Strategy & Storytelling

How to Move Hearts, Change Minds and Sell Big Ideas that Change the World

8 Types of Articles for Business-to-Business Storytelling

#1. Profile

Objective: Inspire or teach audience by telling a story about a person, team or company--to reveal valuable real-world lessons.

Example: Eversource Energy’s New Approach to Change Management in Fleet (Utility Fleet Professional)

Structure:

  • Lede: Create interest, provide context to a problem that needs a solution, setup narrative.
  • Main Body: Tell a story of how they arrived at the solution--and results experienced.
    • Introduce the solution.
    • Provide details about the solution.
    • Explain WHY they chose the solution.
    • Reveal the results.
  • Kicker: Key takeaways, parting advice, or conclusions “moving forward.”

#2. Narrative

Objective: Educate audience about a trend. (This is similar to a profile but instead of covering a single subject [person, team, company], it unpacks a larger trend.)

Example: The Future of Drones in the U.S. Utility Market (Utility Fleet Professional)

Structure:

  • Lede: Create interest, introduce a trend, provide relevant stats.
  • Main Body:
    • Talk about challenges and constraints that could block trend.
    • Discuss what industry is to overcome challenges.
    • Outline what the future could hold.
  • Kicker: Close with a compelling quote.

#3. Listicle

Objective: Educate audience by putting together a list of “keys,” “strategies,” “factors to consider,” “questions to ask,” “ideas,” “points,” “trends,” etc.

Example: 7 Success Strategies for Expedite Owner-Operators (Expedite Now)

Structure:

  • Lede: Create interest, provide context, setup list.
  • Main Body: List points.
  • Kicker: Tie it all together. Close with salient quote or pithy saying.

#4. How-To

Objective: Educate audience with advice/ tips to achieve a certain objective.

Example: 3 Hacks to Improve Your Service Fleet’s Ergonomics (and Economics) (Field Service Digital)

Structure:

  • Lede: Create interest, provide context, setup the “how-to” steps or tips
  • Main Body: List steps or tips. (Tips can be self-contained, meaning they can be listed in any order or added/deleted without changing meaning or flow of the piece. Steps must follow a certain order and cannot be deleted without changing the meaning.)
  • Kicker: Tie it all together. Reinforce benefit of following the advice. If appropriate, provide call-to-action.

#5. Roundup

Objective: Inform audience by pulling together different products, people, or ideas that relate to a unifying theme.

Example: What’s New in Truck Bodies for Utility Fleets (Utility Fleet Professional)

Structure:

  • Lede: Create interest, provide context, setup roundup.  
  • Main Body: Build each section as a self-contained component. (You can insert or delete a “component” without disrupting the flow of the piece.
  • Kicker: None required in a roundup. End article with final “component.”

#6. Q&A

Objective: Inform audience with an unfiltered conversation with an expert.

Example: The State of Electrified Pickups in the North American Market (Utility Fleet Professional)

Structure:

  • Lede: Create interest, provide context, introduce expert/ source.
  • Main Body: Questions and answers that follow an interesting progression.
  • Kicker: None required in Q&A. End article with source’s last answer.

#7. Essay/ Op-Ed

Objective: Persuade audience to be open to my point of view.

Example: Why Truckers Will Still Have Jobs in a Self-Driving Future (ExpeditersOnline.com)

Structure:

  • Lede: Create interest, state thesis, setup argument.
  • Main Body:
    • Build argument; state reasons
    • Anticipate objections
  • Kicker: Reaffirm conclusion

#8. Straight News/ Press Release

Objective: Update audience on new information.

Example: Expedite Expo’s Growth Leads to New Venue in 2016

Structure:

  • Lede: News: Who? What? Where? When?
  • Main Body:
    • High-level context
    • Source quote
    • Second-level context
    • Source quote
    • Third-level context
    • Source quote
  • Kicker: For more details [insert call-to-action] …

 

Topic vs. Angle: What's the Difference?

Example #1:

  • Topic: The State of Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging
  • Angle: Could Cutting the Cord Accelerate Electric Vehicle Growth?

Example #2:

  • Topic: Storytelling for Service Executives
  • Angle: Why Storytelling Might Be the Best Kept Secret in Service Management

Example #3:

  • Topic: Latest Developments in Autonomous Vehicles
  • Angle: 3 Self-Driving Developments That Could Shape the Future of Field Service

Example #4:

  • Topic: Humility in Executive Leadership
  • Angle: How Great Leaders Break Free from the Ego Trap

Example #5:

  • Topic: Latest Developments in Alt-Fuel Vehicles
  • Angle: The State of Electrified Pickup Trucks in the North American Market

Example #6:

  • Topic: Truck and Van Upfits for Better Ergonomics
  • Angle: 3 Hacks to Improve Your Service Fleet’s Ergonomics (and Economics)

The bottom line...

Topic = general description; Angle = specific direction.

So what?

A common cause for writer's block: Trying to write on a topic instead of an angle. That's because a topic is too broad to cover in any meaningful way in a short-form piece. The angle narrows your focus, giving you a clear direction to make the research and writing processes much easier.

~ Sean

© Sean M. Lyden, All Rights Reserved