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Let an editor loose – and succeed in your storytelling

Published April 21, 2022, 12:29 p.m. by Malin Dahlberg

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So, you’ve decided to use storytelling to cut through the noise. To show what the company stands for, showcase everyday heroes, describing events and decisions. A good choice. Now you just need a good editor to start digging for gold!

Telling true stories is a great way to give your brand personality. If done well, you can make real friends with your audience. Now all that remains is to find the exciting stories hidden in your organization. Which is actually harder than it sounds.

Learn how to identify the story

The trick is to identify a great story, which can take some time to master. So, if you want to succeed in your storytelling, you need an experienced editor. You might be thinking, “We have a communications department. Surely they can handle this.” Maybe, but probably not. There is a difference between creating information and stories that make us stop short.

A skilled editor doesn’t quit

A good editor is like a bloodhound. Does. Not. Give. Up. Not until those unexpected, heart-warming, funny or exciting stories are tracked down and given the right angle. Another advantage is that you steer clear of an inside-out perspective. An external editor can sidestep anxious opinions, such as, “perhaps our CEO should be involved”, or “we must feature all departments”. For the best result, give the editor free rein!

Don’t count on the managers to have the answers

A common mistake is to arrange a workshop with HR and various department managers. But this is not where storytelling magic happens. So instead, provide your editor with a phone list of people working at the grassroots level. And prepare to be amazed at their stories.

Learn to think like an editor – 5 tips

  1. “What's this really about?” It’s a question that every editor asks several times a day. What makes this story unique? Does it solve a problem? What is the news value? Who can flesh out the story? Find the story hook and reel in a captivated audience.
  2. Preconceptions don’t belong in the editor toolkit. From a storytelling perspective, it might well be that the company cleaners have a more compelling story to tell than the vice president. Search high and low, ask open-ended questions and listen attentively, and the everyday heroes will line up.
  3. Don't listen to everybody. When planning content, it’s easy to get lost among the company’s various stakeholders and interest groups. Everybody wants to be involved. It’s not an ideal starting point for your storytelling. Let the story’s strength decide and be immune to opinions – just like a good editor.
  4. Apply a channel strategy. A good story will get you far. But it must also be adapted to the right channel. So take some time to consider if the story works best like a film or an article or something else. Should it be part of a series? What are the best pictures to go with it?
  5. Small things often carry unexpected power. As humans, we’re attracted by authentic, down-to-earth stories that we recognize. So, look for minor workday details rather than grand projects and ventures. Invite the reader on a journey. How does it feel, how does it sound, how does it smell? Suddenly you have a committed audience who want to know more.

Malin Dahlberg, content manager, editor and bloodhound at Spoon

malin.dahlberg@spoon.se

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