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094: Telling A Better Brand Story with Melanie Deziel

Have you ever wondered what it felt like to do a storytelling act, but this time in front of an audience filled with corporate?
Well, here’s a piece on someone who lives that.
Melanie Deziel is the founder of StoryFuel, a consulting firm that teaches marketers around the world how to tell better brand stories. 
She is an award-winning branded-content creator and sits on the board of the  Native  Advertising  Institute.
Today we take a look at her life and perspective to her work.

First, a few Achievements
Melanie was the first editor of branded content at The  New York Times. She developed the first Master’s course in Content Marketing for Fairleigh Dickinson University, where she now teaches as an adjunct professor and has degrees in investigative journalism and arts editing.
In addition to her work with  The  New  York  Times’  T  Brand  Studio, Melanie was one of the founders of The Huffington  Post’s Brand Storytelling team and is the former Director of Creative Strategy for Time Inc., worked on brand across all 35+ US  publications.
Unlocking her Storytelling Instincts
It might interest you to know that Melanie believes in tapping into the storytelling instinct and curiosity of kids while at work – bringing the power in that mindset into professional brand publishing.
Her storytelling is always poised to captivate her given audience and have them hooked on the subject without misleading them in any way by her story.
“I encourage people to think about three things – the acronym to help you remember is the ‘P.R.E.’ this is your pre-strategy before creating the product.” Melanie gave this response when quizzed about her tricks in helping people unlock the stories within them.
She explained further; stating that The ‘P’ represents the Product. Whatever the product or service is, you can create content around it.
Then there’s the ‘R’ which represents the Role that marketers and publishers can play in the customer’s life; what you can help them achieve, how their needs can be prioritized and met, what differences can you can make in their lives.
The ‘E’ is for Emotion. Melanie believes that everything we buy or engage within the world is an emotion and that products and services spark up a feeling in some way or the other.
“There’s something that that product or that purchase or that service is giving us on an emotional level, and when we could create stories that tap into the emotion, those are often some of the most powerful stories that we can tell” Melanie Said..
Fact and Fiction: Where she draws the Line
Melanie makes an effort in her work to always present her views from a journalism-side of things. She focuses on ensuring that her storytelling is built to stay true to the critical needs of her audience.
She believes in studying audiences and taking time to know what they would relate better to, as this can be a positive step towards achieving more significant progress with clients.
The NetFlix Case Study
She spoke fondly about her time as a staff in strategy development with the New York Times. The opportunity to offer marketing solutions to NetFlix regarding the TV show; Orange is the new black.
The series boasts a true life story.
“Orange is the New Black is based on a book; it’s based on a true story. But we don’t feel people know that. We feel that they think it’s just a SitCom or these are made up satiations.” Melanie recalls being told by Netflix
She would go on (along with her team) to put together a long-form investigative report with a 3-part mini documentary and Info-graphics telling a story of what it is really like to be a woman in prison.
“We interviewed current and former inmates of various women’s prisons; we talked to prison reform workers, sociologists, activists, people who work inside the prisons, to tell that story: what is that experience like really?” Melanie said.
This experience, while working with NetFlix inspired Melanie a lot and improved her drive to always want to have a storytelling pattern that pitches the crucial facts and figures to the public, even while mixing in a bit of entertainment or fiction.
Speaking on Gratitude 
As non-surprising as it sounds in Melanie’s case, she owes a lot of gratitude to her husband whom she refers to as her number one fan. 
And indeed she confirmed that a lot of the professionals and team members she has had the opportunity to work with have had a tremendous impact on her career.
“It means so much to me, just to be surrounded by people who are sharing their talents and time with me and getting to share my talents and time with them. It absolutely means the world to me, and changes the way I look at my business.” Melanie said.
Her Journey to Public Speaking
JJust like many renowned speakers, Melanie started in public speaking by first trying it out by accident, and then getting to like it.
She had filled in for a colleague at an event, and gave an oral presentation at the time, and recalls feeling great after the event.
“I loved that people came up afterward and said ‘this changed my opinion, this changed the way I’m going to do things’ I feeling like I really have an impact,” she said while defining how glad she had felt.
“I looked for more opportunities to do that, to go out and represent and talk about the work that my team was doing, I also saw that it was the kind of thing that I enjoyed more than most of the other aspects of my job.”
Keeping up with her drive to do more public speaking, Melanie started her own consulting and speaking company three years ago – teaching marketers and brands how to tell stories.
Admittedly it hasn’t been an easy road – starting small and putting in a lot of work. Melanie recalls having had low, and no-paying gigs at her early startup. But her focus was never daunted. 
She believes that loving her job and the fulfillment from helping the people she interacts with while on and off stage has been a massive boost in her confidence to keep going.
Advice for Speakers
“When you are stuck up on that stage, it is not about you. It is about the audience and the value you give them and the way you serve them best” Melanie said.
She believes that one of the biggest errors a speaker can make is to be focused on themselves while going on stage – rather than on the audience.
It would only be logical to agree with her mindset that it doesn’t matter if a speaker makes a fool of his/herself as long as the right impact is passed on to the target audience.

Michael Hudson094: Telling A Better Brand Story with Melanie Deziel