UPS Again Shows Storytelling Chops

UPS continues to apply storytelling techniques

I talked about the communications savvy from UPS earlier in the year.

By applying storytelling techniques to a topic that typically falls under the dull category, UPS secured a feature in The Wall Street Journal entitled “UPS Thinks Outside the Box on Driving Training.”

I am a sucker for puns.

Lest you think this was a one-off success, check out the Bloomberg Businesweek piece called “Squeezing More Green Out of Brown.”

A terrific anecdote kicks off the story:

UPS managers are efficiency freaks. The company, for example, tells drivers to avoid left turns because they take longer than rights.

Who says that high school geometry class won’t come in handy in real life?

The story goes on to explain that UPS is outfitting its trucks with telematics systems that will monitor over 200 variables including how often and hard those UPS drivers step on the brakes.

I’m guessing screeching to a halt doesn’t go over well at the UPS HQ.

Why does UPS craft a story about internal operations?

Because the communications team recognizes the act of transporting a package from point A to point B isn’t going to crack a heavyweight business publication.

And you don’t find the UPS executives putting the kibosh on the efficiency story saying, “Tell me again how this type of story will bring in more customers and cause current customers to increase their spend.” They recognize any communication that shows the company’s smarts ultimately flows as goodness into the brand.

It’s also worth noting that UPS crafted the story with a strong visual element.

It’s not exactly an infographic but more sophisticated than the infoart found in USA Today.

Let’s call it ”story visualization.”

The next time an UPS driver stops by our office, I’ll be looking to see if the ignition key is properly dangling from his or her pinkie finger (another efficiency technique).

 

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4 comments

4 Comments so far

  1. lynnette mcintire December 23rd, 2010 3:01 pm

    Thanks so much for bringing such a ray of sunshine to our UPS PR Team! As our ad campaign says “We LOVE logistics!” — not just our drivers, but also our “enginerds” who figure out how to get your stuff there faster, better and greener.

  2. Lou Hoffman December 23rd, 2010 3:18 pm

    Lynette,

    Thanks for making a stop at Ishmael’s Corner (I know … the name needs some work).

    Your passion shows in the work.

    As I shared in the post, I’m impressed by how UPS applies storytelling techniques to its communications.

    The Businessweek piece I highlighted didn’t have big-time drama. But by pulling out anecdotes and quantifying the story, it made the “Amusing Quadrant” and warranted attention.

    Beyond evangelizing storytelling, I hope this blog can serve as an education forum for communications.

    With this in mind, if you (or someone from your team) wanted to contribute a guest post on how UPS builds such compelling content, I know others as well as myself would value the perspective.

  3. James January 8th, 2011 10:43 pm

    Great little post…the point about not stuffing product benefits into the end, ruining the story aspect is a good tip. And the left hand anecdote shows some good digging by the writer….it’s also motivating to know that stories don’t always have to be epic. UPS used a pretty nuanced story angle here. Thanks

    James (@jamesmulvey)

  4. Lou Hoffman January 9th, 2011 1:48 pm

    Your point that “stories don’t always have to be epic” resonates.

    If you can pull out an angle or even an anecdote that’s not in the public domain and compelling, you’ve got a good starting point to package a story.

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