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How You Can Create Ridiculously Good Stories

Blog post   •   May 05, 2016 08:00 GMT

Robert Mckee, the world’s best-known and most respected screenwriting lecturer, defined a story as an expression of “how and why life changes”, or more specifically a story is an event that “throws life out of balance” and forces the protagonist to deal with “opposing forces”.

Now how is this relevant? Most of us have a tendency to accept the status quo. But you don’t have to. You may think that your company isn’t unique, or doesn’t have a story worth telling. But it does. I promise you there is something worth telling the world–or maybe not–but you should be able to capture an audience who cares. All you have to do is disrupt the balance.

Because if you challenge the norm, step out of your comfort zone, you create a message that earns people’s attention. Making a ripple effect is what you’d like to achieve, and you don’t do this by keeping things snug. You need to create a spark that will ignite that fire. So how do you go about this? How do you win an audience?

Create chaos

You need to embrace a new mind-set of challenging yourself, daring to step outside of your comfort zone and be a spearhead of change. Put things that don’t belong together, together. Stop for a minute and think, “Is there any other way of doing this? I know this way works and I’ve done it hundreds of times, but perhaps I should try something else”–you may be surprised by what you find.

The iconic figure Steve Jobs used the power of narrative to shake things up and is probably one of the best references in business storytelling. What made him exceptional was his ability to play on tensions and struggles, heroes and villains. The 1984 Apple Computer Macintosh commercial is one such exemplary story.

Dig deep

"Comment is free, but facts are sacred," wrote Guardian editor  CP Scott in 1921.

Nothing works better than hard tangible proof. Now your organisation exists for a reason and has a purpose, or it fits in a bigger socioeconomic or even political context. You have clients that use your products and services. Do some research and find out:

  • How do they use your products?
  • Why they use your products?
  • What are their general needs?
  • What are the significant developments in your industry?
  • Are there any external macro factors to consider?

What you will try to achieve here is to collect prepossessing data and insights you could use for storytelling purposes. The use of data has for reporting or storytelling become so commonplace it is simply a must. Collect data on your customers, industry or competitors. Look for patterns or abnormalities. Use whatever you can gather to garner a fresh perspective.

Ignite the fire

Mostly, you will want to use your data to tell your story in the best possible way. As Jennifer L. Aake, Stanford University Professor of Marketing, explains,"€œWhen data and stories are used together, they resonate with audiences on both an intellectual and emotional level."€

Once you have submerged yourself in whatever insights you collect, use that information to spark creativity, and create ongoing and uplifting disruptions – ones that stir conversation but not controversy. Use that spark to ignite your content creation in all its forms.

The creative process

Watch this video interview with Hermes Holm, Public Affairs Manager at Edelman Deportivo. He talks about the creative process within the context of the 100 Million Challenge and the work we are doing with  Hövding. We will apply the above three principles to help Hövding tell a great story.

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