The Rise of Chief Storytellers for a 1,001-Night World - and Some Pro Tips
Authentic storytellers add real competitive advantage for companies of all kinds
Nearly all companies have an internal media company today to quote my friend Tom Foremski. Storytelling skills can make or break a company. In recent years as more illustrious journalists depart to join a corporate world, there’s been a rise in big chiefs of storytelling who’ve thrived in a 1,001-night world of engaging readers or getting the axe.
These big chiefs of storytelling add real business value to the companies they serve. As Foremski recently wrote, editorial communications or a new Media as a Service has arrived on the scene with far more impact than “brand journalism” or “native ads”.
As a youth I was fascinated by One Thousand and One Nights, the collection of stories and folk tales often known as Arabian Nights in English. Like King Shahyar, I couldn’t wait to hear the end of stories spun by Queen Scheherazade who was spared each time she intrigued him to wait for the next night’s story finale, followed by another tale.
The stories were grand cliffhangers like “Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp”, “Ali Babba and the Forty Thieves”, and “The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor” that have spawned hundreds of variations in comic books, novels, movies and TV.
Smart founders, CEOs and marketers know the value of storytelling. It’s not always being first to market with an innovation or idea. Who wins in the end often comes down to who is telling the most intriguing, memorable or authentic stories.
The ability to thrive and even survive as a company is what’s at stake on the storytelling battlefield in a 1,001-night world where people’s attention spans and brand preferences are more fleeting than ever.
Some pro tips for developing intriguing content marketing stories:
Know your audience and what matters most to them: Craft stories that are meaningful and worthy of sharing. For example, if you’re marketing goal is selling food to choosy moms, they care a lot about nutrition and avoiding unhealthy additives. They’ll champion brands that help their kids thrive and stay fit.
Increase storytelling relevance by tying into news or hot topics. As any good editor knows, front-page headlines that report on news and topics that impact us all get attention. Tie your narratives into news from the outside world and avoid narrowing your focus on internal company or executive storylines.
Find the funny. Being too serious and uptight can turn audiences off. A more light-hearted, humorous approach can be infectious and lead to more people sharing your content. For example, some of the world’s biggest brands have begun providing formal press comment using funny video shorts of kids.
Add intrigue with heroes and story arcs. Continuing storylines and themes in a classic dramatic structure with narrative arcs that bring audiences through a beginning, middle and end of a hero’s adventure are at the heart of today’s movies, TV shows and video games. Find the hero of your saga – often your core customer – and put a representative of them as a hero in a content series.
Make your content snackable. Whether it’s a blog, comic book, advice column or video webisode series, audiences today tend to prefer content that is short or can be consumed in snackable chunks. Mark Twain famously said: “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” Take the time to be short and memorable and leave your audiences wanting more.