Good stories pack an emotional punch

Yesterday, I was in a meeting with one of my clients and we were talking about what makes a good story. We both agreed on the need for a compelling beginning, middle and end. And more importantly, that the very best stories have an emotional draw — something that pulls you in, makes you care, leads to some telling insight, and changes you in some small, or big, way.

As luck would have it, today I was following one of my favourite websites called StoryCorps. It’s a project that was developed by PBS, and the purpose is to encourage real people from across America to tell their stories, and to archive those stories so that they can be shared with their loved ones.

As I listened to one story in particular, I was reminded that a lot of corporate storytelling is not necessarily about real people, and their very real, and human challenges. They’re about the brand, which can be something quite different from a ‘real’ story.

As a PR person, I’m convinced that there’s room for more of the ‘real people telling real stories’ approach to corporate storytelling. With so much visual clutter around us these days, it’s an incredibly strategic way to cut through and make an impression.

In my opinion, the story that follows is the real deal.

Take a minute and you’ll see what I mean.

storycorps.org/listen/dennis-and-barbara-hale/

 

Announcing a new spin on teamwork

Teamwork is one of those things that everyone says but not everyone does.

I’ve noticed that very often people think teamwork is just about what happens inside an organization. For example, cross-departmental or cross-functional teams are often assembled to develop a new product or to strategize about a new business opportunity. And they’re rewarded when they achieve certain objectives.

But teamwork is also about the relationships an organization builds with its external suppliers.

I’ve worked on both the client side (as part of the in-house communications team) and externally, on the services side (the agency), and here’s what I see: There’s nothing more frustrating and inefficient — for clients — as when suppliers don’t work together in common cause. Sometimes it’s about turf. Sometimes it’s about ego. Sometimes it’s just a matter of being so used to working in silos, why change?

But none of that makes sense, really. Clients pay good money not just for delivering what you say you’ll deliver. They also reward us with their loyalty when we deliver more than they expect. I’ve learned that when you think like a business — and act like one — it’s good for everyone. So when I see an opportunity to make the delivery of our work more streamlined, I let my clients know.

Recently, ML & CO. established a professional collaboration with designer Rex Eng at Public Good Social Marketing Communications (www.public-good.com). We did it because it makes business sense for our clients. Now, when our clients come to ML & CO. looking for strategic, branded content like annual/CSR reports or websites, I team up with Rex to deliver a killer design strategy, while ML & CO. provides the overarching communications strategy, key messaging and content development work, like we’ve always done.

We’ve been experimenting with this concept since last February, and we’re finding that it’s way more productive to work together than at cross-purposes. ML & CO. also uses the same approach for branded video content, enlisting the talents of Steve Watts Media, to bring our communications strategies to life on social media.

So far, the clients we’ve tried this approach with seem to really appreciate our ‘think-like-a-client’ approach. It’s a one-stop-shop way of doing things, for sure, and it helps to tighten the revisions and approvals process.

But it’s also about looking at content and design as two sides of the same strategic coin, from the moment the creative brief is developed to the time the final product is delivered. It’s about keeping our eye on the brand at all times, whether it’s in words, in images, in fonts or in colours.

From my perspective, teamwork really should be the tide that lifts all boats. I think we’ve found a practical way to deliver on this.