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Great branded content: The common question and its simple answer

By: Amy Rohn

Like any advertising agency, we have pieces of work we love to show off. We’ll put it in a new business pitch, share with friends and family or existing clients, and feature it in awards submissions. Any chance we get to share it we will – because it’s a piece of content we’re all really proud of.

Great branded content starts with a great story.

For Lindsay, Stone & Briggs some of that branded content is a video series our content studio did in partnership with our Briggs & Stratton client. The series is meant to highlight people accomplishing great things with the help of outdoor power equipment. The series supports the brand’s You.Powered. positioning.

The video we always show tells the powerful story of a college student named Rodney. I won’t belabor the story here, you should just watch the video, but trust me, it’s compelling, emotional and inspiring.

The question, and the (not so magical) answer.

Without fail, whenever I show this video somebody in the room always asks, “How did you find these stories?”

And the answer is really quite simple – and at the same time very telling.

We don’t have a magic story finder algorithm; we certainly don’t make them up, they’re all very real. We don’t hire a team of “storyfinders” to scour the country for stories. But if we did have “storyfinders” that would be a pretty cool job. (Note to self: see if I can “TM” storyfinders and launch a new agency service…)

The answer was probably best articulated by my LSB colleague, Jake Miller, who told one prospective client that it was “good old-fashioned journalistic digging.” Jake, by the way, is a former journalist so he should know.

That doesn’t make it easy. To be honest, that digging can be difficult, time-consuming and sometimes fruitless. And while it’s not always easy, it is straightforward and that’s the magic.

One person who asked us “the question” – a senior communications person at a prospect company – made a point of telling us how refreshing that response was and how much he appreciated it. As a client-side marketer, he was put off by some of the convoluted algorithmic processes that some agencies were bringing to him. He appreciated the authentic simplicity of the answer and the process.

Keep it simple. Keep it real.

As marketers, we as an industry often overcomplicate things. Maybe we think our work has more perceived value when it’s convoluted and outsiders think we have magic and proprietary, Rube Goldbergian processes that can’t be replicated.

But at the end of the day, what we need to do is make a connection with a person. And we can’t let processes, egos, silos or anything else complicate that. The way we’re going to connect with the “millennial mom” or the “time-starved executive” or the “recent retiree” is to understand what moves them and create branded content that authentically speaks to that.

And in order to achieve that viral branded content, like Rodney’s story, that we all want to deliver for our brands, it has to be real. It’s stories that inspire or that we can relate to. It’s not magic. It won’t come because some agency put a “TM” behind a word or process they invented. It comes from good, real stories, well told.

That “well told” part is where we shine.

Amy Rohn

SVP, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC RELATIONS

Amy is a firm believer that public relations on its own is good. But when integrated as part of a marketing strategy that includes owned, paid and social media, that’s where the magic happens. A career PR professional and 12-year veteran of LSB, Amy’s worked on everything from the classic “got milk?” campaign to lawn mower engine demo events. She strongly believes that a messy desk is the sign of a brilliant mind and grammatical errors can topple empires.

Read more from Amy Rohn

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