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Felix Cheong Presents: 8 Steps to Telling Great Stories

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Felix Cheong is a local award-winning writer with 10 books under his name, including Vanishing Point, and Singapore Siu Dai. He has also written for various publications as a freelance writer and spoken at writer’s festivals around the world, from Edinburgh to Hong Kong. Bolt was lucky enough to host the master himself for a workshop, where Cheong shared his techniques and philosophies to a group of eager participants. If you missed it, here’s what you need to know:

Making great content

What is great content, and how can you tell how relevant it is for your audience? These were the questions addressed during the first part of the workshop. While these tips were given in the context of creating news pieces, they can also be used to create great marketing content!

1.Impact


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Taking into account how much impact a story has on the reader is one of the most obvious ways to create relevant content. Keep in mind that content that may be of no consequence to the general public may be of great importance to a niche group of people. Eg: the release of a new Lord of The Rings video game trailer.

2. Proximity


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Events that hit close to home are more relevant. An earthquake in Indonesia and one in Scandinavia will carry a different impact for a typical reader in Southeast Asia.

3. Prominence

French soldier patrol near the Eiffel Tower in Paris as part of the highest level of "Vigipirate" security plan after a shooting at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo January 9, 2015. The two main suspects in the weekly satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo killings were sighted on Friday in the northern French town of Dammartin-en-Goele where at least one person had been taken hostage, a police source said. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes (FRANCE - Tags: MILITARY CRIME LAW POLITICS)
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News affecting celebrities, other well-know individuals and places can offer some great content that will be appealing for readers as well. Sources can range from local to international. Events like the Paris attacks and the bird flu in Hong Kong are examples of this type of content.

The media coverage of the bombings in Paris compared to the ones in Beirut the day after also provide an interesting case study. Media outlets placed more emphasis on Paris because it was one of the most visited cities in the world, and had a higher chance of affecting more people.

4. Human Interest

Source: Humans of New York

A piece that offers a different look at everyday people can be a great piece too. Underdog stories, a biography piece on a prominent CEO or an insider’s look into an unusual job can add value and interest to readers.

5. Novelty

A rare, unusual event that catches the eye of the public like snakes fighting outside a university or fish raining down in Sri Lanka are some pieces that are bound to intrigue. Remember, dog bites man is not news. Man bites dog is news.

6. Conflict


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The epitome of human drama – conflict – strikes a chord with many readers and makes them feel empathetic or even offer readers a channel to  indulge in schadenfreude. These pieces don’t only involve conflicts between countries, but events like riots or spiteful partners antagonising each other during a divorce can also fall into this category.

7. Currency

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Source: Nabisco

In this sense, currency is referred to what is currently being discussed by the general public. A great source for this is social media. Buzzsumo is a great place for you to check out which articles or topics are currently trending as well.

In 2013, Oreo leveraged on the Super Bowl blackout with this tweet: ‘You Can Still Dunk In The Dark’. A 30-second ad during the Super Bowl that year costed an average of S$4 million. But with one timely tweet, Oreo managed to garner over 15,000 retweets and over 6,000 likes at the time of this writing. Adweek also ranked the tweet as one of the top 5 ads of the night.

8. Media Event

Press conferences and product launches fall into this category. Steve Jobs unveiling the first generation iPad in 2010, or celebrities being interviewed for a new movie are some examples of this.

Bolt Workshops

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Bolt Workshops are a series of monthly lectures conducted by some of the finest writers and marketing gurus in Singapore. We aim to provide more insight to the world of content marketing, help writers improve their writing skills and to establish a community of passionate and eager writers. Find out more about our events here or follow us on Facebook.