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New Era Demands New Storytelling Tactics (Ladies and Gentlemen, pencils down…)

New Era Demands New Storytelling Tactics (Ladies and Gentlemen, pencils down…)

Two more venerable B-to-B publications recently shuttered their doors, joining literally scores of other departed titles over the past 30 months. Add in consolidation and an increasingly fragmented media landscape and B-to-B communication professionals are facing an industry in flux.

Two more venerable B-to-B publications recently shuttered their doors, joining literally scores of other departed titles over the past 30 months. Add in consolidation and an increasingly fragmented media landscape and B-to-B communication professionals are facing an industry in flux.

Perhaps the writing was on the dead-tree page pre-Recession. As other B-to-B communicators can well attest, the news hole has been shrinking. As recently as five years ago the average feature article or case history length clocked in at 1200-1600 words. By today’s Tweet-driven standards, my first major written assignment, which ran with every comma intact, weighed in at an overweening 2450 words.

How best do we serve our clients in this uncertain environment? What can we extract from our PR arsenal to effectively communicate for them?

In a word: Video.

Publishers and editors inform us that they generate more web traffic – and longer visits – with the videos posted on their on-line portals. Their resultant desire for more well-produced, informative, and interesting video postings creates great opportunity for companies willing to invest and dedicate the time and resources to producing compelling content.

We’ve worked hand in hand with our clients the past 24 months to create myriad video content, scaling from single-camera “Just the facts, Ma’am” QAs up to highly produced, multi-cast, award-winning stories.

I’d like share with you some of our key findings:

  • It’s about Story

One could argue that the decline of traditional print communications hastens us back to the pre-literate era, only now electronically captured, in which important facts and histories are passed down through the oral tradition.

Brand messaging, unique value proposition, and key value points need to be digested and then, and only then, be presented in an engaging storyline – complete with drama, villains, plot points, humor, and the other classic elements of a good story. People don’t remember a brand message — they remember a compelling story.

  • Clients aren’t Actors

The rightful need for message control continues unabated regardless of format, particularly in a challenged economy. But we’ve learned that when clients, or their customers, are over-scripted and focused on memorizing their main points, the final result simply isn’t that good: stiff, robot-like, unconvincing.

 To paraphrase the great George Burns, if you can fake sincerity you’ve got it made.

 Prior to shooting we’ll have a full pre-interview with the participant, we’ll supply general questions and the direction of the inquiry, and then focus making them comfortable and relaxed during the taping. We stress that we’re merely having a conversation. As in real life, sometimes it rambles and digresses, sometimes they go slightly “off-message.” But it does not matter. It’s why we edit. We select the best bits, splice them together, and post the smooth and relaxed result.

  • Endless Possibilities

Furnishing online media with credible content is the focus of this discussion, but the productive end-uses for video are practically limitless. Outside of website and YouTube posting, our clients have utilized video as part of sales presentations, internal sales training, investor presentations, trade-show exhibits, and new-business pitches.

The investment can be substantial. It’s important up front to identify all of the potential homes for professionally produced and highly persuasive video content that can add significant value both within and outside the company.

Final Takeaway

Video is an important and growing communication tactic in today’s altered B-to-B media landscape. Properly planned, strategically implemented, and professionally produced video will net excellent placement opportunities in addition to multiple productive uses. The centrality of excellent storytelling will ensure that your message is remembered, repeated, and profitably deployed. Lights, camera, action!

Sharon Corrigan is a Deputy Managing Director EMEA at ABI marketing public relations. You can reach her at +44 207-014-3502 and scorrigan@abipr.com.

by Sharon Corrigan