The Value of Storytellers...

Once upon a time someone (more than one) may have thought that, in this digital age, the art of storytelling would die.

For those horrified at the thought, rest easy – there’s a happy ending.

In telling you this story, I am referencing a piece by Azadeh Williams who spoke to leading marketers/brand experts (from the United States, Australia and New Zealand) about what they are doing to improve the art of storytelling capability within their teams.

The pleasing thing is that not only was this a question considered worth asking, but also that all three experts rated storytelling so highly. Furthermore, journalists were applauded. (Disclaimer: I am a journalist.)

In response to Williams’ question, Ivanti (IT software company) chief marketing officer Steve Morton had this to say:

“The answer is simple. Hire journalists. We already have plenty of product experts, but it’s rare to find deep technical expertise and great communicators in the same person. Go find someone with a news background. You can always teach them the other stuff.”

Good journalists, he says, know how to get to the point, know the importance of connecting with an audience, respect deadlines, are naturally curious and know how to find the story behind the story. Journalists know that no-one cares about a product release, he says. But it’s likely they’ll find the associated emotion / the story - if there is one - and weave it in to something publishable.

Caroline Francis - the marketing director of NZ based company Jade Software – says fifty per cent of the company’s marketing team is made up of storytellers who write content audiences love.

“Whether it’s through a clever blog post, an opinion paper, physical direct mail, or email, relevant content that engages your audience will delight your sales team and deliver quality leads to the business.”

Good writers add colour to content, she adds.

Gone are the days, she says, of telling people about your product through glossy brochures and Web content and expecting them to buy.

“Content is now king and the art of good storytelling through digital and offline mediums lies behind this”.

Williams also spoke to Graham White of Australia’s Howorth, Ogilvy PR’s. (White is the group managing director of this specialist business and technology communications agency).

He says that with the huge pressures faced by in-house marketing and communications teams, agencies have a more vital role to play than ever as clients shift their focus away from corporate messaging to credible storytelling.

“We’re hiring journalists, videographers and other specialists to produce high-quality content that will resonate with the intended audiences,” he says.

The art of brand storytelling was deemed by CMO to be a leading issue for chief marketing officers to consider. CMO is the newest media title from IDG Communications, the world’s leading technology media, events and research company. Azadeh Williams’ article appeared in that publication.

By Monique Balvert-O’Connor


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