Archive for October, 2010

Visual Storytelling Via Slideshare: How Communicators Should Evolve

I got the SlideShare religion back in June.

The medium allows you to craft a story that the audience can consume in a few minutes. Plus, you gain another digital touch point that easily integrates into your overall social media strategy.

We’ve used SlideShare as a tool to evangelize the power of storytelling in the deck “Aligning PR with Storytelling for the Happily Ever After.”

Now, we’re taking a different approach with the platform, translating the blog post “10 Ways Communicators Must Evolve: 4 Perspectives on 4 Communication Issues” into “SlideSharese.” 

Does this deck reflect the true essence of storytelling?

It certainly isn’t Hemingway or even Elmore Leonard.

But by applying storytelling techniques – contrast, the unexpected, a pinch of levity, etc. – to a visual depiction of the content, we’ve created a business story with an entertainment dimension.

That’s the direction we’re taking our clients as well.


The Story Is Always There

I was honored that Kathy Hansen invited me to participate in her Q&A series.


She asked me to share one piece of advice or wisdom on storytelling.


My response -


The story is always there.


I truly believe this.


Every company has something compelling to say. But like discovery in the legal sphere, it can take some digging to get to the “compelling” part.


Years ago we supported National Semiconductor who asked us to develop a campaign for a new version of semiconductor called an EEPROM (electrically erasable programmable read-only memory). On the surface, this isn’t exactly a topic that conjures drama and the media spotlight.


As part of our discovery exercise, we asked the product manager about potential uses for the new chip. It turns out that one of the target applications was keyless locks for cars.


Apparently, bad guys were intercepting the signal from keyless locks. When the car owner left, the thief would replay the recorded signal to break into the car. This EEPROM had what was called a rolling code generator, preventing an intercepted signal from opening the car.


This insight led us to the insurance industry and researching auto theft. One insurance company provided us with surveillance video of an auto theft. A second company pointed us to an auto museum that included a history of auto security devices. It turned out one of the earliest theft-prevention devices for cars was a blow-up man that one would place in the driver’s seat so potential thieves perceived the car was occupied.


You can’t make this stuff up.


Armed with this “texture,” we were able to package a story for the humble EEPROM that played on a number of broadcast outlets.


You can see how the story elements come together in the video below.

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Condiment War Unleashes Unsavory Diatribe

mustard dayNational Mustard Day took place on August 7.


Who knew?


I got kick out of the City of Middleton’s proclamation.


Typically, these types of proclamations are the epitome of dull, paying proper homage to the topic at hand and being careful not to offend anyone.


Not the case for the mustard evangelists.


It’s not enough that mustardites praise the virtue of the yellow stuff.

WHEREAS mustard makes people smart, attractive, lucid, clever, kind, and condimentally correct …

And call out Middleton as a ketchup-free zone.


In addition to touting the virtues of mustard, they attack ketchup with certain verve: 

WHEREAS, according to the National Condiment Research Council 2010 Annual Report, “ketchup is now the leading cause of childhood stupidity.” 

I admire the mustard movement’s attempt to apply storytelling techniques to a proclamation.


I’m not sure blaming ketchup for childhood stupidity quite hits the mark.


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Reuters EIC: “The Conversation About The Story Is As Important As The Story Itself”

reuters schlesingerTalk about the future of journalism often takes on a victim-istic tenor.

That’s why the post from Reuters EIC David Schlesinger “Changing Journalism; Changing Reuters” stands out.

Rather than lament, he’s charging the hill.

There’s poetic sensibility in his words:


Knowing the story is not enough.

Telling the story is only the beginning.

The conversation about the story is as important as the story itself.

This is a far cry from the days of Walter Cronkite telling everyone what to think Monday through Friday at 6 p.m. From Schlesinger’s perspective, the journalist takes on the dual role of reporting as well as pulling in other relevant information from others who may or may not be professionals.

Along this line, he clearly sees Reuters embracing social media:

What is great about 2010 is that technology has created a completely new concept of community. And it has given that community new powers to inform and connect.

It’s interesting to read these words with the context of supporting a client called ScribbleLive which has created a content management system that marries the newsroom with social media. In fact, it just so happens that Reuters uses the ScribbleLive platform to do some of the very things highlighted by Schlesinger. For example, Reuters covered the Gulf Spill this way, augmenting its reporting with third-party content.

Schlesinger goes on to say the Reuters model will combine the best of both worlds, “the professionalism of the journalist and the power of the community.”

Underpinning the Reuters approach, storytelling remains a core tenet as Schlesinger shares:

If we have learned anything from these past two years, it has been that pure facts are not enough.

Pure facts don’t tell enough of the story; pure facts won’t earn their way …

We’ve been drowning in facts, and that deluge continues to threaten.

I’m surprised the Schlesinger post hasn’t caused more buzz in the blogosphere and among the “journorati.”

What Schlesinger has written is more than an insider’s look at Reuters adjusting to a digital world that puts the consumer in charge.

It’s a manifesto for news organizations around the world.


ESPN Suggests Storytelling Is A Girl Thing

ESPN LogoThe New York Times reported on Friday that ESPN plans to launch espnW.

That’s right.

An all-sports channel totally focused on serving one audience: women.

ESPN has cracked the code when it comes to extending its brad to sub-audiences. By 2020, I’m predicting the launch of espnBB, programming rich in shuffle board, darts and other sports easy on the joints for aging baby boomers.

But I digress.

Here’s the line that caught my attention from the mouth of Laura Gentile, vice president of espnW:

“Storytelling is important to women”

While she doesn’t come out and say woman like storytelling more than men, she goes on to imply this very point:

“Which is why more women than men watch the Olympics where the coverage tends to focus on the personal journeys of the athletes.”


Are you telling me the story of Eddie the Eagle and his ski jumping exploits only captured the imagination of female watchers?

I can’t imagine gender determining who watches Michael Phelps wolf down 10,000 plus calories as part of his training regimen.

Because storytelling is important to men too.

To bring attention to the cause, I hereby dub this movement MENS (men enjoy new stories).

As the first official act of MENS, I’m asking the men of America to boycott espnW.

Ms. Gentile will rue the day she played the gender card in storytelling.


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