Every communicator is familiar with the dreaded Obligatory Story.
The topic could be the annual United Way drive, an HR benefits update, or yet another article on that darn sustainability initiative. All of them are worthy, informational topics. But it’s hard to find a new angle, year after year, to convey essentially the same message. There’s always a nagging concern. Is anybody reading this?
But taking a brand journalism approach—covering the story as a feature assignment—can enliven even the most repetitive topics, boost readership and, as a bonus, make your job more fun.
Communicators often organize these Obligatory Stories around the topic. But they instead should focus on the people who are emotionally connected to an activity, said Jim Ylisela, owner and managing partner at Ragan Consulting Group.
“You can’t find the emotional center of a story if you’re not even thinking of it as an actual story—as a narrative,” Ylisela added. “You’re just thinking of it as a thing you have to describe.”
A clear sign that you need to get more creative is when you find yourself bored by your topic, said Jake Jacobson, director of public relations at Children’s Mercy Kansas City.