THE BREAKFAST CLUB's Moderator Kelly Andresen of The Washington Post on Brand Storytelling


The AD Club is thrilled to have Kelly Andresen, Director of Ad Innovations & Product Strategy at The Washington Post, join us this Wednesday, May 6th during our Breakfast Club: Thought Leader Series. When it comes to advising brands on authentic brand storytelling, Kelly has keen insight and high level of expertise. To get warmed up for the event, we’ve asked her to share her thoughts on best practices for brands looking to successfully engage their target audiences, what the typical Washington Post reader looks for when it comes to content, which brand storytelling initiative she admires the most, and more. Here’s what she had to say…

What are some defining characteristics for a piece of branded storytelling to be perceived as authentic?

Great stories aim to inform or entertain the audience. When brand stories include new facts, data, or insights from thought leaders or third party data sources, they are generally well received as audiences find real value in learning something new from the content. Utilizing multiple sources both from the brand and from outside of the brand is important as it lends credibility to the content and creates a sense of authenticity.

What is your personal definition of native advertising?

Native advertising is sponsored content that matches the form and function of the site and platform it appears on.

How would you describe the Washington Post reader? What are they looking for when it comes to content?

The Washington Post attracts an influential audience of sophisticated, well-informed, highly-educated individuals who actively seek news and information that shapes their personal and professional lives. They are looking for information that can help them better understand complex issues, get the most up-to-date data and facts about a wide-range of topics, and seek to interact with the content through a variety of story-telling tools and formats. Essentially they are seeking a well-informed experience.

What are some best practices for brands looking to create content and engage WP readers?

Washington Post readers trust us to provide them with everything they need to understand the world around them. They’re smart. They’re influential. They’re educated. They’re business-minded. They’re powerful. They want to consume and share content that is well-written and produced. This means that stories that brands create are valuable to readers: material that makes them think, feel, laugh, share and want more.

We recommend brands:

  • Tell a visual story • Be subtle • Go beyond a press release • Write for readers, not experts • Grab attention • Provide value • Surprise and delight • Create unique content • Offer behind-the-scenes glimpses • Provide an “exclusive” • Share some outtakes • Offer background context • Include all platforms • Adapt to breaking news • Leverage human interest

What is an example of a recent brand storytelling initiative that you really admire?

There are so many examples out there these days – It is so great to see brands and publishers innovating together to tell stories in ways that weren’t possible even last year! I can’t limit myself to choose just one. I think Citi, Netflix, and GE are some examples of brands who are doing great work.