3 Things You Should Know About Storytelling

My agency has helped dozens of large, multinational companies frame and then deliver narratives about innovation and technology, and those experiences have taught us how to best tell stories.

Interestingly, it has nothing to do with creativity.

A story is good or bad depending on its structure, first and foremost. You don’t need a literature professor to tell you that good stories share common qualities: protagonists, conflict and uncertainty, human drama, internal consistency and, most of all, they describe things that are believably true.

These principles apply equally to news reports from battlefields, corporate press releases, and romance novels.

No amount of agency brilliance can overcome your communications challenge if your content is deficient in one or more of these qualities, of it you’re unwilling to embrace and share them. If they promise otherwise — offering creativity as some panacea workaround — they’re either lying, or don’t know what they’re talking about.

In fact, the real opportunity is to be strategic and, okay, creative, in the telling part of storytelling, and here are 3 things you should know before the next time you do it:

First, find someone who wants to hear your story, which is far more complex than identifying reporters’ beats or favorite topics. Your story needs to reflect the POV, tone, revelations, use of quotes, and other attributes that will predispose a writer to listen you your pitch, and hopefully internalize and share it.

It’s also what they’re going to do to your story anyway, so you might as well spend the time a priori to tee it up to them; doing so will improve your targeting, and help you avoid pitching someone who might want to do something very different with it.

And, though it may be a rude shock to your executives, nobody wants to hear what they have to say…unless it includes those structural qualities that make stories believable, engaging, and worth sharing. Few execs can manage this without some help and focus.

So, even if you have a great story, you’re toast if you don’t embrace the tools necessary for telling it…

Read the entire essay at Linkedin