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we are humans…stupid! #storytelling

blog-gary-v

Love this quote from Gary V:

“I am only interested in one thing…the thing that binds us all together…always and forever our job is to tell our story…”

“The way you make real money…the way you make real impact…the way things get changed is by great storytelling…it has always been that way and it will always be that way…because i do not know if you guys heard and we are f&cking human beings and that is what we like.”

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What is the DNA of a good storyteller?

Anyone have any thoughts? Hmm…so I have been thinking about this for a bit! What is the DNA of a “good” storyteller?

Hmm…well my first thought: they create great content. Yeah…so what is great content and how can we equate great content with a great storyteller?

In the world of digital communications…how do we create content that is sticky and feels connected.

I read a great little blog post by Holly Potter and it has me thinking just a bit…here is an excerpt:

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What is “good” content? #storytelling

Have you thought through this before? When I asked a group of healthcare communication professionals to define content and “good” content…we recorded some interesting feedback.

So here are my thoughts:

Good Content – From 30K Feet
1) Creates the connected theater – How can we create an interactive experience so audience forgets they are watching and listening…yet feeling (movie theater analogy)?
2) Creates a connected voice – We can identify we each other…we speak the same language.

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Social Content –> Shaping Content Creation?

People want to find media that they can identify…content that makes sense in their lives. As I think through this lens…I have been reshaping my opinions when it comes to the value of video production.

I love big cameras, pretty pictures, the HD experience…etc. But, is all this necessary in our world of social content? Is multi-purposing content from that video shoot with the Red Camera necessary?

Have you watched American Idol this season? It is a new face with the addition of Harry Connick, Jr…a new tone and lots more stories. Did you also notice the production value of the video content being used. Lots more user-based content captured using mobile devices. The opening of American Idol has leveraged contestant video content from their mobile devices as a major part of the opening sequences.

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2014 SuperBowl Ads – Budweiser’s Narrative Helps Us Forget A Soldier #sb48

As we ooh’d and ahh’d over this touching little puppy ad by Budweiser in the 4th quarter of the SuperBowl…we have forgotten.

Budweiser…as always, knows how to create a tremendous ad narrative throughout big events like the SuperBowl. Sprinkling little story-lines in short little commercials that have nothing to do with beer. These little micro-narratives have everything to do with being “American.”

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What makes stories sticky? #contentmarketing

This is a question that I think resonates all content marketers. From my days in broadcast television news, we spent hours and hours discussion whether a story would generate enough interest to drive viewership. Now in the digital/social communication world, it is even more of a legitimate discussion.

In-order for organizations to take ownership of their brand message, they have to become their own content marketers. They have to create home bases for audiences to navigate and social strategies to generate conversation portals ultimately for content discovery.

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Storytelling and Data…or the need to measure the story?

It is possible…it is possible to measure success. I have been surrounded by groups that want to bring a visual context to their story. They enlist me to help find and tell those rich elements creating a meaningful story.

The idea of storytelling has become such a passé term. Each day I receive an email, see a pr strategy, get a insert in the my home mailbox advertising how to tell better stories. From rich pr strategies to complex marketing initiatives…we all want to tell better stories.

Groups invest tons of money into these initiatives yet sometimes measuring success is not part of the initial thinking. The hardest question…what is success. Or…is the term “success” an inappropriate representation for the need to see how the audiences interacted with the media.

Let’s think through the term “success” and consider a different lens. When I think of measurement and storytelling, I think in terms of impact and how the audience experienced the media.

From the very beginning, before the creative stage is implemented…we have to set goals. What do we want the media, (the story) to do and how can we measure the impact based on those goals.

Then, we have to identify the story that needs to be told. What is the message and how do we want it to influence the audience. Is this an awareness initiative or is it a marketing initiative?

