e-book In the Breath of a Moment: Tiny Tales for Short Attention Spans

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The book consists of 28 short stories, poems and character studies that encompass various genres, including horror, fantasy, humor and sci-fi. Subjects tackled.
Table of contents

Those answers help isolate factors that contribute to success and yield valuable insights for crafting and promoting future stories. Building and managing a corporate newsroom begins with a vision, guiding principles, a mission and strong leaders who advocate and passionately believe in what they do. Their audience includes the general public, customers, public policy makers and the media. It showcases pieces written by the company, partners or industry leaders that provide guidance and help fuel the conversation.

This team creates or coordinates content for owned channels i. It coordinates companywide news and features, both text-based and video. These stories can show solutions to problems, increase corporate value, reveal exclusive behind-the-scenes insights and convey company culture. Many of these wordsmiths have a background in journalism. They are familiar with strict ethical standards and take pride and responsibility in meeting deadlines. They are sticklers for accuracy, which equates to the credibility that must be first and foremost for any brand, just as for any news organization.

All these traits remain vital in what they do for Microsoft. No matter what their background, all of the members of the Microsoft Stories team strive to put the reader first. Team members have a low tolerance for lingo lunacy and acronyms that confuse a reader. They are unafraid to ask follow-up questions if something is unclear after interviewing a source. How a story is going to be handled — what direction it will take, what emphasis it will have — should be discussed in advance.

Writers are our workhorses. They juggle multiple stories and project manage them from end to end, including shaping initial ideas, coordinating and conducting interviews, writing, managing internal and external reviews, setting up photo shoots, obtaining visual assets and even designing and laying out stories for online presentation. In any newsroom, editors are often the unsung heroes. At Microsoft, they vet ideas as the first point of contact for stakeholders interested in working with the Stories team.

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In addition to shaping and editing stories, they also flag potential land mines and are advocates for a successful product. Editors help manage the multiple stakeholders who may be involved in a story, serving as a vessel and a filter for their input and ensuring that the writer has the information she needs. In the Microsoft Stories newsroom, writers report to editors, and editors report to the newsroom director.

That leader should have a clear vision for the newsroom and support the team of writers, photographers, artists, editors and others with enthusiasm, knowledge and advocacy within the wider company. The newsroom director must have an overriding sense of fairness, a thirst for excellence and success, and the ability to articulate what excellence and success look like.

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The person in that role needs to be able to focus on the Big Picture — the quality of the site itself and the stories — and not get bogged down in minutiae or decisions that should fall to writers, editors or others on the team. Here are some operational guidelines that we at Microsoft Stories have found to be most efficient and productive:. We hold regular editorial meetings, both for the team and with communicators across the company so everyone is aware of storytelling efforts on different channels. This helps reduce redundancy and promote cross-company amplification of newly published stories on various sites, blogs and social media channels.

We establish a clear editorial timeline and story scope from the beginning of every story. Bringing the news team in early helps stakeholders plan and scope their project.

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Editors and stakeholders decide early on whether the story will be short, mid-length or long. They consider whether it would do well with interactive features such as a quiz or poll, and with video, photos or sound samples. Understanding precisely who will be reviewing the story as it comes together can help prevent problems down the line, such as inadvertently leaving someone out of the process.

This is also the time for the news team and communications leads to determine who should be interviewed and to zero in on the most important voices. If there are any internal politics or sensitivities around the story, those should be confidentially shared with the writer so she can proceed accordingly. As the reporting process begins, writers ensure that interviewees know that this is an external story meant for public consumption but that they will get to review it before it is published. After the initial interviews, it can be helpful for the writer to send the editor, key stakeholders and the communications lead a brief outline of the story.

Once a story is written, an editor carefully reviews and edits it before it is sent to stakeholders for review. This is an opportunity to flag any issues the writer may not be aware of and to ensure that stories are in the best possible shape when stakeholders see them. The writer, editor or the director determines what process works best for story reviews and asks stakeholders to follow it.

How-To Conquer Short Attention Spans

To keep the review process moving, writers set specific deadlines for comments and let stakeholders know what level of feedback they are seeking. Typically, this includes spotting factual inaccuracies and ensuring that products and programs are clearly described or articulated. To eliminate errors or surprises, Microsoft Stories allows anyone who was interviewed to review a story before publication. If there are internal and external stakeholders, a story should typically first be sent to internal stakeholders to lock it down before sending to external stakeholders or sources.

To avoid churn and confusion, we emphasize that a final version of a story should be final. Edits after a final document has been sent creates confusion, version-control issues and needless extra work. Avoiding that vexation is a good reason to have everyone work from the same document. The team needs several tools, both software and hardware, to do its job.

To communicate easily, team members need some kind of communal chat site, such as Microsoft Teams. They also need email Outlook or another app for all kinds of correspondence, both to the team and to stakeholders. For in-person or phone interviews, a digital recorder or a smartphone app such as Voice Memos or TapeACall is helpful.

Even simpler for phone calls is an in-ear telephone pick-up. Online, interviews can be recorded using Microsoft Teams.


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After recording an interview, many writers use Trint or another machine learning-based transcription service to speed up the time it takes to transcribe the interview. Online-based services such as Transcribe can also save time. Our team writes and edits in Microsoft Word. It can also be helpful to use Word Online or OneDrive for collaborative editing and reviews. Other tools that could be useful include:. A uniform style helps readers readily identify the company and distinguish it from other brands. It also ensures a solid foundation of high editorial standards across the company.

The Microsoft Stories team relies on and collaborates closely with internal and external stakeholders who help bring stories to life. Those might include a marketing manager, a PR lead, a policy team member, or customers, grantees or nonprofits. Building trust with stakeholders starts with empathy — understanding what stakeholders are trying to accomplish and what demands and challenges they might be facing.

How to Improve Your Concentration

Like anyone in an organization, stakeholders have supervisors they must answer to and a perspective shaped by the work they do. For stakeholders unfamiliar with corporate storytelling, it can be helpful to start with a short explanation about what a corporate newsroom is, what it does i. For instance, a traditional reporter would typically not let a source review a story, while a corporate storyteller collaborates with stakeholders and lets them review and edit stories as needed.

While a reporter strives to be an impartial outsider, a corporate storyteller is an advocate working inside an organization. This might sound obvious, but talking through a story beforehand helps ensure that the writer, editor and stakeholders are envisioning the story in a similar way. Finding out after a story is written that a stakeholder had a different story in mind can create delays and require rewrites.

Visit us at Microsoft Stories. The Digital Storytelling Handbook How to tell stories that delight your audience and make an impact for your brand. Microsoft Stories.