How Our Story-Inspired Results Depend on Old-School Journalism

We’re passionate about telling stories that get results. We base our strategies on the latest powerful, data-driven insight. So why are we comparing content writing to old-school journalism? You might not picture our brand storytellers getting the scoop and then clacking furiously on typewriters in a smoke-filled newsroom. But our story-inspired results are rooted in the art of good interviewing, good reporting and getting to the heart of what matters. That’s old-school journalism.

Many content writers at Pace started as newspaper reporters. We spoke to some of them about that, and about how the work we do compares. We also nabbed some old-school journalism techniques that we still use to craft a great story.

“I started a neighborhood newspaper when I was a kid,” says Molly McGinn, senior editor at Pace. “Eventually, writers like Hemingway and Mark Twain caught my attention. I followed their careers and knew they both learned how to write by working for newspapers.”

McGinn came to Pace so she could flex her creative muscles. “Once I started working at papers, I realized I wanted more creative freedom, and storytelling provides that.”

Associate Creative Director Tina Firesheets will always infuse her work with journalistic integrity.

“I became a journalist, and the work ethic and training will always remain with me. At heart, I always relate to being a journalist and will always be thankful for the experiences I had and the lessons learned while working at newspapers,” she says.

So, for journalists-turned-storytellers, how does content writing compare to old-school reporting?

“At Pace, we do brand storytelling, or brand journalism,” says McGinn. “I love those emotional stories that give you an immediate connection, insight into the person. Until you have that, you have just stats and facts. I like getting at the heart of who someone is.”

“I use reporting skills in the writing I do for Pace,” says Firesheets. “Interviewing subjects about their accomplishments or challenges or sharing insight into their realm of expertise. Our approach of Report Once, Publish Everywhere is very much a skill and practice that I learned in newsrooms. Because of my journalism experience, it’s incredibly important to me to get the facts correct.”

Copywriter Donovan McKnight loves the old-school interview process. “What I find most rewarding is making contact and interviewing real people for a brand. When I’m talking with them and getting them to share their story with me, that’s when I feel most human. It’s the purest part of our work,” he says.

McGinn says keeping traditional journalism in content writing is a plus for the brands we represent. “I think brands know they need to be more transparent and altruistic in the ways they treat people, and the world from here on out,” she says. “I think our approach to storytelling can help them do that.”

So, what are some time-tested tips for getting the best story?

“If your mother says she loves you, check it out,” says Senior Editor Michael Fuchs, repeating a journalism adage that’s remained relevant. “In other words, verify anything anyone tells you, no matter the source.”

“Fill your notebook,” says Creative Director Michael Grossman. “You want to know way more about a story than you could ever include in the story itself. Don’t just gather enough facts; gather too many so you can pick the best.”

“Never assume you know how to spell someone’s name,” added Fuchs. “And kill your darlings. In other words, there will be things you’d love to include, but don’t be timid about cutting them if they don’t add to the story.”

Pace will continue to use old-school journalism to deliver innovative storytelling because it gets results. “There are so many authentic, people-focused stories that are impactful, inspiring and motivational,” says Firesheets. “A lot of brands are using this as a way of connecting with audiences. We are working toward the greater good and hoping to improve the lives of others in some way, whether it’s through a product, service or simply sharing knowledge.”

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