Storytelling: corporate buzzword or clever business?

‘Today, one of the biggest corporate buzzwords is ‘storytelling’.’ – Snow

Strange, I thought. Do the two really go together? Surely storytelling and business inhabit two separate parts of our lives: one belongs at home, the other in the office…

But if you take a step back and consider that the people making big business decisions are the same that revel in stories at dinner parties, read fairytales to their children and devour the latest bestsellers on the beach, it makes sense that they’d enjoy an element of storytelling in their professional lives, too.

‘A social worker once said: There isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story.’ – Andrew Stanton, film director and screenwriter, Pixar Animation Studios

Even the ‘dullest’ business exists to solve a problem. If you can start with the story of how the product or service was born, who it has helped and the difference it has made, it will be much easier to convince a customer of its value than simply listing its features or benefits.

As an example, try re-writing the About Us page on your company’s website page using the  storytelling template below from Pixar. You don’t have to follow the format exactly. You could substitute “Once upon a time…” for “In 1999…”, for example, or “After the banking crisis of 2008…”.

pixarpixar-story-template

By thinking about how to evolve your marketing copy from sales fodder into stories, your writing will stand out from the crowd and you will start to engage with your customers on a deeper, more personal level. After all,

‘Those who tell stories rule society.’ – Plato

A huge thank you to the Berkeley Storytelling Academy for inspiring this blog and sourcing the quotes. I was fortunate to win a place on the Business Storytelling Programme by entering a Twitter competition. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to take their copywriting to the next level, improve their presentation skills or log some CPD hours in a fun and fulfilling way.

 

 

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April Fool’s Day: a marketer’s dream or nightmare?

As is the case with every April Fool’s Day, I hadn’t realised the significance of today’s date until I found myself questioning a host of radio news reports during my drive to the office.

Personally, I love this annual morning of hoaxes. When I was working in PR, the team had the pleasure of scanning the national newspapers each morning and it was a great opportunity for spotting the more gullible amongst us. It became something that I very much looked forward to.

That said, the day can throw a spanner in the works for marketers and PR professionals alike. If you have a big announcement to make for a client that could interest the national press, do you hang on to it for an extra day to ensure that it doesn’t get sidelined by faux news stories or – god forbid – mistaken for one? Or, is it better to issue it as planned and hope that editors are looking to balance out the high jinks with some hard-hitting business stories?

On the flip side, April Fool’s Day can be a saving grace for those looking to discreetly air some dirty laundry. There’s a higher chance that a negative news piece will be overlooked as attention is grabbed by some great editorial and advertorial stunts.

It reminds me of an episode of The West Wing called “Take Out the Trash Day”. The idea is that you group all of the bad news stories together and give them to the press on one day, safe in the knowledge that the journalists only have a set number of column inches to fill.

The same principal applies with April Fool’s Day and big national events, in my opinion. While it means that your great story might get lost, it also means that your less flattering story might not get noticed.

Love it or hate it, April Fool’s wind ups are here to stay. This year, I’ve seen more of them than ever thanks to Facebook and Twitter.

I’d be interested to hear further thoughts on the topic from other marketers and PR professionals. Just leave me a comment below.

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