Stop creating content; start crafting stories

The Accomplishment Blog by Dirk LammersAs a long-time journalist whose best work involved telling others’ stories, I’m not a fan of the term “content.”

The word is cold and sterile and seemingly sucks the life out of any collection of words and sentences. Characterizing a piece of writing as mere “content” sets the quality bar too low, implying people are kuhn-TENT’ with any old KAHN’-tent as long as it fills space.

When deciding what we want to communicate through our website, marketing materials or newsletters, let’s drop the phrase “creating content” and replace it with “crafting stories.”

A well-crafted story draws an emotional reaction from its reader. Think of that moment when you just finished reading your favorite book or watching your favorite movie. What did you choose to do? Some prefer to sit in silence, re-experiencing a favorite scene in their head. Many seek to spread the word, convincing everyone in their social circle to experience what they just did. Others seek out those who read or watched the same story, commiserating on reactions and interpretations.

These reactions shouldn’t be the exclusive property of quality books or Oscar-nominated movies. When brainstorming what you want to communicate to your customers or members, think of your task in terms of crafting a great story. To borrow from the well-taught five elements, a story involves a Character in a Setting working through a Plot, encountering Conflict along the way. And often, the story fits into an overall Theme. Think of how these elements fit into your own organization or business. Who are the interesting characters? What are the work-related stories your employees and customers like to tell?

Some examples:

  • How your product or service helped a customer
  • Why you started your business
  • A profile of a key team member
  • How your business fills a need and fits into the overall marketplace

Think about your business and jot down some potentially engaging stories, then do some of the work to flesh out those ideas. Interview your customers and your employees, who will undoubtedly see your business or organization from a different perspective. When you’ve settled on the stories you want to convey, hire a professional writer who can turns those ideas into engaging prose. It will set your website apart from your competitors and give your customers a reason to return more frequently.