When I was asked to facilitate a journalist panel on the impact of compelling content and storytelling, I secretly hoped for a group of panelists who would make my role as facilitator as easy as possible. Thankfully, they did just that!
The event was the launch of The Content Studio, hosted by disruptive tech-PR agency C8 Consulting in central London. The journalists chosen were some of the most respected in the country.
We were graced by the presence of investigative journalist and writer Tony Collins who was executive editor at Computer Weekly when its reporter Rebecca Thomson broke the Horizon Post Office story; Hannah Prevett, the deputy editor of The Times Network and a champion of today’s UK entrepreneur; Mark Chillingworth, editor of CIO.co.uk editor and an authority on the challenges facing today’s CIO; and Dr. Sally Eaves, and emergent tech CTO and popular host of the Tomorrow’s Tech Today podcast.
They were joined by David Oakley, senior director at Markettiers and a broadcast communications specialist. After handling a full day of TV coverage on the new electric Rolls-Royce, David was full of enthusiasm!
Facing a room full of marketing and comms folk from far and wide, our panelists didn’t disappoint. We kicked off with questions about what makes a good story. They said stories need to be topical; they need to be new, colourful, and they need to have that wow factor.
But we also learned about the power of stories about people – Mark made the point that his readers are fascinated by the challenges faced by other CIOs, and Tony talked about how the situation faced by post office branch managers created a hugely emotional pull to Computer Weekly’s story.
The panel then discussed the various mediums for communicating stories – video, the written word, the importance of podcasts, and how stories need to be adapted for these different mediums.
David pointed out that when pitching a story to the broadcast media, it is vital to demonstrate how the story can be captured on film. Sally and Hannah also talked about the power of radio and having a spokesperson who can come across well through this medium was vital to adopting a pitched story.
One area of fascination for the audience was the discussion’s move into constructive journalism – the need for positive stories in a media world where negative stories seem to be at the forefront of our daily news.
Hannah talked about the power of positive stories about entrepreneurs; Tony and Mark were interested to hear what the other panelists had to say. How were readers reacting to these stories? What are the critical challenges currently faced by the media in presenting positive stories during an economic downturn?
Dr. Sally spoke of her passion for emerging technologies and her initiatives based on Tech for Good, with David sharing examples of how feel-good stories translated so well to broadcast because of their power to convey stand-alone messages quickly on a local and national level with high impact.
This brought the panel on to how to get business stories in front of the media. What was particularly interesting was that there isn’t a common or ‘one size fits all’ approach.
Every panelist seemed to prefer different methods of communication. For example, one was very happy to be contacted through WhatsApp, while another journalist said they would hate that, and that e-mail was preferable. But when it came to content, they all agreed on the same thing.
They wanted compelling content that put their reader/listener/viewer at the story’s heart. And that the story ‘pitcher’ could only do this if they had a laser-focus understanding of the specific audience being addressed by that journalist.
The discussion proved insightful beyond anything I or the audience had ever heard. It wasn’t long before an hour had flown by, and it was time to wrap up the conversation. Would we ever be able to gather these great media minds together again in one room? I certainly hope so.
All of which was just so fascinating to hear from these fantastic panellists.
After over an hour, we decided to wrap up, announcing to everyone joyously that the bar was now open.
Everyone looked incredibly disappointed…..
Now that must be a first.
If you are interested in finding out more about our Content Studio or have a specific project in mind, please download our brochure.