Applying Storytelling Techniques To ...


Blogging is the new black at corporations.

Everyone is doing it.

And it’s not just large companies that fall under the technology umbrella. Want to know what’s on the mind of Bill Marriott and the “wacky” world of hotels –  latest post titled “Honesty Is The Best Policy” – no problem.

It makes sense. After all, why wouldn’t companies take advantage of what amounts to digital pulpits to communicate their perspectives to the outside world.

Unfortunately, this corporate blogging phenomenon is generating a ton of content with writing that can kindly be described as dreadful. Why does the writing quality and specifically the entertaining quality of a blog matter?

Given a choice between dull or compelling, people gravitate toward compelling. This is why more people watch American Idol than C-SPAN and how Jim Cramer has built the Mad Money franchise (although I’m not suggesting yelling is a form of a storytelling).

That’s the idea of applying storytelling techniques to blogging. It pushes the content toward the compelling quadrant.

No one expects a scientist coming out of R&D to write like David Pogue from The New York Times. Geez, I wish I could bring such cleverness and levity to my own blog.

But that same scientist can absolutely improve his or her blog content by using techniques found in classic storytelling.

For example –

Just trusting your ear and writing with a conversational tone improves a blog.

There’s a reason that anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of the content in Economist articles are anecdotes. They entertain and show a certain realness.

Recognize that drama comes from contrast, showing the difference between “what was” and “what is.” The greater the difference, the greater the drama.

All of these concepts and others help people who don’t write for a living tell their stories in a more entertaining fashion.

Conventional wisdom holds that you shouldn’t be different for the sake of being different.

I disagree.

There are millions of blogs out there.

It’s tough to break through the noise.

If you’ve got a way to be different, give it a shot.

Your Google Analytics numbers will tell you whether it worked or not.


  • Robert Samuel

    Great article Lou. Story telling is a highly effective technique for small business blogging as well. People always want to identify with the publisher or product. 🙂

  • Lou Hoffman

    Completely agree Robert.

    Storytelling cultivates “connecting” with others regardless of company size.

    I think blogging is particularly suited for the small-biz space because the barriers of entry are so low. You no longer need technical expertise to create a blog through platforms such as WordPress.

  • Sarah Lafferty

    Your post made reflect on what a great achievement it is indeed for a writer to develop an individual style that is instantly recognisable. He or she must have the technical skill to apply grammatical rules, then apply ‘art’ by experimenting with cadence, structure, proximity (to the reader) attitude, and other elements. Lou, I think you’ve managed to pull this off so hats off to you.

  • Lou Hoffman

    Thanks Sarah.

    I spoke on the broad topic of social media this morning in front of an audience largely consisting of data center professionals.

    During the Q&A, I was reminded that companies are asking people to blog who typically have no formal training in writing (much less blogging).

    I’ve tempted to flood HR departments with our corporate blogging workshop.


Leave a Reply