As destination marketers, we talk a lot about telling stories and its importance in luring travelers to your community.
Storytelling is an easy term to say and throw around when developing content and strategy, but what does it really mean? And, more importantly, how do you do it?
First, accept the truth: Every place has a story. I’ll even take it a step further and say every person has a story.
That is, after all, what makes content marketing so effective. It’s the one thing that everybody shares and consequently everyone engages with.
Storytelling is a powerful tool and arguably the most effective device for broadcasting a brand message.
So, eliminate the notion that a place is too small, too boring, too void of attractions to have a story. Everyone has a story.
So, how do you find these stories?
The answers are all around you. It’s just a matter of focusing your search. That’s where this list comes in.
Start with Your Go-Tos
Most tourism promotion agencies have friends, business owners and community leaders who enthusiastically support your purpose and are always willing to lend a hand.
Start with their stories. Have a candid discussion about what they feel is the community’s strongest assets, their personal experiences with them and why they find them worthy of a traveler’s time.
These are your front-liners, those who have a stake in the tourism market and come face-to-face with visitors every day. And these don’t have to be businesses directly linked to hospitality. Any entrepreneur who went through all the trouble to set up shop probably has a good reason and big commitment to the community. Get their stories.
Tourism-related projects are a no-brainer, but even a company that’s new to town can give some insight into what makes it a great location.
Project leaders might have some compelling commentary on what made the community desirable for them and how they sell it to prospective employees when recruiting.
Watch the News
Not just TV. Watch any and every local news source, watch your social media feeds, watch out for cool things happening in your community. Then track down these people and places for the real scoop.
Find an Expert
What are your biggest draws? What travel trends can you take advantage of?
Determine those assets, then find an influencer to talk about it. If you have an abundance of hiking trails, get tips on best places from the local club. If you have great craft beer, find a nearby blogger to comment on the quality. Locavore restaurants, farmers markets? These are great places to get great recipes to share with digital content.
Talk to Them
Once you’ve found your sources, it’s time to get their stories. Whether you capture it on camera or punch it up in an article, the collection method is the same: Talk to them.
You don’t have to be a professional journalist to have a conversation. And that is the true secret to a great interview – simply have a chat.
Questions are important. And you should have a handful as a rough outline for where you want things to go. But, it’s never necessary or advised to stay on script. You could miss the little nuggets that only come out during candid conversation.
Venue is important as well. The key is to make things comfortable. In person is great, over the phone is fine, but email should be used very sparingly if at all.
It gives your source too much time to think about their answers and you end up with responses more akin to a survey than an authentic statement.
Everyone’s got a story. You just need to know where to watch, who you’re looking for and how to connect with them to get your destination’s most valuable assets.