You’ve encountered story angles before, but you might not know it if you haven’t been looking for them. When done correctly, story angles are almost invisible.
Writing with angles isn’t something you’ll often see in discussions around business writing. It’s a journalism term — sometimes referred to as a personal angle, or a media angle. In the traditional sense, it’s designed to be the human interest narrative of the piece.
Think about the last major natural disaster you saw covered through print or broadcast media. That coverage often starts with a story about a family that lost everything. A tornado hit their house or they had to be rescued via helicopter because the rising floodwaters forced them to climb onto the roof.
Sounds familiar, right?
Those are human interest story angles. They’re designed to help the audience see the event from a unique and relatable perspective. Today, we’re going to talk about how to apply a similar technique to your business content in a way that makes it more relatable to your target audience.
Ready? Let’s go.
You’re familiar with human interest story angles. But how do business story angles work?
Simply put, angles for your content are just lenses that you can use to filter and dissect what you’re trying to say. It doesn’t have to be a story about people or anything like that. It just needs to approach the topic in a unique and engaging way.
(For reference, my angle in THIS piece was acknowledging story angles themselves and telling you that you already know what they are. Even if you’ve never heard the term, I’m broaching the topic with you by telling you that you’ve been exposed to story angles before.)
Story angles are a prism that helps you segment a narrative and highlight the relevant details for your intended audience. If you’re familiar with audience segmentation from marketing this is similar, but it’s still a little different.
In the past, I’ve touched on how you can use your brand story to win new business, so let’s use that idea to explain the idea of story angles and the storytelling prism. I don’t even need to know the specifics of your story to show you how it works.
Every business has a story. If two photographers open their studios at the same time, in a year, they’ll both have a different set of experiences based on the clients they’ve worked with and the jobs they’ve undertaken. They might be speaking to the same audience, but they’ll have an entirely different collection of stories to help them define their value proposition to prospective clients.
Story angles give them the ability to do that.
Let’s dive a little bit further with an example:
Bob of Bob’s Photo Studio has a great idea for a blog post. Bob wants to talk about how gray, overcast skies are great for photos. Gray clouds diffuse light, and that makes everything easier for everyone. The light is softer, and nobody squints. The only drawback is that the sky is boring and gray.
But that idea, by itself, is unfocused. It can go in way too many directions. Bob needs to repurpose that idea to something that’s more suited to his client’s specific needs and interests. Fortunately, he’s got a pretty good handle on each of his client categories. He knows who he’s talking to.
That’s where a storytelling prism can help. Take a look:
Bob can combine his situational experience and his professional expertise, as well as his training, knowledge, and business savvy with a little bit of research to change the output of the original idea. In this example, I’ve split this out into four separate ideas, one for each of Bob’s clients.
Bob decides to use this information to build a series. He’s still telling the story of how and why overcast skies are great for photos, but now he’s using story angles to retarget and divide that single idea toward each of his clients.
The storytelling prism is really here to show you two things:
- By far, the best way to generate lasting, meaningful content is to consider who will read it.
- This process isn’t magic. It’s a combination of skills, experience, and research.
Sitting down and writing the blog posts might not be Bob’s forte. He might not have the time or the patience (or the way with words) to do it. But he has a pretty good idea of what he wants to say.
He could hire a writer to do that for him, or he could talk to a content strategist to help him build out the idea a little more.
From the chart in the last section, you can see that a lot of unique and interesting angles come from personal experience. Bob’s years of photography training, his interaction with clients, and his time on the job make him a wellspring of conversational topics around photography — even if he doesn’t know it.
But what about research? It’s an option, and it’s certainly the odd one out in the graphic above. Let’s discuss using these two stats:
- Smartphone users replace their phones every 24 months.
- People change jobs 12 times over the course of a career.
Both of those statistics are true, and they’re both great springboards for content generation. With a statistic like that, I could write a few blog posts or content articles around the idea of change, refreshed technology, or career hopping.
It all depends on my angle of approach, my target customer, and my business agenda. Research is always a great starting point to find unique and interesting story angles because it gives you a chance to see what everyone else is doing before you add your voice to the conversation.
If I were Bob and I saw those stats, I might want to go in another direction. Maybe I’d talk about change and how quickly our lives evolve while pointing out that photos are memories that never change. I might push my reader (potential photography clients) to take photos more frequently because a lot happens in two years.
Statistically, the reader will have a new phone by then!
For an article like this, I’m talking about memories through the lens of rapid change. That’s my angle. I’m saying, “Hey, all these things change and you change with them, but you don’t update your photos as often as you should.”
If you were to really simplify the message that Bob is sending out, it would be, “Come get your photos done more often.” But because we’re wrapping that message up in a content piece about change and lifestyle, it doesn’t come across as a hard sell for Bob’s photography services. It’s a softer message that appeals to a broad but well-targeted audience.
Whether you’re trying to write your own articles for your brand or you’re working with a contractor like me, your experience is valuable. If you’re operating a business, you’re the only one who really knows what it’s like to do it on a daily basis. You have insights into your customers, their needs, and their pain points that can give you a lot of credibility in the space.
Just because you don’t have a skill in something — writing, video, technology, social media, etc. — doesn’t mean that you should hire some outside help and disengage from the process entirely.
That’s a terrible idea.
All too often, I see thinly-veiled sales pitches make it to blogs because the writer didn’t take the time to handle the idea or concept with care. It’s always a missed opportunity, both for the business and for the audience, especially since writing is such an essential part of the customer journey.
If you need help with content generation or strategy, get in touch. I’d love to chat with you about growth opportunities for your brand and how I can help.