21st March 2020

Lessons from the newsroom; 6 tips on good storytelling

Simon Cliffe
Founder & Director

Good storytelling – whether you’re using just a few Twitter characters, writing a blog, crafting a whitepaper or shooting video – isn’t easy, but it’s not brain surgery either. In fact, good storytelling is just good common sense.

Across the years I’ve been lucky enough to work with, and lead, hundreds of journalists. Every day I was in a newsroom I would challenge each and every one of them to stop acting like journalists, and start thinking like listeners, viewers or readers; normal people. 

Because when you start thinking like your audience, you start understanding what will turn them on, and what’s going to switch them off. Do that in the world of communications and marketing, and you’re swapping out your corporate pillars for stories that people will actually care about.  

I’m sharing some of the basic rules we used to stick to. There are plenty more where these came from, so If you need more, just come and find us.

6 hacks/tips on good storytelling:

Newsy: It needs credibility and substance, we can’t just create something for the fun of it – that’s called a non-story, which means you’re not giving me a reason to care.

Original: Is it new? People can see through old recycled stories. Just because it was being talked about last week doesn’t mean I want to talk about it today.

Case Studies: Real-life case studies give your story a more human and relatable edge. Choose them well and make the story about them, because it’ll make it much easier for people to care.

Relatable: Your story has to be something your target audience can relate to, it can’t just be about what you do. That means sometimes you have to work it harder and find the impact of what the business does rather than just making it all about you.

Angles: Don’t have too many, make it easy for people to follow. Sometimes, especially in top lines or opening soundbites, it’s tempting to cram as much information in as possible. Stick to one angle and make it a good one. 

Please: No spokespeople that do not add value; it doesn’t matter if it’s a video, press release, podcast or whatever, you need spokespeople that add to the story, not push people away from it.

So, there you go, 6 tips on good storytelling as learned from the newsroom. And, you can cut this out and stick it on your wall if you want, or, to make it easier to remember, why not turn it into an acronym? 

N.O. C.R.A.P

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