Photo Credit: Deborah Mitchell Media Associates
Whether you are writing a blog or producing video for television or online, content is king. Nothing makes better content than a good story, and everybody–including individuals and brands–has a story. Storytelling is an art, and with brands competing for the short attention span of audiences online and on-air, the story always needs to contain a few key elements. It should be compelling, informative, and entertaining. So if you’re thinking about telling your story off- or online, here are a few great tips I’ve picked up in the last year from successful on-screen professionals who know how to tell a good story:
Mob Wives New Blood – Season 4
Authenticity is key. Unlike the popular perception, most reality TV show producers do not encourage fake storylines. According to Jenn Graziano, executive producer of the highly successful show Mob Wives, the key to creating the constant action is to be selective with the life events that are followed on the show. She says, “Our commitment to honest, true storytelling has always remained the same across all seasons.”
Brands finding authenticity. A business can learn a few lessons from that. Instead of creating gorgeous scripted videos, they can find their stories in their corporate culture. Employees who run in marathons, volunteer in soup kitchens, or give back to the local community are creating great content for a brand to engage its audience more in a Facebook conversation. It personalizes a brand and makes the people behind the product more human.
Mike Sargent with Gina Prince-Bythewood on the set of Arise On Screen
Photo Credit: Michelle Lynne Madar/Deborah Mitchell Media Associates
Build the anticipation. In a recent interview with Arise On Screen host Mike Sargent, Beyond the Lights writer and director Gina Prince-Bythewood highlighted the most important element in successful storytelling. She believes that “a good story is one that I’m listening to and makes me want to know what happens next.”
Build the anticipation for a brand. This is a crucial point, since oftentimes there’s a very small window of opportunity to keep a viewer interested. During a television commercial or YouTube video, the viewer has the option of skipping the ad after five seconds. In those crucial few seconds, the brand has to try to get as much of the message through so that it reaches viewers, even if they choose to skip it.
Steven Ramey, Senior Producer of Arise America for Arise News
Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell/Deborah Mitchell Media Associates
Be concise in your story. Steven Ramey, line producer at Arise On Screen, has the delicate main task of time management on the show. He’s a fan of brevity, and his favorite saying is, “If you want to say something, have something to say.” He’s right! Just because TV shows and commercials have to be an exact length in order to fit in regular programming does not mean that online videos don’t have time constraints. A bored viewer is less likely to watch a video again if it goes on endlessly and aimlessly.
Brands, be concise. The essence of a message is all that matters, and any unessential elements to your story should be edited out. According to Steve, “It’s better to say something short and meaningful than to fill a lot of hot air that doesn’t mean anything.”
Lyndsay Christian, Media Professional
Appeal to your viewers’ emotions. As a media and television consultant, Lyndsay Christian knows how to put the best of both worlds in her stories. Her advice is to appeal to to a viewer’s heart: “Start with the subject, build out the story, and end with the subject. What is the story you’re trying to convey? What is he or she experiencing? How is the subject feeling? Write vividly to express those emotions.”
Brands know and appeal to your consumers. A business that connects with its audience on an emotional level is more likely to create brand loyalty because the stories it tells are not about the sale or even the present. The best videos are the ones that recognize the past and look forward to the future, giving meaning to their journey with their customers.
Businesses put a lot of effort and money into cultivating a brand image, so make sure your message has the meat, the heat, and an angle. Making a great video requires a great story, and in a social world, the story has to be real, vivid, and to the point. Before hunting down the best director for the next commercial, ask this question: Does my brand make a difference or change lives? If so, these are the stories that will captivate the hearts of your audience and motivate them to share what they see.