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Social Storytelling

3 Mar

Lisa Geddes, former VP of Marketing for the Rick Hansen Foundation, spoke and inspired my communications class about corporate and effective storytelling. She pointed out that storytelling has been the main communication channel since the beginning of time, referring to tribes, William Shakespeare, movies and music. Storytelling is truly the basis of everything we do. She feels that storytelling is “how we’re built to communicate,” which is why it is so effective in the corporate world. However, companies are having trouble communicating stories about their history to consumers, and are still focusing on quantitative values rather than personal values.

Lisa emphasized the fact that stories should always have a protagonist to introduce the story, a crisis or event in the middle of the story, and a moral to conclude the meaning of the story. Generic, inhumane company background stories do not capture the attention or interest of consumers. According to Lisa, good stories must be in alignment with your company, and must be authentic. They should avoid emotional dissonance by starting fresh from where the company last left off. Stories should always explain “why” and have a good reason for telling the story in the first place. The audience is only going to be engaged if they can relate to the story, so companies should know their audience’s interests and lifestyles in and out. Good stories should be emotive, informative and entertaining, and must contain a central message, while providing context.

Companies are still failing to produce authentic, engaging stories about their background and values because they feel that consumers are already doing so by using social media. Little do they know, if they have a presence online and engage consumers with their own story, consumer input may change for the better, and more positive stories could be generated by consumers on a daily basis.

Lisa then went on to explain that in order to “change your culture, change your story.” She also mentioned the theory of opening a story or message with the line “let me tell you a story.” According to Lisa, it is proven that when this phrase is mentioned before telling the story, a part of the brain opens up and prepares itself to listen carefully. Lisa’s presentation was very inspirational and highlighted the power of storytelling, especially in the corporate world.

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