World Storytelling Day: A Chat with Our In-House Storytellers

Welcome story lovers and word wranglers! This World Storytelling Day we’re celebrating spinning a yarn and weaving a captivating tale. After all, creative storytelling is at the forefront of what we do within content SEO – it engages, entertains, and leaves a lasting impression.

But how exactly do stories translate into the world of content creation? Today we’re getting insight from two of our content whizzes from the organic team: Emily Flude (EF), Senior Content Executive, and Elena Brooke (EB), Content Executive. We’ll be asking them about their personal storytelling journeys, exploring how they incorporate narrative strategies into their work, discussing the ever-evolving role of storytelling in content marketing, and most importantly, which fictional character they would like to have dinner with (spoiler alert, they both pick bears).

What’s your earliest memory of being captivated by a story?

EF: For me, I often enjoy a story accompanied by music so Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Mary Poppins were movies that I especially loved when I was younger. Acting, singing, and dancing all incorporated in one medium kept me captivated over and over again! 

EB: My younger brother and I were gifted a storybook called The Maggie B by my great-grandmother. The story depicts a girl and her baby brother as they wish to be on a beautiful boat for a day. On the boat they have a goat and a peach tree, they paint and enjoy the sea breeze, eat peaches, and drink milk for their supper. My mum would tell us that we were the two sea travellers and the story has always stuck with me – it’s one of my fondest childhood memories.

What is your favourite medium of storytelling and why?

EF: I think theatre performances provide a unique experience of watching a story unfold. I find it appealing that only the audience gets to witness the performance in this specific way. The next day, there could be slight changes in intonation or someone could switch up a line. 

The most impressive theatre performance I’ve seen was when I sat second row for Prima Facie with Jodie Comer performing a one-woman show on the difficult topic of sexual assault. I have never felt so moved watching a live performance before and our closeness to the stage meant that we could see every emotion she was portraying. Seeing acting live and experiencing the emotion of a character standing in front of you can’t compare to watching online for me.

EB: I don’t think you can go wrong with a good book but I do really love theatre. The technical skill as well as the visual creativity of theatre brings stories to life. There are a few stage adaptations of books I have previously that I have seen that have brought a whole new perspective to the tale.

I saw The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time at York Theatre Royal and in that story, there is a scene that takes place on a train. The coordination of the cast to create the physicality of being on a moving vehicle was completely immersive and I’m still incredibly impressed.

How do you define “storytelling” in the context of your content writing work?

EF: As content writers, it’s important that we craft a blog that takes readers on a journey using storytelling. Creating high-quality, engaging content is what makes one blog stand out from another. 

EB: Context is foundational to a good piece of writing and to create clear context requires a level of storytelling. For many clients, blogs and articles are directly related to statistics, law changes, or even the current socioeconomic climate. Putting writing into context requires painting a picture of the word to illustrate why an article is important and worth reading.

What are some challenges you face in incorporating storytelling into content that needs to adhere to specific guidelines?

EF: SEO-optimised content is all about producing the best copy in the eyes of search engines. We could produce an abstract poem to explain a topic, but we know that an all-encompassing guide with best practice HTML structure, high volume keywords included, appropriate tone of voice, and internal linking is much more likely to perform better. Although we have some flexibility in what we write, we must look at our content from an algorithmic perspective first and foremost.

EB: Particularly in the sphere of writing for the purposes of search engine optimisation, it can be hard to balance creative writing and storytelling with having to meet guidelines and rules. A huge part of storytelling in writing is based on creativity which can sometimes feel hindered by a need to use keywords at a certain regularity. However, that’s part of the fun of SEO copywriting – working a way to balance creativity with technical box-ticking.

Despite those guidelines, how do you still manage to weave compelling narratives into your content?

EF: Although we have to think of content according to search engines’ guidelines, it is also just as important to produce content that is engaging for users to actually want to stay on the site after clicking through. People search for information so often online, that it is beneficial to create content that is easy to digest and formatted in a clear way for people to find the answer they are looking for, e.g. with useful subheadings. If a user clicks on a blog that is a full block of text with no separate paragraphs, they’ll likely seek out the information elsewhere on the next organic result on the SERP for a more user-friendly experience. Therefore, our storytelling needs structure and clarity to be successful.

Looking ahead, how do you see the role of storytelling evolving in content marketing?

EF: If search engines begin to severely penalise websites using AI in blogs, we can stand out from the crowd with unique content that you can tell is written by humans with creativity, personality and emotion that robotic content can not compete with. I also think people’s attention spans might decline as years go by, so we’ll need to keep content snappy and engaging from the get-go.

EB: Methods have to adapt with the audiences. As generations, such as millennials and Gen Z, get older and the younger generations grow up, the means by which we use storytelling in content marketing will have to grow with them. Trends are always important in marketing and it will be interesting to see what evolutions are coming in the following years and decades.

If you could have dinner with any fictional character, who would it be and why?

