The Top 10 Storytelling ...


If there were ever a year that proved life is better than fiction, it was 2016.

As always, subjectivity rules my curation of the best posts of the year. In fact, the most popular post of the year, “Fresh Take on Influence in the Tech Industry” — thank you, Kara Swisher, for that one tweet that triggered a stampede of views — didn’t make the cut.

What I like about this year’s list of Top 10 posts is that they reflect a microcosm of the blog. More than write about the state of the communications industry, I strive to probe the many areas that touch or even intersect with traditional business communications like owned media, sponsored content and journalism, among others.

Of course, the story of the year — the story of the century? — was Mr. Trump’s ascent to the “throne.” Two posts on this year’s presidential election make the Top 10.

Without further ado, here goes.

1. The Best Obituary I Have Ever Read

Phil Sayer England's Railway sign

When I read something that causes a holy-&%$#& moment, I’m keen to understand the construction of the copy, flow and choice of words. Such was the case with this obituary that appeared in The Economist. I don’t know if reverse-engineering the narrative improved my writing, but I enjoyed the exercise.

2. Conversational Language as a Differentiator

As evangelist of conversational language, I believe most business communications can be improved by asking a simple question: Does it sound like it came from an actual human being? This post riffs on a Wall Street Journal column by Daniel Henninger who makes the point that Donald Trump’s off-the-cuff rhetoric is more persuasive than Hillary Clinton’s carefully scripted sound bites.

3. The FTC’s Quixotic Fight Against Native Advertising

Tasking the Federal Trade Commission to make sense of the world of native advertising is like asking me to perform heart surgery. Even if you allowed for a proper education, I still couldn’t pull it off. The agency’s announcement earlier this year of an “enforcement policy” on native advertising affirms this point. The FTC wants native advertising to fit in a tidy box. The reality is that it’s messy.

4. The Untold History of the News Release (infographic)

October 28 1906 image

The news release turned 110 years old earlier this year. How fitting that a train wreck prompted this invention of the news release. Given its auspicious start, it’s no wonder that the news release has aged with the grace of a 59-year old man shooting jump shots at the local park (that would be me).

5. The “F Word” in Storytelling and Business

Pick your favorite movie and novel and you’ll find one common denominator. Failure. Naturally, this poses a problem for communicators and their quest to amplify the goodness of their companies or clients. Yet, there are ways to package failure as an asset in business communications.

I’ll publish the rest of list on Thursday.

Stay tuned.


  • Frank Strong

    It’s the interesting thing about social shares — the most shared is not always the most viewed. Organic search isn’t as visual, but it is often a far greater source of engagement by an order of magnitude.

    • Lou Hoffman

      Totally agree. It still amazes me to see how social shares often don’t correlate to views. But that wasn’t the case with Kara Swisher who’s single tweet brought a stampede of views.

  • George

    What a year for storytelling! I think 2016 has certainly set the stage for some even bigger storytelling opportunities in 2017! Love the work, keep it up!


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