she stated, “You’re never going to kill storytelling, because it’s built in the human plan. We come with it.” By looking at your content in terms of narratives, you’ll better share your story.