The secret to creating memorable content

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We all like to post visual content of our products or services to bring eyeballs into our sites. Often times, the content looks like a well-polished ad, sometimes too polished.

Instead of creating something that is overly directed with excessively rehearsed corporate talking heads, try to discover the real ambassadors that can tell your story. It's more of a journalistic approach rather an agency approach. Ambassadors are the people who breathe life into your brand. They don’t need to be coached as to what to say — they just do it authentically, like Jerry Quinn, who lives at Episcopal Homes of MN.

In this story that I produced for Episcopal Homes, we learn that Jerry has lost his joy for life after his wife Barbara passed away. Nothing was scripted for Jerry. My primary mission was to have an authentic conversation with him. I did not whip out a list of questions while the cameras rolled, we simply had a real conversation.

When conducting the on-camera interview, or better yet, conversation, my primary mission was to honor Jerry’s presence. When we honor presence, we discover the authentic soul of the story. We discover the emotion, and we always remember the emotion. Honoring presence also sends the message to Jerry that I care about him, that I am listening to him. Who doesn’t want to be listened to?

You will see that there are no executive corporate talking heads in this story. There is a time and place for those talking heads, but I feel we go to them too often.

In Jerry’s story, nothing was staged, just real moments captured on camera with real people who are in the natural environment of the story — Jerry and the students from St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. The end result is a story that has real heartfelt moments that ultimately sell the organization. It’s more believable than a polished ad.

Not that long ago, I was speaking to a group of students at the University of Minnesota. The topic was visual storytelling. One student asked me what was my secret to have won over 20 Emmys? That’s a good question. I told the group something that surprised them: It’s never about the camera or all the fancy gear. I expect that a trained photographer knows how to use gear and frame up a shot and hit the record button.

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Honoring presence is the secret. When we do that, we discover the heart … and the heart is believable. In other words, get close with your heart, not your lens. I'm not just talking about honoring your subject's presence, but your client's as well.

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Think about it, what do we all want? We all want to be honored and respected. We all want to feel that our presence is felt. In Jerry's story, he told me that he had a natural connection with me because he felt that I cared about him, and I do. I honored his presence and made him feel comfortable. He opened up to me in a heartfelt way. If you are struggling to do this, allow your empathy to kick in. It’s ok to be empathetic, in fact, it might be one of your strongest skills. Daniel Goleman, author of the popular book Emotional Intelligence, shares more about the power of empathy.

When you start to strategize your digital content to promote your organization, try to approach it in a more organic and authentic way. Discover the ambassadors and capture the moments. It might not be as perfect and polished as a high-end ad, but you might be surprised as to how much more believable it will be. 

Mark Anderson is the Chief Storyteller and CEO of Creative Soul Video, a marketing communications company specializing in video production & visual storytelling. He's also an Executive Producer/Consultant for the i. e. Network. Mark has won over 20 Emmys for his work as a visual storyteller for his extensive work in broadcast news. 

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