“A lot of content being produced is not good. That’s because it’s not telling a great story.” As Editor-in-Chief and Director of Content Strategy at Contently, Joe Lazauskas understands the interconnected relationship between content and story. It’s the focus of his new book, The Storytelling Edge, and our discussion on this week’s episode of the On Brand podcast.
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About Joe Lazauskas
Joe is the co-author of the Amazon #1 New Release The Storytelling Edge: How to Transform Your Business, Stop Screaming Into the Void, and Make People Love You with Contently co-founder Shane Snow. He’s also the head of Content Strategy for Contently and Executive Editor of The Content Strategist, winner of the 2016 Digiday Award for Best Brand Publication. A technology and marketing journalist, Joe is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for Mashable, Digiday, and Forbes, amongst other publications.
Why does story matter for brands? “When we hear a good story our brains react. It releases an empathy drug called oxytocin.” This neurotransmitter is powerful as it helps us develop empathy for brands.
The four elements of great storytelling. How can content marketers embrace story? Joe reminds brands to focus on the four elements most great stories have — (1) relatability, (2) novelty, (3) tension, and (4) fluency. Tension can be tricky as most businesses “don’t want anything bad to happen.”
Who embraces these four elements? “American Express Open Forum and GE.” The community AmEx created helped bring Small Business Saturday to life while GE Reports is a blog run by a former Forbes editor that reports on innovations inside GE.
Why do marketers need to be better journalists? “Because journalists ask the right questions as they interview engineers, salespeople, even customers.”
How can marketers become better journalists and storytellers? Don’t forget to look outside your bubble — Joe finds inspiration in New Yorker collections, the writing of David Sedaris, and the classic Frank Sinatra Has a Cold. “If you want to reach Wall Street Journal readers, then study Wall Street Journal writing.”
A serving of content marketing vegetables. When I asked Joe what marketers need to be focused on in 2018, he surprised me by not pivoting to story. Rather, he served up some classic content marketing vegetables — audience (what do they really care about?), distribution (we have better tools than ever before), and leveling up the business impact of our content (it can’t just be page views and impressions).
What brand has made Joe smile recently? “Track Maven. At Content Marketing World a few months ago, they had people put on goggles and throw spaghetti at a wall.” This powerful brand experience brings to life a story many marketers know all too well — throwing things/tactics at the wall and seeing what sticks.
As We Wrap …
Before we go, I want to flip the microphone around to our community …
In keeping with the theme of The Storytelling Edge, I gave a shout out to a previous guest of this podcast, Melanie Deziel, who mentioned the Joe’s new book on Instagram. Here’s her On Brand interview.
Did you hear something you liked on this episode or another? Do you have a question you’d like our guests to answer? Let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #OnBrandPodcast and you may just hear your thoughts here on the show.
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