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January 12, 2012

What Makes a Good Story?

by Cameron Bays

A good story is more than just a jumble of words and ideas. It’s a carefully crafted piece of art that is designed to enlighten and inspire readers.

At Nyhus, our team of expert storytellers understands this concept; we work with our clients to craft compelling narratives that are reported on by reputable business, local and trade publications. A few of our favorite storytellers include Art Thiel of Sportspress, Danny Westneat from the Seattle Times, John Cook and Todd Bishop from GeekWire, Jenna Goudreau from Forbes Woman and Tyler Cowen, an economist and columnist for the New York Times.

Quality storytelling is at the center of any effective communications program. Although we work closely with our clients to craft unique stories, we wanted to share some general thoughts with our online community about what Nyhus employees think makes a “good story.”  We surveyed our employees about this topic and three key themes emerged – Take note!

A Good Story…

Contains Quality information
With the breadth of information posted, printed and tweeted on a daily basis, people have little to no time for content that doesn’t resonate with their lives. Today’s media consumer wants to feel rewarded from their media content. One way to ensure this is to generate news content that is of high quality.

A good news story doesn’t just report what happened; it shows how the issues being discussed are connected to a larger trend or context. Connecting the dots of a story is important because it helps readers see the big picture. We recently accomplished this for Pan Pacific Hotel Seattle by connecting their innovative Pan Earth program with the larger sustainability trend that is starting to take root on an international level. Identifying this synergy between Pan Pacific’s story and the larger narrative occurring enabled us to spread Pan Pacific’s story with publications such as the Puget Sound Business Journal and Seattle Business Magazine.

Helps you Think Critically about Issues

Well-crafted narratives do more than just inform you about what’s happening; they help you think critically about issues. Good stories do this by offering up objective points of view and representing both sides of an argument accurately and fairly, allowing readers to think deeply about issues and come to their own conclusions using the facts given. Well-crafted narratives help readers understand that there is a prevailing viewpoint while still giving the other side of the argument a voice. In addition to helping readers see both sides of an issue, a good story also enlightens readers about emerging trends with valid proof points and information from credible sources. Stories that are well-crafted engage their readers and get them thinking about what’s next.

Is Relevant
In today’s 24 hour news cycle, relevance is of utmost importance.  With so much going on in the world, if you’re not relevant, it’s very easy to get caught in the noise. To prevent this from happening, it’s important that your story is sharing new information, targeted at a specific audience, tied to some current issue or trend. These factors will help ensure that your story is relevant.

Looking to tell a story of your own? Nyhus can help; we have experience helping craft stories for our Public Relations, Public Affairs, Marketing and Social Media clients. What’s your story? We can help you find out and win new business by telling it to important decision makers and news outlets.

[Photo courtesy of Flickr user DBduo Photography]

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