It’s an image we’ve seen play out on television and in movies for decades: A breaking news bulletin comes into the local newspaper or TV newsroom.  In the smoky back-office, a gruff editor chomping on a cigar gets the word and barks out a command to get their best reporter on the story.

It may be cliché, but when an opportunity comes along involving YOUR brand, that kind of scene should be playing out for you too (without the second-hand smoke).  To get a story done right, get a real storyteller on the case. Journalists have been doing it for centuries for newspapers, radio and TV newsrooms.  There’s a reason they coined the phrase Brand Journalism.

But wait … maybe you’re asking why you’d want to bring in an “old school” storyteller for your “new age” content marketing?

According to this reporter, here are 5 reasons an experienced journalist holds the storytelling key to inserting your brand stories into online engagements:

1. Storytelling is How We Relate

Humans communicate and gather information through stories. We always have.  The most compelling reading and viewing, whether in a newspaper, a book, or online content, is in the form of a story.

The truth is, these days a “journalist” can take on many forms – from a vintage ink-stained wretch (as they used to be fondly called), all the way to your customers (user-generated content). And anyone in between.

But it always comes back to one thing – are your content producers competent and trained in crafting a great story? Journalists are.

2. Trained in the 5 W’s!

When it comes to gathering information for a story, and sifting through all the noise, a trained journalist calls on the important 5 W’s to shape it into a storytelling narrative.

  • Who is the protagonist? And why do we care about them? Who will guide them to their goal? (Hint: Your brand)
  • What is the issue or obstacle the protagonist is facing?
  • Where does it take place: Setting the scene
  • When: Setting the timeline to put the goals in perspective
  • Why: Why must the protagonist get past the obstacle to reach their goal? What are the stakes?

And how do these journalists get the answers to those questions?  This leads us into…


3. Interviewing: The Storytelling Staple

A good journalist knows how to ask the right questions.  They know how to conduct an interview in such a way as to cajole the most informative answers to the most compelling queries.  And in the storyteller’s thirst for knowledge, getting the answers to those questions is what feeds the backstory, the current conflict, and the resolution.

Are your content marketers skilled at interviews?

4. Compelling, Not Selling

Journalists are not trained salespeople.  That’s a good thing.  If your content marketing efforts are to ring true with your target audience, they must be genuine.  The art of storytelling is different from the art of selling.  In the case of “brand journalism” the goal is customer engagement, thought leadership for your brand, and ultimately, conversion.

5. Fortunately, Journalists Are In Abundance

Traditional journalism has died. R.I.P.  The good news is there are plenty of talented writers and storytellers who’ve had their notepads ripped out from under them.  So as they look to reinvent themselves, that’s a win for the content marketing space, and a win for your business.

Plus, this top writing talent is available for a cost similar to content writers who don’t have nearly the same insight or experience.

Get a Journalist to Showcase Your Brand Stories

In my past life of a broadcast journalist, finding the most compelling story to captivate an audience has always been the goal.  It should be priority #1 for your content team.  An experienced storyteller is your ally in content marketing.  Once you’ve engaged your target audience, and they’ve clicked on, or tapped on your content to learn more, the story of your brand is in the palm of their hands. And that’s no cliché.

Dave Litman is a master storyteller, writer and producer who has created stories for The Discovery Channel, TSN, VH1 and other media. This is a second in a series sharing his POV on the role of storytelling in Content Marketing, from the analog to digital worlds.