Speaking of Storytelling ...


I took the “story” on the road during the month of May.

As a closet introvert, I make a conscious effort to push myself beyond cubicleland.

Here’s a snapshot of how May played out.

UnGeeked Elite in Chicago (May 12)

Cd Vann has created the “uncola” of gathering. The speakers are charged with leading a discussion, not pontificating via a slide presentation.

I spoke on building brands through storytelling.

The session proved be extremely interactive … thankfully because I followed Cd’s instructions and kept my visuals to a bare minimum.

I particularly enjoyed the discussion on how the “About Us” section on web sites is a wasted opportunity most of the time. Rishi Tea, a company with a compelling story, served as an exhibit A (with the permission of the social media head in attendance).

Innovation Journalism Conference at Stanford (May 23)

This year’s conference included a communications track for the first time.

I moderated a panel on “paid media vs. earned media vs. owned media.”

To say the sparks were flying might be an overstatement but the topic definitely offered fodder for varied takes.

As I shared during the intro:

You have journalists acting as communicators, promoting their stories through Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. You have communicators acting as journalists, churning out newspaper-like copy. You have companies supplementing – some might argue bypassing – third-party media in creating their own media properties that reflect many of the same tenants of their objective brethren. Take Red Bull for example and its decision to publish and sell a magazine called the Red Bulletin.

Kudos to panelists Fredrik Winterlind, VP of global marketing at Black & Veatch; Sarah Granger, social media innovator and consultant; and Tom Foremski who’s built Silicon Valley Watcher into a must read in the tech sector.

While not on storytelling per say, there was a consensus among the panelists that if the content is good, the source takes a back seat.

Storytelling Workshop (May 26)

We’ve been conducting storytelling workshops for corporations for several years.

I think it’s fair to say they advance the story.

But the session last week was unique, tag teaming with Pete Lewis who spent a number of years reporting for the New York Times and Fortune.

Blending the journalist and communications perspectives added a fresh dimension to the curriculum.

Along this line, journalists don’t want to talk with executives who parrot the party line and communicators are striving to help executives embrace conversational language.

I have a theory that stiffness of language increases as the executive moves up the corporate ladder.

Smartest Kid In The Room

Simply evolving an executive’s style to embrace conversational language and talk like a “human being” often constitutes progress.

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