The Vanguard View: Insight for Association Websites

7 Secrets of a Master Digital Story Teller

Posted by Ray van Hilst on Wed, Aug 21, 2013



Today's guest post is written by Susan Young, CEO at Get In Front Communications.  Connect with Susan on Twitter at @sueyoungmedia or by email.

Press Pass and CredentialsYou may have noticed that digital storytelling is making headlines. 

Any association or nonprofit interested in tapping social media to promote its services and members must understand the far-reaching influence of this marketing model, known as Brand Journalism.

Brand Journalism enables your organization to craft and convey its own story in an engaging way that we’ve never experienced before.

For decades, the media had been a dictatorship, swollen with stilted, jargon-filled messages now loathed by the public. Organizations must embrace the new way that people receive and consume information.

We have shifted to a democracy, where many voices make up the message. These days, it’s called ‘conversation’.

We want faces on the stories. We want to hear about real experiences in real-time.  We want to connect emotionally with others. As vast as social media is, we want to belong to a community that feels like home.  

Brand Journalism and storytelling offer refreshing ways to engage with prospective and current members, vendors, stakeholders, and employees.

Associations and the Human Factor

This model of contemporary communication is important for a number of reasons. It’s a move away from the features and benefits mentality to the emotions of why people join—or don’t join—our group.  

A master digital storyteller:

  1. Understands the need for all humans to connect and bond.
  2. Knows the importance of putting a face on a story (the human factor).  
  3. Shares many aspects of the brand, culture, members, volunteers, employees, and community.
  4. Travels deep into the multiple layers of stories he or she is surrounded by and confidently uses available social channels to create cohesive and compelling content for internal and external communications.
  5. Appreciates the opportunity to drive and influence mass numbers of people to bring them a transparent and balanced story—without traditional media.
  6. Weaves images, video, audio, graphics, and other social tools to create stories that pop. 
  7. Keeps his or her news radar and antennae up at all times knowing that there are stories, profiles, pictures, video clips, blog posts, and interviews just waiting to be developed and shared.

Analyzing Your Efforts

Of course, metrics and knowing how your messages are being received are important, too. Is web traffic up? Are your members and employees more engaged? Are you generating conversations in chats and LinkedIn groups? How are you doing with Pinterest, Slideshare, and Vine? What kind of buzz are you building?

The Next Steps

Collectively, we are all in the news business. It’s fine for me because I’ve been working in news, PR, and communication for 27 years. I was a radio news director and reporter in New Jersey and New York, one of the most competitive media markets in the U.S.

Here’s the bottom line: Your association is now a publisher of content and stories. You have a press pass, whether you want it or not. 

Savvy association leaders are beginning to jump on the publishing platform, fully aware that their willingness to share relevant and timely news will position them as the ‘go-to resource’ within a niche. Talk about influence.  

Why do so many organizations fall short with Brand Journalism? Association managers and directors feel overwhelmed knowing their staff lacks the experience required to develop and execute this news platform on a consistent basis.

Is your association embracing the power and influence of this new marketing and publishing model?

Is this the best communication you aren’t using?

Susan Young, CEO of Get in Front Communications, is an award-winning news reporter, entrepreneur, and communications consultant. She works with associations who want to publish relevant industry content with newsfeeds that build visibility, credibility, and revenues.  Susan’s latest accomplishment: Being named one of the ’75 Badass Women on Twitter.’ 

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Topics: guest posts, web strategy, Communications, content strategy

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