Chris Evans Chris Evans

Editor with a love for digging out the best way to tell a story for a variety of audiences

Struggling for a story idea? Just think differently

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DARE to be different. It might sound like the sort of life lesson from a doting parent to their child but it’s just as true when it comes to nurturing a magazine or newspaper.

Give your readers something unexpected and there’s a greater chance that they’ll remember it and tell others about it too. That, surely, has to be the aim of any piece of work, whatever the audience. Whether it’s an employee engagement project or a popular newsstand title. So taking an innovative or slightly off-kilter approach to the most straightforward story could make all the difference.

Try thinking differently. It becomes infectious and broadens your appeal. I was faced recently with a growing innovations team that were starting to look at creating new, technical solutions for a workforce of engineers. I’d seen a series of internal comms pieces profiling the new tools they were trialling, but when it came to doing a story for the company’s internal-facing publication, we didn’t want to conform.

By taking a step back from the immediate news, we came up with a treatment that transformed the team into a group of pioneers providing gadgets for their agents, just like James Bond’s celebrated Quartermaster, Q. What followed was a suave 007-type photo shoot and feature that had the team bursting with pride at being part of a not-so-secret service.

A simple creative twist made a huge difference and sparked a powerful reaction from our readership. The story was shared and read, and people have been talking about the story since. In a nutshell that’s what it’s all about. Making an apparently corporate dry story more readable and more engaging by looking at topics through different eyes. Do that and the message you want to convey is being spoken about by more people, but in a subtler, less obvious way.

My favourite sort of story is something that’s quite offbeat and it turns out that it’s the same for a lot of audiences too. So go on, try something different.

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