There’s some often cited research that says we’re 22 times more likely to recall a story than we are a fact. But when you’re dealing in branded content, perhaps a more useful way to consider this information is that we’re 22 times more likely to recall a fact when it’s wrapped in a story.

Like just about every other agency and production company everywhere, we consider ourselves storytellers. But unlike so many, our ability to tell a story is underpinned by our approach to finding them.

People wanted to experience the story behind these facts

What we’re seeing

Found stories are always best because... they’re real. Audiences have more empathy for a protagonist when they know a real person actually experienced the drama taking place in the narrative. We gambled on this theory when our entertainment division committed to making the documentary ‘Chasing Great’. We had committed to telling a story that everyone already knew the ending of [SPOILER ALERT]: the All Blacks won the World Cup and Richie retired. But despite the knowledge of these facts, the film went on to become New Zealand’s highest grossing documentary of all time. Why? People wanted to experience the story behind these facts.

What you need to know

We use these same principles when we create content strategies for brands. One of our earlier articles in this series looks at the importance of creating an editorial vision for your brand. In practice, this is really about having a framework that allows marketers to easily find stories, and quickly identify the context in which they will be most relevant to the brand’s audience - similar to how an editor in a newsroom assesses its leads in the morning meeting.

With the story identified, we use a rapid content development process that we’ve again adapted from our work in television and film. It identifies your assets, access and audience, and maps them against your content framework so we know whether it’s a big noisey hero story that will require more time and care to tell, or if it’s a fast turnaround response to an audience behaviour as part of an ‘always-on’ approach. And sometimes, it’s not a story at all - it’s a how-to.

Why is this important?

This all might seem a bit theoretical at first, but these are the fundamentals through which channels build audiences. Get them right, and it allows your storytellers to communicate the facts in a way your audience will actually care about. This doesn’t mean shooting your next case study like it’s a feature film, or presenting your annual report in the style of a Netflix doco, it’s about putting your audience at the centre of your story and letting them experience your brand for themselves. In turn, they’re 22 times more likely to remember what you have to say - and they’ll be more appreciative of how you told it.

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