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Move the Meter: How Harvey Reminds us of the Power of Human Storytelling

How a national event infuses consumers and communicators alike with empathy and a humanitarian lens
September 4, 2017

For news junkies — and at SE2 there are several of us — this has been quite a week. The tragic flooding in Texas is surely a once-in-a-generation news event. We have been awed and shaken by the stories, social media updates, broadcasts and photos of the storm and those in its path.

In addition to being a poignant reminder of Mother Nature’s might, Harvey also reminds us of the incredible emotional impact of truthful and effective communications.

As our editorial strategist Katharine Brenton discovered, images of Harvey’s wrath, like these curated by The Atlantic, communicate the scale of this tragedy far more powerfully than words. As Senior Account Manager Lauren Schott read recently, documentary-style video is becoming increasingly mainstream as brands seek to tell compelling nonfiction stories and invite audiences into narratives that feel similar to news features.

Tragedies like Harvey have an immediate and widespread effect on the world of marketing, infusing consumers and communicators alike with a sense of purpose and humanitarian aid. It reminds us that words and images communicate the values, mission and spirit of their composers.

Whether it’s a live news update, a podcast, a live social media story or an extensive messaging document, integrity and empathy remain paramount.

Our team reflected on the power of the human story in our industry reading this week.

Senior Account Manager Lauren Schott:
As we continue the trend of capturing glimpses into others’ lives to better understand the people in our world, what comes to mind time and time again is that struggle is universal, and that humans are an incredibly resilient race. I am excited to see that this famous snapshot of humanity — Humans of New York — is going to be brought to life in video form.

VP of Strategy and Operations Brandon Zelasko:
Here’s an important fact: Since January, the average number of engagements on Facebook posts from brands and publishers dropped by more than 20 percent, while during that same period, engagement on video posts from brands and publishers held fairly steady. That may be why Facebook is likely working towards forcing brands to invest heavily in video storytelling. If you haven’t toyed with video, or don’t have the resources or know-how, this is the time to start. Those brands that fail to prepare will have a distinct disadvantage compared to their competitors who do. And as our Project Manager Kathleen Ryan pointed out, as mobile consumption ever increases, vertical video ads are becoming increasingly mainstream among publishers.

Content Strategist Ali Nipert:
Every Millennial’s favorite frenemies, Spencer and Heidi Pratt of MTV’s The Hills, are taking baby naming to the next level. Spencer recently said in an interview that the couple chose their baby’s name by searching for available social media handles — and that they’ve already secured said handles for the yet-to-be-born little one. Yes, really. As Spencer said, “I would just like my baby to be a professional content maker.” Raising the bar for new parents everywhere.

Director of Outreach and Engagement Eric Anderson:
Is your digital strategy mobile first? Even NPR’s graying audience has passed this tipping point.

Graphic Designer Nate Balfour:
Want an insider’s look at the most popular design trends in 2017? Look no further than your social media feeds. Bold, distinct color, typography and photography are becoming this year’s norms, and are especially applicable to social media posts. Also worth noting is that the new(ish) Instagram logo and Google apps seem to have sparked a new trend in saturated and vibrant color use.

Editorial Strategist Katharine Brenton:
The way we gather and consume local news continues to transform. There has been growth among alt-weeklies publishing online, but in general, these publications (think: Westword and the Colorado Springs Independent) are in decline. Just this week, The Village Voice announced it would end its weekly publication after more than 60 years in print.

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