Brand Journalism and IoT Storytelling: Tips for Answering WSIC

How many companies play in your part of the M2M/IoT universe? Unprecedented growth and the advent of new technologies means companies in the IoT ecosystem often find themselves grappling with WSIC. No, not poor reception on your car radio station, but Why Should I Care About Your Company? To be a Tier 1 storytelling-2player, prospects and customers must be on your wavelength, tuned in to your company’s offerings and benefits. That’s where brand journalism and IoT storytelling come into play.

The power of storytelling isn’t just for journalists and novelists. With the number of traditional media outlets shrinking and the corresponding rise of digital and social media, more organizations are publishing their own content. Brand journalism — telling your brand story using the principles and skills of journalism and good storytelling — is a great way to make your company memorable.

Here are some tips to ensure your IoT stories educate and entertain your various audiences while answering the all-important WSIC:

  1. Nail down your basic message. First things first. Who is your audience? What’s their problem? What’s their conflict? How will your company resolve it? This is the underlying plot/structure of your stories.
  2. People identify with other people. In his best-selling part memoir, part master writing class, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,“ Stephen King says, “I think the best stories always end up being about the people rather than the event, which is to say character-driven.” Share stories about how your customers are using your products with real-world case studies. Or, feature your employees and why they’re passionate about your technology. And remember quotes are golden, but let people speak naturally.
  3. Establish credibility. Back up your stories with statistics and data, and always cite your sources.
  4. Add visuals. Blocks of unrelenting grey text bores your audience. Adding photos, graphics and videos increases Google search results and makes your content appealing.
  5. Tone down the marketing pitch. Journalism and storytelling is not advertising. You are providing information that’s of value to earn and keep the trust of your readers.
  6. Pay attention to professional details. Cover the five Ws (who, what, where, when, why and how), remember to run spellcheck and do NOT put a double space after a period. Ever.
  7. The AP Stylebook is your friend. If in doubt about grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, abbreviation, and word and numeral usage, you can’t go wrong with The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook.

One of the best brand storytelling sites on the web is Microsoft Stories. The New York Times also has links to 50 examples of The Times’s best journalism available for a limited time outside of its paywall.

And as for the ethics of journalism, I can think of no better source than “The Journalist’s Creed,” written by Walter Williams (1864-1935), the first dean of the first J-school, the Missouri School of Journalism. Written more than a century ago, it’s worth reading (or re-reading):

“I believe that advertising, news and editorial columns should alike serve the best interests of readers; that a single standard of helpful truth and cleanness should prevail for all; that the supreme test of good journalism is the measure of its public service.”

Walter Williams, 1914

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