How to Turn Your Data Into Stories

3 min read · 8 years ago



Have you heard that including numbers in your media pitch will attract journalist attention? Apparently, so has everyone else. Over the holidays New York Post business reporter, John Crudele, published an article sarcastically “gifting” coverage to a select handful of PR people whose pitches had originally gone unanswered. Why these pitches were unsuccessful is explored in-depth on the Bad Pitch Blog, but a common thread among them was using—and assuming—an unusual statistic or trend was enough to get Crudele’s attention. As evidenced by Crudele’s blunt reaction, numbers alone aren’t enough to get media coverage. What journalists are really looking for is the story behind the number that is relevant to their beat and the interests of their readers.

Knowing what makes a good story and how to find that story within your organization can help you refine your media pitches and engage customers more successfully. The following tips from storytelling experts Rachel Zarrell, reporter and weekend editor of Buzzfeed, Ginny Pulos, founder and president of Ginny Pulos Communications, Inc, and Marcia Stepanek, president and founder of Brand Stories, can help brands uncover the stories within their business that connect to customers.

Answer the “so what?”

According to Pulos, a good story is:

  • Brief
  • True
  • Engages an emotion
  • Ends on a high point
  • Is told in the present tense

In a nutshell, the story must get to the heart of why people will care.

Use nut grafs.

As defined by The Poynter Insititute, the purpose of a nut graf is to “tell the reader what the writer is up to; it delivers a promise of the story’s content and message.”

Pulos suggests using nut grafs as an exercise in how to tell your business story effectively and concisely to journalists.

“I was on a panel about social media and learned that a company’s about page should have a two-line description, 50-word description, and a longer piece. This way if a journalist needs to grab something or tweet about you, they have something short they can use, something longer they can use if you are a speaker at an event, and a full-length description for your clients,” she says.

Incorporate figurative language.

Pulos also recommends using metaphors to tell a story, and refers to the late Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, as an example of a great storyteller who coined the phrase that an iPhone is “a life in your pocket.”

At Buzzfeed, Zarrell reveals that hyperbolic words such as heartbreaking, heartwarming, awesome, amazing tend to attract the most clicks.

Visualize your story.

I won’t write anything that doesn’t have a visual element to it. When I am creating a story, I build it around the visual,” says Zarrell, “The way we narrate things around the visuals when telling a story is getting to the thing people care about very quickly, because people don’t want to waste their time.”

Stepanek agrees, arguing that visuals are “the fastest way to get an emotional impact along with information,” as well as proving the credibility of a story with tangible evidence.

For B2B companies with intangible products, videos and infographics are an opportunity to measure impact or prove that the company is able to do what it says its doing.

Stepanek predicts that the next phase of the media evolution will be to measurement content based on how a video or story emotionally moves an audience.

Bottom line?

Numbers are just numbers, and they aren’t always easy to remember in the first place. What journalists and their audiences will remember in the end is how your story made them feel.

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: How to Turn Your Data Into Stories

More Technology & Innovation articles from Business 2 Community: