Storytelling For Brands: The Editorial Starter Pack
In this step-by-step guide to launching longform, we break down our approach to editorial strategy into tasty, bite-sized pieces with your cool brand story front of mind.By Rose Howard
So, you want to finally launch that content platform you’ve been dreaming of your whole life. First of all, how exciting. Second, we are HERE for this. Editorial runs in our blood. Teasing out meaningful/funny/informative/relatable stories for brands is our happy place. Done well, a solid editorial strategy will help bolster your authority, improve website SEO and drive traffic, boost sales or bookings, and deepen your connection to your customer by giving back useful knowledge and something to remember—your story.
But we also get that the journey to long-form is often, well, long. If you run a small business, or any business for that matter, you’ve got a lot on your plate. Slowly, you might chip away at your online presence. First comes the website, then the socials, followed by a solid email newsletter to help directly drive bookings and sell more things (we have packages for each step). And it’s often only after that marathon has been run (sometimes years later) that you might say, HEY, maybe it’s time to flex a little. If so, this guide’s for you—a checklist of things to master, from setting objectives to content pillars, distribution, and everything in between.
Can I just save time and resources and not do this?
Sure, buuuuut. Everyone knows website editorial is important and for most, it’s not a question of if, but when. Take our mate Joel Amos, for example. (He’s the founding father of DRNKS, one of Australia’s original natural wine delivery guys, for those not familiar). He came to us recently to help bring his editorial idea to life, which he’d been more or less thinking about since launching the site back in 2013. The brief? Make it inclusive and informative. Make it not boring. No wine wank, just the good stuff. And so Loose Lips was born. It’s really great, check it out.
In his own words: “We’ve always avoided the traditional 'OMG wine is so boring' angle that for some reason people still keep pushing out there,” he said. “I just wanted a place that looked and sounded like DRNKS, and Buffet nailed that.” Ahh, thanks Joel.
Hold your horses, get your objectives in order
Before moving ahead on any strategy project, including this one, ask yourself: why am I doing this, again? Seems obvious and a maybe a little existential—however!— laying this foundation will help keep your content focused and effective. A 2-in-1 touchstone and measuring stick, if you will. Rule number one of defining any objective is to start broad and think about how it all ties back to your wider business goals, i.e. sell more things, engage your local community, drive bookings, build brand awareness in a crowded market, and make people generally love you always and forever. Sorted. Next, you want to drill down to the editorial objective, the goals that you’ll measure day-to-day, week-to-week. Make them specific and measurable.
Give it all a nice look and feel, content pillars and a tone of voice
Content pillars, verticals, themes, the thingies. Whatever you like to call them, these matter. So much, it helps to think of them as the scaffolding holding this editorial house up. If you’re already active on feeds and inboxes, you’ll likely have a visual style guide and tone of voice to build from. (If you do not, we’re here to chat!). As a guide, most solid editorial strategies have around four content pillars - or verticals - in place.
For longtime client Archie Rose, we built those pillars around their existing brand values, including community, education and good spirits. Instead of posting articles in a steady stream, we decided to keep it tight and topical, releasing a journal every two months crafted around a chosen theme. When the big, bad virus first hit, for instance, we dropped our original plan and pivoted to Issue #019: Keeping Good Spirits in the Time of COVID-19. Then came the Support Local Issue, and most recently, The Neapolitan Issue celebrating their collab with Messina.
Once you’ve set your major pillars and decided how often you’ll run each, there’s always room to move. Over time, you may find a certain vertical isn’t working. That’s cool. Pull back, revisit those objectives and create a new one to replace it. Perhaps along the way you want to create a capsule series that runs for three months to keep things fresh, give something back, and show off your product. We’re doing it right now, in fact, and making it intergalactic.
Next stop: braindump, plan, create, repeat
Ok, so you’ve landed on your content pillars. At this stage, you’re either letting those long held story ideas spill out in a bout of creative mania, or you’re sitting here thinking, What The Hell Do I Write About Now. As with anything, it helps to create some kind of structure around this braindump-plan-create process. At Buffet, we like to bring the team together every quarter to throw threads of spaghetti (ideas) at the wall (a Google Doc) to see what sticks. Set your content pillars as headings and collect a list of ideas for each, before pulling the winners into an editorial plan.
Remember, always be cross-promoting and making it SEO-friendly
You’ve just sent your first piece live. Now what?! Time to sit back, pour yourself a glass of exploding Pet Nat and watch the page views roll in, right? We wish, but not quite. There are a few ways to boost your reach. SEO is one. As a simple SEO-friendly guide for each article you post, focus on hyperlinking to your own content throughout to keep readers sticking around, as well as weaving in keywords (things people might type into a search engine) into the body copy, headlines and URL to boost your chances of being found on Google’s first page.
Then, there are your owned channels—Instagram, eDM, Facebook, Twitter and so on. Distribution and cross-promotion will play a major role in getting the word out there. Make an Instagram post and Instagram Story about your article. Make it interesting and good-looking enough so it’s impossible for other people not to save and share. If you’ve slaved away to this point building a devoted social following and email subscriber base, we’ve got some good news for you—you’re already starting in a very good place.
A touch overwhelmed? Download the Channel Menu, tasty strategy packs for busy brands. Dive in for details and pricing, then choose from the eDM, editorial or social packs—or the whole feast. Or just get in touch. We love to chat.
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