Interviewing is my passion. As a reporter and enthographer, I’ve held over 2,000 conversations with people about their work. After asking so many entrepreneurs about everything from what’s going well to what they’d like to improve on, I’ve noticed patterns, and have been able to help tell their stories through written content.
Businesses can use content marketing to help tell their own stories, too. Since 2007, I’ve worked as a tech journalist and helped to create content for sites like Fast Company, Wired, CBS Moneywatch and MIT Tech Review. I’ve learned that whether you’re a journalist writing an article or business marketing to customers, storytelling is important. It's the key to communicating with customers and readers in a meaningful way.
Here are a few tips I’ve shared with my own reporters to help strategize for and create content that resonates with viewers. See how my advice may work for your small business as well.
Find the problem you’re trying to solve.
Figure out how content can help your business solve a problem or overcome a stereotype. A construction company, for example, may want to show that their contractors are reliable and easy to work with. They might focus their content around customer relations. Think inspirational stories about how their contractors have helped to build homes their clients love, or have helped out after dramatic situations like natural disasters. This content would uplift readers and suggest that the construction company understands the value of human relations.
For a retail boutique, the problem may be more stylistic. How can a storefront business stand out on the Web? One content strategy might be curating pictures of pedestrians or celebrities who have agreeing styles with their brand, and posting these images on social media. Business owners or staff may accomplish this by shooting street photography themselves or by linking to fashion and style blogs.
Give guidance to your reporters.
This one is important if you’re interviewing an expert. The three things I encourage my reporters to do are to get original quotes from that person, pay attention to related message boards from his or her industry and fact check.
- Get original quotes. Most of online writing is just “blogging,” or someone writing without actually calling or emailing an expert. Coordinating time to chat and transcribe an interview can be hard, but it can be critical to adding value to your content. Incorporate meaningful, original quotes into your article or social post that represent your brand and will resonate with your audience.
- Pay attention to message boards. This one may be standard for new journalists but may not be done as often by the more traditional guard, who tend to rely on sources like surveys and polls. Message boards can be a quick way to find trends and hot topics of discussion in the industry you’re writing about—which may help keep your content relevant to customers and prospects.
- Fact check, fact check, fact check. Fact checking matters because errors may sour relationships. When you misspell people or company names, or associate their name with the wrong title, it can offend them and may discredit the reporting you worked so hard to complete.
Want more tips on content marketing? Watch Chris Dannen’s exclusive five-part video course here.