How you can use alternative story formats in your branded content

By: David Arkin
May 2, 2024
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Going beyond the traditional narrative story, where applicable, can make a branded content story stand out and make it more effective to communicate the message of the article.

Here, we’ve detailed what alternative formats we’ve had the most success with, as well as suggested story types those formats work best for.

Listicles/Guides/FAQs

Sometimes doing a “how-to” or a directory/listicle is the easiest way to communicate information. For example, if you’re profiling a tourist destination, tell people what they need to know before they go or what the best elements are.

How to do it: Identify 5-10 of the most important facts or pieces of information the story should highlight. These can be pretty easy to pull together, but you want to make sure you’ve got enough information where the article is still helpful. Remember Google E-E-A-T formula to know what points you should hit.

Good for: Event-based stories, technical or explainer stories

Example: https://www.stlmag.com/branded-content/must-visit-summer-encounters-at-wonders-of-wildlife-national-museum-and-aquarium/

Bold subheads

This format helps move a story along, tying back to 2-3 key focuses or concepts of the story. Subheads are also indexed on Google, so using subheads with keywords is also a great strategy for SEO purposes.

How to do it: Identify overarching topics of the story or important keywords that you want indexed on Google. Just make sure the subheads add to the flow of the story and make sense, as you don’t want to ruin the reader’s experience.

Good for: Business profiles where you are highlighting specific services or elements of the business

Example: https://www.liherald.com/stories/year-round-garden-design,205756?

Q&As

This is a great tool to use when you’re profiling a business or business owner and also to communicate technical information or information that requires a lot of explanation. What better way to explain than to let the pro do it?

How to do it: You can either send the source a Q&A to complete via email, but you can also take the key points from an interview and use this format to focus on those points. You can either directly quote the source or summarize each answer from your interview.

Good for: Profile stories (people or business), Client testimonials, Technical stories that require lots of explanation, Sources that are very quotable

Example: https://www.stlmag.com/branded-content/get-to-know-7-women-business-owners-thriving-in-the-colonial-marketplace-shopping-center/

Photo galleries, video and reels

If a story is more visual or offers great photos or video that help tell the story, consider prioritizing using those to help tell the story.

How to do it: Shoot original photos or video or use existing marketing materials that exist for the advertiser and embed them.

Good for: Business profile stories to show off the space, people profile stories where you can include clips from an interview, event-based stories, stories highlight specific products or services

Example: https://starlocalmedia.com/sponsored_content/meet-the-latest-builder-to-join-the-painted-tree-community-trophy-signature-homes/article_28cf18b0-b3dc-11ee-9f4b-47eb25fd06fd.html

By the Numbers/Infographics

This format is great for numbers-driven stories, or if your story has a specific number that’s noteworthy or worth highlighting.

How to do it: For a By the Numbers story, you can treat numbers as bold subheads. You can also use them to create infographics. We recommend using a resource like Canva to help get a quality graphic if you’re going to create one.

Good for: Stories on an advertiser’s expertise, stories highlighting a business or nonprofits impact

Example: https://www.liherald.com/stories/5-reasons-to-live-in-rockville-centre-tiffany-balanoff,193193

David Arkin Consulting specializes in branded content creation and strategy. Contact us at david@davidarkinconsulting.com today.

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