Dusting Off the Best ...


Hey, if Bono can assemble some of his favorites into “U2’s Greatest Hits,” why can’t I do the same with blog posts?


Tapping posts published between 2012 and 2014, here’s the latest version of Ishmael’s Greatest Hits (minus the tinted shades and tattoos).

The Worst Customer Service Narrative in the History of Branding

United Airlines has had a tough go of it lately. Extracting a customer from his seat against his will isn’t exactly a brand-building moment. Foreshadowing this event, I called out a United narrative five years ago titled, “Our United Customer Commitment,” which opens:

“We are committed to providing a level of service to our customer that makes us a leader in the airline industry.

Now, there’s a warm and friendly opener.


Rationale behind sending a check for $4,865 to a client

We often play the role of beta tester with startup clients to figure out if the product is ready for prime time. What happens when problems surface? We help the client course correct, or we diplomatically exit the assignment. In the case of one particular client, this meant cutting a check for $4,865 to cover services not provided.


Journalists Accept Apple’s “Storytelling Candy”

Like a poker player who’s holding most of the chips and exerting his will on the table, Apple leverages its position of strength with the media. While journalists don’t want to be “handled,” they make an exception for Apple. You can see how this plays out in real life during a trip by Tim Cook to Asia. By tightly controlling access, they ensured that a PR photo with a positive caption ended up in a range of mainstream media, including the LA Times:

Tim Cook Los Angeles Times


Helping Hand for Warren Buffett on Twitter

When I wrote about Warren Buffett’s first week on Twitter, he had managed to muster two tweets while amassing almost 400,000 followers. Fast forwarding to today, his tweets now number nine — last tweeted over a year ago — with 1.26 million followers. He might be a genius when it comes to investing, but the man needs help in mastering social media. It turns out that many of the tweets I ghosted for Warren in 2013  are still useable, like “Making small talk with @7eleven clerk. He thought Solomon Brothers was a brand of beef jerky.”


The Return of Storytelling vs. Corporate Speak

Our first breakthrough in social reach came from an infographic called “Storytelling vs. Corporate Speak.”

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Taking this a step further, we developed a SlideShare deck that takes a deeper look at storytelling, why it works and where communicators go wrong.


Genius Storytelling from the American Chemical Association

The same folks who publish “the molecule of the week” and find humor in the periodic table managed to crack the mainstream with storytelling techniques worthy of “Breaking Bad.” Leveraging the consumer’s love of Sriracha — I’ve yet to find a noodle that doesn’t taste better with it — the American Chemical Association created a video that explains in plain language the science behind the sauce and why your taste buds react the way they do, all with a touch of levity.


Business Storytelling in Budweiser Puppy Love Ad

Communication professionals can learn from our advertising brothers on the storytelling front. When you’re shelling out millions of dollars for a single ad, it has a way of tuning one’s senses. The Budweiser ad that ran during a Super Bowl shows how the classic story arc can be teased out in 60 seconds. This post breaks it down and proves once again that there is no story unless bad stuff happens. If you need more proof, watch a Dennis Hopper movie.

budweiser puppy love graph


Omnicom and Publicis Finally Agree on a Message: We’re Done!

The delicious irony of two of the largest communication companies in the world bungling the communications behind their proposed merge was too good to ignore. I decided to imagine what the dialogue between Maurice Levy and John Wren — the heads of Publicis and Omnicom — might have sounded like as they tried to salvage the transaction. This post ran on LinkedIn, but borrows from Ishmael’s Corner.

Until I get the band together again —




  • Daily PR Brief - Tue 05/30/17 - ITK Blog

    […] Blog – May 30, 2017) 6 red flags from prospective PR clients (Ragan – May 27, 2017) Dusting Off the Best of Storytelling, Branding and PR (Ishmael’s Corner – The Hoffman Ag… What I Learned From Crisis Media Training (Business 2 Community – May 26, 2017) 3 ways to […]

  • Storytelling

    […] View the whole post at Ishmael’s Corner → […]


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