Making Good Use of Your Company's Story
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Making Good Use of Your Company's Story



Presented to Association of Women In Communication, July 10, 2012. How to obtain rich, detailed company stories and use them to achieve your advertising, marketing and public relations goals.

Presented to Association of Women In Communication, July 10, 2012. How to obtain rich, detailed company stories and use them to achieve your advertising, marketing and public relations goals.



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  • If they just knew:How great our product isHow our services are so much betterThe tremendous expertise we offerAbout our tremendous growthThat we have the best, most loyal customersThat we are the greatest innovatorsThat we offer the best valueYour secret weaponAll around utility tool for communicating all those thingsIs your story
  • Lonely kid – loved to read 7 books a week from the library.No surprise I ended up a writer.Needed to support myself and my daughterJournalism sales direct to mediaCorporate video Scriptwriter and producerHospital PR 5 years at 1,000-bed regional health centerBack to freelance since 1990Currently small client list – help tell their stories.Side emphasis on helping people write books
  • Getting startedFreelancer – good and bad that work alone.Making good use of company’s story - Team effortWhy do it? will be group decisionStrengthening customer bondsIncrease sales (can support your sales team)Position for a company saleOthers will help decideAudience. Who is it for?Employees, industry professionals, prospective buyer, casual readers, news mediaWhere will they encounter or use it?On the website? Inserts in pay envelopes or invoices Magazine or newspaper insert? Grand openings, kickoffs Direct mail
  • This artist had a 73-year career – lots of success, thousands of sales.Still regionalRelatively unknownA hardcover book beautifully displayed the workCatalog and sales tool for an artistEarly pages positioning him in an important region – So. Cal Watercolor schoolChronology at end demonstrates exhibition historyKnown marks and signatures important for authenticating workSuccessful at introducing him to new collectorsPut the arc of his entire career – oeuvre as they say – between two covers.Fantastic tool!
  • Say you’ve got a Big anniversary coming up.You’re not going to get blindsided –You’re going to think ahead and be a hero!Awesome!Memorialize company founder when integral to companySoftcover bookObit35,000 copiesHistoric photosMaps show regional growthGreen boxes - Company milestonesText boxes upper left with photo corner – background info - more later
  • What media will accomplish your goals?In print (O’Reilly)TV ads or newsRadio ad or newsJust heard a client on radio “25 years ago I started in my basement with a dream of a clean environment.” Very personal PR applications: Develop short list of people best suited to media interviews. On camera skills or voice skills.Exhibits in waiting areas, video loops, product displaysDirect mailYou Tube channel Mobile phone app
  • Used to be – history just in an archive in the company offices.Now look how cool!On web it’s available 24/7 in photo, story, videoEspecially if you have good photosNew York Times use of timeline for historical perspective interesting milestonesspace them out over time so not overload readers.Can schedule in advance to post a few a dayLink on my webiteFacebook timelines
  • We’re story-telling creatures.That’s how we communicate meaningDon’t be nervous –When you’re getting someone’s story, you’re just getting to know themGet two or three age-mates together - Group recollectionsInterviewer (You?) ask questions – they will stimulate each other Have another person take notes or recordProfessional interviewerPhotos and artifacts as promptsIt’s so fun! Party time. Great energy.Stay in storytelling modeGet sequence and clarifying details later“How” and “Why” questions are threatening“When” can make people nervous tooDo some research -- Plan your questions
  • For background colorHistorical societiesLocal history museumNewspaper archivesGoogle what happened on the dayMy fave for O’Reilly bookOne of the audiences was his many descendants and young employees.No idea of the world thenMilk was $.36 a gallon, eggs $.32 a dozen, car cost $300Remember editor’s rule:Names are always spelled wrong. Also dates and “facts” are often wrongAlso do fact checking – library and archives can give names of researchers Once hired grad student in Hawaii for fact check.Archivist rule – confirm every fact with two sources.
  • Thanks to Sheila Scarborough and Maria Henneberry for program at National conference in Tulsa last Fall.Do plan to go to 2013.Flickr creative commonsLibrary of CongressTV news archivesEmployee scrapbooksCompany archives
  • If you don’t have to, don’tIf must: human, formal and short “Our deepest sympathies...” put in historical context and spin itWorked for a bankPrez. had interest in historyWorking with My dad on his life story– toll of Alzheimer’s.Hired to interview a dozen older employees.Rough and ready -- Small town banksDays of character banking – handshakes, few checks and balances.Made great stories. Transcribed, now in archive – no way they will ever go public with these stories, but preserved as part of the record.I think it’s important.Most corporations will prefer not to mention any “negatives” regardlessNothing in print or videoIf unavoidable negative, train salespeople to address it
