Have you shared a coke with a friend?

If you didn’t #ShareACoke, maybe you were tempted to join the #IceBucketChallenge or felt #LikeAGirl for just a second. Either way, it’s clear that over the past few years we have witnessed storytelling becoming one of the top marketing strategies used by businesses. It’s a versatile technique that everyone can use, because it only requires imagination and creativity, not money.

With storytelling being hotter than ever, we couldn’t help wondering what hides behind a great story. So we added an event on “Storytelling in the digital age”  to the calendar of the Hyperthinker series. On May 3rd, we talked to Kate Day, Editorial Director; and Bennett Richardson, Executive Director of Advertising & Business Development, from POLITICO Europe. Following a short introduction by Phil Weiss, they shared their ideas about what makes a great story.

What makes a story worth telling?

Kate started her career as a reporter in Silicon Valley and, not surprisingly, soon became fascinated with digital technology. Later on, as she became the first Social Media Editor for The Telegraph, she understood how to pass your message further in a mobile, social and digitally interactive era. Her secret? Know your audience.

Kate Day

She explained how for her the main priority is to understand her audience and tailor the stories accordingly. The audience is a series of bubbles, as people have different interests that intersect at some point. At POLITICO, they aim to reach where the bubbles intersect to build their audience and ensure its loyalty. Another important factor, especially in Europe, is nationality. Nationality is a strong indicator of the relevance a story to your audience because everybody in  national bubble has the same frame of reference. If the essence of the story is of interest, the story becomes shareable and, possibly, of national interest. The downside of the tip was revealed when Kate advised to avoid competing with national media if your target is multi-national.

Another interesting insight we talked about was related to the scale of the audience. A huge audience doesn’t mean that much if it is not backed up by a strong community. There will always be audience peaks when news breaks, but you need to make sure you are working on building a community if you aim at generating successful stories for the long-term.

Once your community is established, you also need to keep giving them interesting stories. This is why the next tip from Kate would be to make sure you share stories with more or less the same frequency – and then follow up to keep the audience interested.

Finally, in the digital era it’s important you understand the platforms you use. Facebook, for example, is a massive driver, but you need to use it right to make sure you are reaching the right people. Still, if your piece is good, it will work on any platform. It doesn’t have to be international headline news as long as it’s something that really matters or you get a scoop. If you also make sure that you use humour, visual materials and translate in enough languages to appeal to the community, you’ve just got yourself a great story.

The conversations continued until late, as we enjoyed a glass of wine and Italian treats. If you would also like to learn more about how you can make digital your advantage, make sure you don’t miss the next event!

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