Engaging Your Audience Through Storytelling

At the heart of B2B writing, editing, and design is a simple goal — telling a great story.

At the morning networking event on the second day of the 2022 ASBPE annual conference, held in Cleveland, Ohio, Stephanie Ricca, editorial director of Hotel News Now and secretary of ASBPE’s board of directors, led a discussion on “What Makes Compelling, Award-Winning Storytelling?” Every year, ASBPE recognizes outstanding B2B journalism through the Azbee Awards – with categories highlighting overall excellence and other significant, interesting work by individual writers, editors, and teams in print, digital and design. 

At the informal, town hall discussion, Ricca first asked Megan Gates, the recipient of the 2022 Stephen Barr Award, and winner of a National Gold in Feature Writing to discuss the process behind her winning article.

“My beat is fraud,” said Gates. “And I tried to find the intersection between what our security audience cares about and what they need to know about fraud. It started simply. I got an email pitch on research into synthetic identity fraud.”

The aspect of the piece that became a compelling story was “humanizing the topic,” according to Gates. The research into criminal cases gave the story the details that readers could connect with.

Other attendees gave their tips about storytelling:

  • “Cultivate sources, be in constant contact with your industry,” Megan Smalley, Associate Editor, Recycling Today Media Group and ASBPE Vice President.
  • “Look for innovation within your industry,” Brooke Bilyj, owner of Bantamedia. As an example, Bilyj shared the example of a story about healthcare professionals using walkie talkies to allow COVID-19 patients to communicate with loved ones safely.
  • “What is important to the industry, but not necessarily what they want to hear? Taking a risk is important. It changes people’s minds.” Davide Savenije, Editor-in-Chief, Industry Dive and ASBPE board member.

Ricca also spoke to those who sought change in the industry around DE&I. She noted that “volunteering for ASBPE is a great way to make changes in our workplaces and in our publications.” ASBPE accepts volunteers for committee positions, chapter involvement and educational session presenters. To get involved, members can fill out our Volunteer Interest Form at any time. 

ASBPE plans to feature more great educational sessions at its 2023 National Conference, which will take place May 11-12, 2023. The location is to be announced. Stay tuned to ASBPE.org and ASBPE’s social channels to keep up to date. 

Teresa Anderson

Teresa Anderson is vice president of content at ASIS International where she oversees content strategy and leads the book publishing and magazine divisions. She is also editor-in-chief of ASIS’s flagship publication, Security Management. Anderson started her career at Security Management when she was hired as an editorial assistant in 1993. Since then, she has served in a variety of positions, performing most of the editorial duties at the magazine at one time or another. Anderson previously served on the executive committee for the ASBPE National Board of Directors.

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