TrueThirty is a reporter-driven, strategic consulting team the likes of which we've yet to see.
By understanding what's news and what's not, by gaining a depth of knowledge that goes beyond the superficial, True Thirty is able to earn critically needed relevance and trust in a time of misinformation and content overload.
Guided by measurable insight and journalism, True Thirty has positioned itself to empower creative teams to produce content and experiences rooted in truth — original narratives that wake up audiences and inspire action.
Brand Storytelling caught up with True Thirty Co-Founder Joey Dumont to discuss what goes into the process of delineating between what's news and what's not, why that matters, and what discovering truths means for good storytelling across different verticals:
How does being able to determine what’s news and what’s not set you apart from other consultants?
It's the process that sets us apart. We always start from a story-first perspective and go from there. We ask the same questions that an assignment editor would ask: "why should I care?" "How are you going to tell this story?" "What makes this story important?" In the old days of journalism, reporters had to fight for limited space by putting up the best argument for why their story mattered, why it belonged on the front page. We put our ideas through the same kind of process. Knowing what's news not only helps us create individual pieces of content, but it allows us to find the unique - sometimes oblique - angle on a brand's purpose, its reason for being.
You have reporters and strategists working in tandem to execute your unique offering - how does that work?
Strategists and reporters work in parallel with nearly constant contact as both workflows move forward. Think of it like an intelligence agency. The reporters are out there picking up anecdotal clues, gathering quotes, seeking out sources. The strategists are looking at those signals along with the big picture, using deep social listening tools and their own instincts for finding the truth under the jargon. Together, the two disciplines find the parts of bigger conservations that brands can authentically enter and own.
Given your skills and resources, why aren’t you an agency?
Agencies today are more of a business than a creative platform. So we decided to start a small consultancy for the sole purpose of storytelling. And because we use actual journalists in our work, the moniker of Agency was simply not accurate to who we are.
Can you offer a client-specific example in which you were able to use your truth-first approach to impact their bottom line?
We had a blockchain client who wanted to convince the financial sector that blockchain was more than cryptocurrency and actually offered a better way for traditional finance to do business. We had to find the narrative that distanced our client from the insanity around crypto while still harnessing the frenetic energy of early adopters who had invested in our client's cryptocurrency. After a deep dive into blockchain and our client's specific offering, we were able to design an editorial strategy that engaged our mostly button-down audience of bankers without alienating our base of crypto-freaks. It worked because the editorial approach was accurate and authentic and both audiences could see that. Of course, It helped that crypto and blockchain is rife with BS and a brand can stand out just by telling the simple truth.
What verticals are you interested in applying this approach to? why?
When we started our shop, we began with 5 verticals in mind: B2B Technology, Blockchain/Crypto, Cannabis, Music, eSports. Why? Our history with B2B clients for starters. We believe B2B companies can be more Human with their storytelling. And our approach lends itself to technology because there is so much content out there and brands really need a way to cut through the noise... Human stories work better. And industries like Blockchain, Cannabis, Music, and eSports are simply ripe for storytelling. All that said, we want to hear from any company that is interested in telling an honest, interesting story.
How does the intersectionality between investigative truth and storytelling impact the work you do?
We believe that honesty over perfection is a prime platform for storytelling. When we unearth things that are unflattering for a brand, we share it with them, not expose them for it. And as opposed to Spin, we show them how to approach the story with humility. Patagonia does this with their FootPrint Chronicles platform––You jump on their site, punch in your SKU number for your shirt, and it tells you where their sourced the material, where they sewed it up, and the carbon footprint involved in sending YOUR SHIRT from all the way around the world. Patagonia is not perfect, but they are brutally honest. And we believe this intersectionality is key moving forward. People are tired of Spin.
The True Thirty way is far from the “easy way” - Why do you do it?
We thought this was the easy way (smile). Seriously, we felt that our tenure in the industry has earned us this next phase. We have all run teams, budgets, and major brand clients––and all of us prefer to simply tell stories instead. Keeping our new shop small is intentional––it allows us to simply tell stories.
About Joey Dumont
Joey Dumont is Co-Founder and Partner Lead at True Thirty. A seasoned agency executive, Joey has led business teams and revenue for two decades. As Executive Producer on The Naked Brand documentary, he chronicled needed evolutions with brands and in the advertising industry due to evolving social technology and culture.