After eight years and 893 posts, I figure there’s enough data to highlight the most viewed posts of all time with a straight face.
It’s fitting that half of the posts from the top 10 do not fall squarely under the storytelling umbrella. While storytelling in business communications serves as the basis of the blog, any topic — digital, journalism, paid media, etc. — that’s part of communications is potential fodder for a post.
Borrowing from David Letterman style, the countdown starts with the post in the 10th slot.
When the McKinsey Quarterly published “Revealing Your Moment of Truth” back in 2010, I wanted to give a standing ovation (ultimately decided this would be weird since I was by myself). Here was the bluest of blue-chip management consultants saying:
The purpose of leadership isn’t to increase shareholder value or the productivity of work teams, though effective leadership does these things. Rather, the purpose of leadership is to change the world around you in the name of your values, so you can live those values more fully and use them to make life better for others. The process of leadership is to turn your values into a compelling cause for others.
Enter storytelling stage left.
No question, the biggest trap that U.S. companies fall into when it comes to global PR is what I affectionately called “Americanitis,” the belief that a company’s image magically crosses the Atlantic and Pacific, conforms to local societies, adapts to local market nuances and reaches its targeted constituencies. Unfortunately, such an attitude leads to thinking that the same PR tactics and strategies that work so well in the U.S. can be thrown over the fence to be used in other countries.
Given the direct correlation between the recruitment of talent and success, it’s baffling that companies continue to churn out job descriptions like soulless widgets on an assembly line. This job description from Medium is an exception to the rule.
The problem isn’t fake news. The problem is that people don’t take the time to understand who’s behind a media property and frame a given article with context. Unfortunately, President Trump’s name calling of the mainstream media that smacks of a third-grade playground — “liar, liar pants on fire” — is having an effect. The University of Missouri surveyed over 8,000 consumers on what publications they trust. I was surprised and sobered by the results.
I crushed Toyota in 2010 when the car maker tried to salvage its reputation with a dreadful letter to customers. The car maker’s second try reflected common sense and command of the English language.
As a five-foot-two point guard for my high school basketball team, I learned to enjoy the David-versus-Goliath story at a relatively early age. This post riffs on a Malcolm Gladwell essay in The New Yorker, “How David Beats Goliath,” with a contrarian premise:
“David’s victory over Goliath, in the Biblical account, is held to be an anomaly. It was not. Davids win all the time.”
Even you don’t have the gifts of Hemingway or Spielberg, these five storytelling techniques will add oomph to any business communications. Nothing says storytelling like the underutilized anecdote. I was pleased to see this one crack the top 10 since it was published fairly recently in 2015.
How this post cracked the top 10 remains a mystery. It’s definitely not the writing or the punch line. “Hey, you’ve been a great audience, but take a pass on this one.”
One my favorite posts in response to Toyota’s customer letter after a recall, I feel this is when my voice started to take a shape:
As the letter comes down the home stretch, one would logically expect an empathetic close. Instead, we’re treated to a lesson in Auto Management 101:
Stopping production is never an easy decision — but we’re confident it’s the right thing to do for our customers.
Fellas, you are the largest car maker in the world. You’ve stockpiled over $25B in cash on the balance sheet. I don’t think you’re going to find customers feeling guilty that you had to temporarily halt the assembly line.
The spike in views from the third slot came from an onslaught of folks searching on the PR crisis.
Now comes the drum roll.
And the No. 1 all-time viewed post is …
1. Storytelling vs. Corporate Speak (infographic)
There’s beauty in simplicity. That’s why this infographic has proved timeless.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that it’s an example of the storytelling technique, contrast.
As a consultancy, we got the SEO religion many years ago.
This top 10 list offers a proof point on how SEO in the right hands is the gift that keeps on giving. None of these posts generated over 1,000 views when initially published. Spread this pixie dust across 893 posts, you’ve got long-tail searching at its best.
While BuzzFeed generates this type of traffic in minutes, it’s not too shabby for a niche blog aimed at communications.
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to parachute in.