Here are the fun questions:
1) Can we actually associate measurement to these goals? Well this mathematics graduate knows you can associate numbers/measurement to anything.
2) But, do we really care about all the data we want to collect?
3) Can we experience data overload? So much measurement we are not even sure what to do with the information…often times leaving us overwhelmed and less interested?

Maybe we should just focus our expectations…thus focus our data collection. OR…maybe we should focus on telling better stories?

Balancing business passions and life passions, keeping the focus!

Pure Joy!

What is your greatest passion…the one thing that drives you to get up in the morning and push harder and harder?

This is my greatest passion…my little rose!

Now I talk about my business passion: finding and telling great stories. yes…it is. But that is just one part of the bigger picture.

This little one makes me work harder, work smarter, and challenge myself to seek the balance in the work/life continuum.

A few months ago, I sat on a panel discussion where the audience were mothers of preschoolers (MOPS). They called it the man panel and the major part of the discussion was balancing work and home. I think there is a bigger balance for self-employed, small business, entrepreneurial individuals.

Each day, we balance so many pieces of this work/life pie:

  1. home (keeping the house running – the honey do’s)
  2. partner in life (keeping the one we love the most close)
  3. family (keeping our loved ones close to feel like family)
  4. children (being a good father with a profound presence)
  5. working in our business (executing the daily tasks to generate revenue)
  6. working on our business (planning and preparing for tomorrow)
  7. growing our business (thinking and preparing for opportunities beyond)
  8. keeping the focus on our passions (defining those passions in personal and business life)
  9. finding time for ourselves (time to recharge those batteries)

Now look at that list and you think, we can combine some of these points into categories, but i specifically left them separated. Each of these have become so important and it has even taken me years to bring language to all of those points. What do I mean? It is being able to have the wisdom to actually write each point down and recognize each of their relative importances.

I read a wonderful blog in the Harvard Business Review, here is an interesting quote:

“…according to one survey, 75 percent of male executives are married to homemakers.  It’s simply not possible to work 90 hours a week and see to your own basic needs – much less support someone else’s career. It works the other way, too: with only one salary to rely on, those husbands need all the wage premium they can get.”

It goes on to share this…

“Millennial men are beginning to do what women have done for decades: to work as consultants or start their own businesses that give them the flexibility for better work-family balance. A forthcoming study of New Models of Legal Practice by the Center for WorkLife Law documents lawyers in their prime who left large, prestigious law firms so they could practice law in ways that allow them to be more involved in children’s lives.”

Now I am a Gen X…so I miss this point by a few years. But…I can definitely relate. Sometimes I fell like I am a millennial. I did what all Gen X’s do. I attended a four year school and received a degree, got a job, and started working my way up the corporate ladder. BUT, a few years into my career…I realized that I was working too damn hard and not making enough money. Also…there was a cap on my long term opportunities.

So I started over…went back to graduate school to get a focused education. I was re-emerging in the business world in a post 911 era. A time when entrepreneurship was becoming common place in the tech world.

Realizing this path…working for myself, learning to start a family, and grow a business; the list above started emerging point by point.

This takes me back to my passion…my ultimate focus. Rose and Sarah are my passion and all things are wrapped around their lives sarah and the life we are building together.

Stories of Impact: Driving Data to improve EMS Care

This past summer, I had the privilege of meeting Tony Fernandez in Chapel Hill, NC. His story has many layers and his research impacts anyone who has or will have to use EMS to transport them to a SC/NC hospital.

Tony is a former EMT. He took his knowledge and experience into a graduate fellowship where he earned his PhD. His passion comes from his father, a fire fighter who lost his life from the prolonged exposure to the toxic dust from 911. Tony’s father was a first responder to the twin towers spending months combing through twisted debris, holding out hope for survivors.

As he shared his father’s story, we could see the passion in his eyes. He wanted to use his skills and education to make access to quality care better for the people in NC and SC.

He is the research director for the EMS Performance Center in Chapel Hill, NC. His research impacts improved response times and puts life-saving equipment where it’s most needed.