  • Want a nervous breakdown? Like Multiple all-nighters?Fantastic! Love those!If not, Do yourself a favor and avoid emergency modeWork backward from your delivery date or other deadlineEstimate time needed for each stepInclude time to wait for others to respondDouble itSame for budgetThink the project through – fees/hourly for each player or serviceDouble it.May not get it but you’ll start high enough maybe you can live with the finalIf you don’t have luxury of time and money, scale back your ambitions
  • We all knowThis is what your boss wants you to do
  • But it is undeniably true:Can only have twoMust communicate this to your employer – be the broken record
  • Videotape only if it moves & is excitingPhotos for the recordDo record if: will use footage or audio; controversial, possible legal repercussion, major ad campaign, or too many speakers to keep straight.But why would you do that? – stay away from controversiesDon’t record if: non-controversial, no actual use for the original.Takes 3 times as long to transcribe audio as to record it, then you have to edit down.People often do not actually say what they meanEasier/faster to take notes, clean them up - make them sound betterhave them review and approve.They’ll change it anyway.Sign off
  • Here’s where you mine the gold!Share stories with marketing people for advertisingPhoto display in Lobby – Hammons Heart InstituteGreat B-roll visuals to cover interviewsEDCO story – Found out later -- Positioning company for saleTrade journal articles Offer newsy feature focus – useful info Let customers review & correct Get reprints & highlight them Mail reprints to targets Money aspect – tell editor will take their honorarium and company pays too.
  • You may not be on the scale of CocaCola, but stillA company builds a successful brand by making a deep powerful connection with its market.  Branding is about communicating on a basic human levelBranding = your storyyour company’s storythe story of your products and servicesyour customer’s story.
  • Branding – brands tell the company storyMakes a human connectionRadio ad people interviewedBasis for all media slightly obsessive guy -- grandpa SchrockWarranty page – Grandpa Shrock’s cabinets still in service today. That’s why we guarantee them for life.
  • GE human connectionsHow your story is rooted in your own experiences: the story of who you are. The connection between brands and values. How your stories can reflect an understanding and celebration of your customers, their stories and their values.
  • What’s involved in creating brand evangelists.How your stories can be purposeful and inspire enduring enthusiasm for your brand.I’m not expert. If you’re not either, hire agency specialists.
  • Customer storiesAsk sales and service co-workers to recommend happy customersSigned release forms.At hospital- a patient tried to extort – signed release saved usIf Sales refuses to get releases from current customersPromise they can review and make changes as needed to get their approval before printing.I always do this anywayMany media release versions available on Web Broadest possible – all uses all media -- so you don’t have to go back.My preference is clear language rather than legaleseCorporate legal dept. may not allow this Then I talk subject thru it to minimize fear factor. “This means ….” “You know lawyers” Most people sign without reading
  • Maybe you don’t want to be the fireater?Can’t do it all – already have a job, right?I’m writer editor, not ad copy writer. Not a graphic artistDon’t try all DIYIf want $$$$ return, hire the best creative talent you can affordProject might require these skills:Photog, videographer, scanners, audio recording, transcriptionist, editor, writer, creative director, illustrator, graphic artist, designer, printer, web designer, computer programmerNo budget – Lobby for an extended timeline Develop buy-in Tap others in organization. Best conversationalist amateur photog
  • Interviewing process –you do it all the time just getting to know someone for first timeRemember customers don’t only buy your product or service, they buy your company.They buy you.More likely to buy you…and studies show buy more products – if they can attach a feeling.Develop a comfort level, a connection, a human identification.Use your story to do that.Recap:Define audience, purpose and mediaInterviews and research for wonderful stories, photos, background materialsFact checking Avoid tough issues or deal quickly, formally and humanelyDevelop realistic timelines and budgets to avoid emergency modeDecide which two: Good, fast, cheapRecord if you need to Share with marketing for PR. advertising and branding usesGet signed releases and don’t skip the review/OK processAssemble the best creative team you can afford
  • Page of links mentioned in this presentationExamples of other booksBeth will send you an email with this link.Any questions?

Making Good Use of Your Company's Story Making Good Use of Your Company's Story Presentation Transcript

  • Making Good Use of Your Company’s
  • Margaret CastreySelf-employed writer, editor and mediaproducer since 1980
  • Getting Started
  • GettingStarted
  • Softcover Book
  • Define Your Media
  • Define the Project
  • Getting Rich, Detailed Stories
  • Connect the Dots
  • Background Details
  • Photo Sources
  • Tough Issues
  • Time and
  • GoodFastCheap
  • Good FastCheapPick Two
  • To Record or Not
  • Branding
  • Branding
  • Branding
  • Branding
  • Sign Here
  • Know Your Skills
  • You Can Do It!
  • Maggie Castrey