EF: I think Paddington Bear would be a wholesome and cute dinner date, I think he would make the conversation interesting and have me giggling throughout. I’d like to hear about his recent trip to Peru. 

EB: The teddy bear from the Teddy Bear’s picnic because who doesn’t want to have a chin-wag in the sun with some pals and sandwiches? 

Inspire Inclusion: International Women’s Day 2024 with Fusion Unlimited

This year’s International Women’s Day theme, Inspire Inclusion, resonates deeply with our team, especially considering the incredible women who drive our agency forward. Here at Fusion, we’re proud to boast a team where 69% of our talented individuals are women, with strong female representation within our senior management team.

Today, we’re thrilled to celebrate these inspiring leaders. We’ll be diving into conversations with Katie Harling (KH), our Joint Managing Director, Jen Mottram (JM), our Paid Director, and Lauren Wray (LW), our Account Director. Through their stories and insights, we’ll explore what inclusion truly means in the workplace, the challenges and triumphs of navigating leadership in a dynamic industry, and the invaluable advice they have for the next generation of female leaders.

International Women’s Day’s theme this year is ‘Inspire Inclusion’, what does inclusion mean to you in the context of the workplace?

KH: This year’s theme is important to me. We have worked hard on Fusion’s culture in the hope that everyone who is part of the team enjoys coming to work, feels comfortable in the environment, and feels confident in their abilities. We remain committed to ensuring that Fusion is a workplace where the whole team feels they belong and know that what they do matters. #Fusion4Life

JM: It really ties to the culture of a workplace and makes sure everyone has a feeling of comfort. Comfort to be themselves, comfort to approach people with issues and the comfort to be able to work in a way that most suits them.

LW: Within the workplace, inspiring inclusion means creating environments whereby women are fully integrated into culture and decision-making processes, ensuring they feel valued and respected and, therefore, can thrive and contribute meaningfully.

What are some challenges you’ve faced navigating leadership in the industry? How did you overcome them?

KH: I have worked through some quite poignant social changes during my working career, so have the ability to reflect on a climate when my career started, compared to today. There have certainly been positive milestones, but I’m aware there is still more to be done, which is why days like this are so important. 

I feel fortunate that my journey navigating leadership was with Fusion. I worked in an environment where there was a sense of belonging which I felt empowered me. I did however come across external occasions where I felt I was being judged based on my gender, so I would turn these situations into personal challenges for me and ensure that by the time the meeting was done, said people would hopefully reflect on themselves. 

JM: Luckily, I’ve not faced many blockers to progress to the position I’m in now and in part, that is due to working at an agency that is leading the way for gender equality. I realise when attending industry events how rare this is, and, as someone who was shy in my youth, I think gaining the confidence to voice opinions/thoughts in situations like this has really been helped by working in an open, encouraging environment.

LW: Stereotyping and gender bias is something I and many women I know have had to deal with, when faced with this it is important to speak up and challenge it so that progress can be made towards creating a more equitable and supportive environment for everyone.

Who are your female role models, and what qualities do you admire most in them?

KH: We all have bad days, and it’s on those days I always think ‘be more…’ And there are 3 people who are my go-to. Luckily from a personal perspective, I can say: 

  • Julia Blake. Her business acumen, determination and focus are exactly why she is absolutely nailing it in business! Be more Julia, Katie! 
  • Jane Slimming. The agency, brand and team she has built are nothing but admirable! Be more Jane, Katie!  

Then there is Jo Malone. She left school early, dyslexic, estranged from her family, built a global brand, fought cancer, and built another global brand. Nothing but inspirational.  

JM: Would it be cheesy to name my fellow blog interviewees? They both inspire and support me every day.

LW: My friends are and will always be my role models, it is important to surround yourself with strong supportive women who you can learn and grow with.

What advice would you give to younger women looking to break into leadership positions in our industry?

KH: Believe in the journey you’ve had so far and have confidence in your future ability – then go for it! If you go first and try, two things can happen:

1). You succeed!

2). You stumble but pick yourself up, learn and go again. 

Either way, you will always be ahead of the next person behind you, so go first!   

JM: Reach for what you want and take ownership of everything you do. Most of all don’t be afraid to unashamedly be yourself. Start gradually, if you think something at work should be your responsibility, give it a try.

LW: Be your own advocate, express what your career goals are and seek opportunities that align with your aspirations.

Looking ahead, what are some goals we can set as an agency to further champion diversity and inclusion?

KH: Have more open discussions on related topics that are important to the team to continue to encourage open communication and invite external people to come in and present on key related topics to have a wider view.

JM: We are a diverse team we just need to talk about it more to ensure it stays that way in the future. Possibly by holding open sessions internally in order to always adapt and discuss how diversity and inclusion can change.

LW: Look to hold regular open sessions whereby everyone is welcome to share challenges, thoughts and ideas on how we can further foster and promote an inclusive workplace where everyone feels valued.