Bottom-line, his research collects the data from all the EMS response times across NC and SC. He crunches the data and helps EMS all across the two states improve efficiency. Why, because seconds matter.

Remember the story I share with you last year? His name was Mr. John Fields of Seneca, SC. (Click Here to See His Story). He had a heart attack in a rural area of Oconee County. He traveled over 60 plus miles by land and air to receive life saving care in 63 minutes…the time from the moment he called 911 until the cardiologist performed the procedure to save his life at GHS.

Each minute, each second counts…making Tony Fernandez’s work that much more important. Between 2007 and 2012, The Duke Endowment distributed more than $6 million in grants to strengthen emergency medical services in North Carolina and South Carolina. This funding has helped Tony reach some amazing goals.

To read more about Tony’s story, CLICK HERE.

The Storytelling Narrative – Sounds Like An Oxymoron

The storytelling narrative…sounds like an oxymoron? Well…there is a narrative in the content marketing space, and the primary focus for these marketers –> who is going to own the storytelling digital narrative. Hmm…

Since digital content marketing has become a buzz word, mission statement, and a service to provide…more and more “expert” storytellers are emerging. I am finding more and more organizations touting the ability to leverage audiences using this practice of storytelling. Just do a Google search and Twitter search for the word “Storytelling”.

Yes…we all can tell a story…but to what degree do people really care? And what do we view as a story. As a former journalist, stories were and still are my life. For so many years…I thought I could tell a great story using a camera, microphone, and a computer.

This was my ethic until I met Bob Dotson…who I think is one of the best storytellers in broadcast journalism. He shared something with me that changed the way I approach every project I produce. He shared with me his philosophy during dinner one evening.

Stories are like an onion, and it is up to us to help the audience peel back the layers. He went on to explain that many people can tell a story, but is it really a story when only layer  is revealed? True storytellers find stories with layers, ones that have deep meaning, deeper impacts, layers upon layers of little micro stories.

I love this idea of the onion and the storyteller’s burden to seek and find the truth in those layers. The true narrative lies in the connection of those layers as they are weaved together in a larger enterprise.

If you apply this idea of layers with content marketing, it is a perfect match. As content marketers, we know that it is not advantageous to only deliver the whole story at one time. If we can reveal each layer of a story, one link at a time, one picture at a time, one video at a time, one blog post at a time, one tweet at a time, etc…we can share a larger narrative that builds a larger digital brand.

We have the opportunity to expose a larger documentary, providing a path through this narrative (these micro-stories) revealing the thesis at the right time…the right moment.

So I thought I would share four things that I feel are a part of this larger storytelling narrative:

1) Finding the Story:
The act of finding a story that you can see, hear, feel, and relate. This is the vital. We not only have to find the first layer, we have to dig deep. We have to search for the onion. The goal is to find that story that can not only reveal itself in layers, but also provide digital accessibility for the audience. We want to sprinkle the digital space…one layer at a time.

2) Telling the story:
This is a part of the narrative where we bring the story to life. The art of articulating using words, visuals, sounds…elements that reach the audience in the fashion where they can see, hear, and feel the layers reveal themselves.

3) Seeking the Story:
As storytellers, we seek to tell, yet consumers seek to find a story. There is the part of the narrative where consumers use language to search for the story. Whether listening in a conversation or typing words into google, we must articulate what we want consumers to find. We have to give consumers language to use to find our stories! So as marketers of this larger narrative, we have to digitally brand our stories. How can we find and share the proper keywords, revealing them to the audience so that they find our story at the right moment in time.

4) Sharing the Story:
This is the part where pitching the story is important. Once we tell…we have to make the story repeatable in an efficient, expedient fashion. So articulating a status update, tweet, or sharing at the dinner table is a part of the sharing narrative. From word-of-mouth (WOM) to digital WOM, sharing is a strategy. How can we trickle each layer of the story so that we give the audiences reason to continually come back for more.