Aligning PR with Storytelling by The Hoffman Agency

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As product news continues to be commoditized, it becomes increasingly important for communication professionals to build feature stories. This slide deck examines the type of content that makes for compelling storytelling.

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Aligning PR with Storytelling by The Hoffman Agency

  1. 1
  2. Let’s dispense with the myths. 2
  3. Stories = Fiction 3
  4. The mom admonishes the kid, “The next time you tell a story, young man, you’re going to find yourself on a timeout that NEVER ENDS.” 4
  5. Stories waste time. 5
  6. But professor, I’m telling you my paper on Freudian Impulses During The French Revolution was finished when I went to the fridge for my roomie’s leftover pizza and out of nowhere comes Mrs. Robinson’s Great Dane who literally … 6
  7. Stories deliver comic relief. 7
  8. “When she threw that toupee out the window, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I feel like my old self again: neurotic, paranoid, totally inadequate, completely insecure. It's a pleasure.” George Constanza Seinfeld 8
  9. OK, comic relief is not a total myth on TV. 9
  10. THE REALITY Today’s journalists, bloggers and business writers embrace classic storytelling techniques as a means to entertain. 10
  11. Technically Speaking, “Stories have such a powerful and universal appeal that the neurological roots of both telling tales and enjoying them are probably tied to crucial parts of our social cognition.” Scientific America Mind (August/September 2008) 11
  12. And if that wasn’t deep enough The human brain is predisposed to think in story terms. This predisposition is continuously reinforced and strengthened as the brain develops up through the age of 12. Adults are dependent on interpreting events and other humans’ behavior through story architectures. 12
  13. 25 November 2008 You don't have to be a crazed Jungian, a structural anthropologist, or a seven-basic-plots believer to agree that storytelling is something of universal importance in human experience, and something that exhibits deep and suggestive similarities across cultures. 13
  14. Back to the Core Premise: Stories entertain, helping media properties and others rise above commodity hell sometimes known as “Google alerts” 14
  15. Advertising Gets the Power of Narrative 15
  16. Are you thinking it behooves communication pros to develop content that aligns with this storytelling reality? 16
  17. Bingo 17
  18. Story Trees [stawr-ee tree] noun An internal document that captures content for helping others build their own stories. 18
  19. Story Trees should articulate the difference between “what was” “what is”and T I M E 19
  20. The bigger the gulf between the two, the greater the drama. 20
  21. Take the movie Rudy - 21
  22. If you jump to the end of the movie and see Rudy finally going into the game to play for Notre Dame, this has zero meaning. 22
  23. Instead, one needs to understand he originally got rejected, parlayed a junior college stint into admissions, walked on to the team as an undersized player, etc. Once Upon A Time One + Magazine 23
  24. Companies often stum le with the “what was.” They don’t want to rehash a negative; i.e., “cut from the football team a la Rudy.” 24
  25. But without this context, the advancement “what is” can’t be fully appreciated. 25
  26. Story Trees should bring out the humanity of the characters, the people in your company. 26
  27. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them – in order that the reader may see what they are made of. Story Tip #6 Kurt Vonnegut sketch by C.K. Sample III 27
  28. Senior executives don’t like recounting the awful things that happened to them (sometimes by their own doing). 28
  29. Which is why this type of content opens doors that might otherwise be closed. 29
  30. Story Trees should communicate the unexpected 30
  31. McDonald’s Goes Shi Shi 31
  32. Numbers Count Too 32
  33. USA Today Story on turning table scraps into energy: • 2,300 companies provide food scraps. • 30 million tons of food waste go to landfills each year. • The utility processes 100 to 200 tons of food scraps a week. • Food scraps provide enough to power for 1,300 to 2,600 homes. • If the utility secured all 1,800 tons of scraps from commercial enterprises in the region, it could power 25,000 homes. • 50% of U.S. food waste could power 2.5M homes. 33
  34. Introducing the anecdote, arguably the most important element in the Story Tree arsenal 34
  35. There is a disconnect in how different people perceive anecdotes 35
  36. Engineers see fluff. 36
  37. Business writers see gold. 37
  38. Lead in Business Intelligence Story: In 1879 James Ritty, a saloon-keeper in Dayton, Ohio, received a patent for a wooden contraption that he dubbed the “incorruptible cashier.” With a set of buttons and a loud bell, the device, sold by National Cash Register (NCR), was little more than a simple adding machine. Yet as an early form of managing information flows in American business the cash register had a huge impact. It not only reduced pilferage by alerting the shopkeeper when the till was opened; by recording every transaction, it also provided an instant overview of what was happening in the business. 38
  39. In other words, Ritty’s employees were stealing him blind. 39
  40. 40
  41. “Everyone has a natural detector for psychological realism.” Raymond A. Mar Assistant Professor of Psychology York University in Toronto 41
  42. So don’t spin. 42
  43. Finally, Lose the jargon which smothers a story and bores people. 43
  44. The End 44
  45. Resources • One + Magazine: Storytelling and Your Quest for Business Success (February 2010) • Harvard Business Review: How a Two Minute Story Helps You Lead (August 4, 2009) • Scientific American: The Secret of Storytelling: Why We Love a Good Yarn (August 2008) • The Telegraph: Grand Theft Auto, Twitter and Beowulf All Demonstrate that Stories Will Never Die (November 25, 2008) • Steve Denning blog: The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management • Greg Morris blog: What’s Your Story? • Kathy Hansen’s blog: A Storied Career • Michael Margolis’s blog: Get Storied • Mike Bonifer’s blog: GameChangers • Claudio Perrone’s SlideShare deck Presentation Storytelling Techniques • Ishmael’s Corner: Five Storytelling Techniques to Give Business Communications Liftoff There’s a considerable amount of information available on the topic of storytelling. If you’d like to dig deeper, the following provides a cross section of resources: 45
  46. We conduct customized training and workshops on storytelling for both executives and communication professionals 46
  47. We blog on storytelling through a business prism at www.IshmaelsCorner.com. 47
  48. Europe: Mike Sottak +44 (0)7 4632 47399 North America: Stephen Burkhart 1 408 286-2611 Asia Pacific: Cassandra Cheong 86 (21) 6203-3366 X125 Global: Lou Hoffman 1 408 286-2611 Thank You IMAGES: CORBIS http://www.hoffman.com 48

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