Xerox builds storytelling team

The group has been one of chief communications officer Anne Marie Squeo's top priorities.

NORWALK, CT: Xerox is building out a team of storytellers to highlight its employees, technology and customers.

Anne Marie Squeo has developed the group as one of her first priorities since joining Xerox seven months ago as SVP and chief communications and brand officer.

"Stories are really powerful ways to build and communicate culture, change and lessons," she said. "We are looking at building a digital-first marketing and comms organization that focuses on great storytelling."

In the last two months, Xerox has hired three people for the team and plans to bring on three more next year. 

Tina Babarovic, former producer at ABC News, joined Xerox in August as chief storyteller, reporting to Squeo. That same month, Matt McCue, a former editor-in-chief for Adobe 99U and a freelance writer for Fast Company and others, joined in September as a storyteller; and Carl Franzen, who previously was editor-in-chief of Inman Group, also joined Xerox as a storyteller. Franzen and McCue are reporting to Babarovic.

Squeo is purposefully hiring people with journalism backgrounds. She was a reporter at The Wall Street Journal and a member of the team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for national reporting. In 2004, she won the Gerald R. Loeb Award for business journalism. 

"The crux of this is trying to tell higher-quality stories that have journalistic sensibilities to them and to do more of it," she said. "There is a lot of marketing speak out there and heavy-handed pushing of the brand instead of telling people something they don’t know and surprising them the same way a journalist would approach any piece of content they would create."

The team’s main goal is to build brand awareness about what Xerox is and what the company is doing. Squeo said the stories should help customers, partners and employees to engage with Xerox.

Squeo’s team produced content in August tied to the U.S. Open, asking people whether they think a tennis ball is green or yellow. Answer: optic yellow.

"There is a raging debate around that topic," said Squeo. "As color experts, we know what it is because we can print it exactly. We got engaged with our color experts and talked to outsiders about the history of the tennis ball, which dates back to the advent of color TV."

The ball used to be white, but once color TV became popular, it was made yellow so people could see it better on broadcasts. 

"The content was informative, engaging and people could see the obvious business intent with it," said Squeo. "But we didn’t bang people over the head with the business intent."

The content team put together another campaign focused on color this month, this time about whether "clear" is a color. Xerox announced "clear" as its "color of the year" at the same time Benjamin Moore made its own declaration. Xerox also put out a fake press release about the announcement, said Squeo.

All of the content created by the team lives on Xerox’s website and social media channels, as well as the company intranet. 

"Stories will be core for us," she said. "They are powerful, effective and it is the way of the future."

Xerox has been working with InkHouse on thought leadership and PR since October 1. The brand also works with Curley Company on strategy and employee engagement.

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