5 Key Elements Of Effective Brand Stories

September 9th, 2019


With brands and marketers increasingly taking up the torch of storytelling, partnering with publishers on native ads and leveraging content across their own properties, there are plenty of tips, tricks and approaches to be learned from the world of journalism. In this podcast we discuss the five most important journalistic best practices taught in journalism-school classrooms and used in newsrooms across the country, allowing brand marketers and content strategists to make high-quality and authentic content that abides by the best practices that make journalistic content compelling, effective and trustworthy.

Key Topics

  • How to add trust to the content you create
  • How to set your content apart in a world of content-sameness
  • How to ensure your content is relatable and creates an emotional connection with your audience

Melanie Deziel

Founder of StoryFuel

Melanie Deziel is the founder of StoryFuel, which consults with brands looking to create, expand or optimize their branded content teams, processes and practices. As a speaker, Melanie travels the world giving keynotes and corporate workshops that teach marketers, publishers, creators and companies how to create the best possible brand storytelling.

Melanie has spoken at conferences and events around the world, with audiences ranging from 20 to 5000. Her international keynotes have been live translated into five languages and she’s graced the stage of industry-leading events including Content Marketing World, Native Ad Days, SXSW, Social Media Marketing World, Inbound, and more.

As the first editor of branded content at The New York Times’s T Brand Studio, she wrote the sponsored content pieces that won the 2014 and 2015 Best Native Advertising Execution OMMA Award, including the acclaimed “Women Inmates” piece for Netflix. She was a founding member of HuffPost Partner Studio, helping to build out the brand storytelling team. She also worked as the Director of Creative Strategy at Time Inc., building branded content programs and strategy across 35+ US media properties, including Time, People, Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly and more.  

Melanie studied investigative reporting at the University of Connecticut and earned her M.A. in Arts Journalism from Syracuse University. She serves on the board of the Native Advertising Institute, judges industry awards, and developed and taught the first Master’s level course in Content Marketing for Fairleigh Dickinson University.

She lives in New Jersey with her husband and she’d love if you’d follow along with her adventures on Twitter (@mdeziel) and Instagram (@meldeziel). Learn more about StoryFuel at www.storyfuel.co

Sign up with your email to get exclusive updates on Melanie’s upcoming content book (Coming early 2020) including sneak peeks, early access, pre-order information & more at www.storyfuel.co/booklaunch

Podcast Show Notes

Brand Storytelling is a hot topic in the marketing world…but not everyone knows what makes a compelling story, or how to tell that story. Journalists have been doing this for decades though, and there are a lot of best practices marketers can follow to tell compelling, effective and trustworthy brand stories. 

The Anatomy of a Good Story: 

As marketers, we spend so much time telling our audience things. We tell them we have a new product. We tell them they should buy. They tell them they’re great—and all those things may be true… but we don’t spend anywhere near enough time showing our audience why they should care about any of those things. 

  • Show, don’t tell is one of the first things you learn in journalism school. That it isn’t our job to tell our audience what to think or how to feel about a story, a person, or a situation, but to show them, to paint a picture with enough detail and provide enough background that they can come to those conclusions on their own. 
  • Good journalists act in service of the audience, not in service of ourselves. Good content puts the audience’s needs first. 
  • Increasingly, marketers are realizing that to be a great content marketer, they too must put the audience’s needs first
  • The Anatomy of a Good Story is based in TRUTH. 
    • Timely – was an issue being discussed, both convictions and over-incarceration.
    • Reputable – researchers, doctors, prisoners, prison workers, government reports/data 
    • Unique – new formats, new perspectives, new findings, got inside the prison.
    • Tension – morality, right and wrong, crime, family dynamics 

Links & Resources

Women Inmates-Separate But Not Equal

“Women Inmates: Separate But Not Equal,” The New York Times for Netflix.

Visit the Story Fuel Press Page for numerous examples of Melanie’s essays, branded content, and editorial bylines.

Everybody Writes Ann Handley

Everybody Writes is your go-to guide to creating ridiculously good content that attracts and retains customers.

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