Why i hate the “storytelling” buzzword…

So my good friend Olivier Blanchard shared a post I wrote on Facebook (seen above) and this generated a pretty interesting discussion. So I thought I would share a few of the comments and my responses.

Cémanthe – you know…I 100% agree…I am tired of the industry using this buzzword –> “Storytelling”…it actually pisses me off…thus the point of this article. I have been actually writing about this buzzword for a while…watching organizations claim it yet not deliver other than putting investment in technology. I honestly think it comes down to defining what is a “Good Story.” My definition differs from most everyone else.

I honestly have never worked for an “agency” until now and actually resist the natural offering and push of an agency. I was journalist for years before transitioning to the business world and teaching world. Why? Because I honestly believe there are organizations out there that truly love the power of rich stories in their content strategies. I define rich stories as stories with layers, elements, pieces that are delivered a little at a time to hook people into no longer realizing they have peripheral vision…that moment in time you are totally embedded into the storyline.

I have friends that are former journalists that work all over the world for large organizations because they have a talent…to listen and capture stories as they emerge…allowing that storyline to allow the audience to see that brand’s message through another person’s viewpoint. If there is one thing I know…if you can capture rich stories about brands through third party anecdotes…then the audience begins to see life through a new lens.

So to Olivier’s point…he is right on…IMHO. Here is why. I help one of the largest endowments in the country tell rich stories. Why…because they do not like to talk about their brand…NOT AT ALL. They like to allow the people that benefit from their grants share their story, their path, and how this investment has changed the way communities are impacted. This initiative has opened so many new doors for grant making in this region. Now, new groups have emerged that now qualify for this generosity because of this public awareness campaign via YouTube. But the public was not the initial target audience, the Board of Trustees who decide the grant making was the target audience. We wanted to bring voice to the grant making…so they could see the human impact of those dollars being extended.

So….everyone in hear probably already has a predisposition about “storytelling” and whether it brings an ROI or value. Here is what I know…I love helping people turn 180 degrees away from a brand message and capture the stories of the people that bring texture. Great writers can craft beautiful copy about a brand…create a truth. Great storytellers find the nuggets that touch people’s souls…then capture and share them in a way that brings a new dimension to the conversation.

Alan – I see your point. Yes…you can go out there and create initiatives that ultimately create positive stories…you will just need people like me to come in right behind you to capture those stories and tell them in real time…capture, tell, and share them in a way that makes sense in people’s lives.