By Chad Tingle
Spielberg, Scorsese, Cameron, Tarantino. The directors’ Mount Rushmore. While the title “Director” is probably on their business card, if you were to ask them to describe what they do, they would probably answer you in one word. “Storyteller.” While everyone has a story to tell, not everyone can tell a story.
I spent twenty-five years focusing on storytelling and the importance of storytelling as a documentary filmmaker. I also have a wealth of experience working in TV advertising as a director and producer. I learned that everyone has a story, but not everyone can tell their story authentically and convincingly.
What we once thought of as entertainment has been rebranded as content. Business owners would contact me and ask for quotes to produce videos for their website. The scenario would go like this. “We have a script, and we want it to say this, or can you help us make it look like that commercial we saw on TV.”
Most of these people had no writing or advertising experience, but they had built a business from the ground up.
As a business owner myself, I can relate. They were successful entrepreneurs and thought, I can do this! I would say, “It’s good that you have a script, but does it reflect your business and who you are as a business owner? And does it have the message you have in mind? Is this the message your audience expects from you?
I would ask them to tell me the story of the company, who started it and why. We were talking about the ups, downs, goals, competitive advantages and where they wanted to go. The answers to these questions always fascinate me. They stoked my curiosity and creativity because they had the context. Through communication and conversation, a story began to take shape and was often the opposite of the initial concept.
Social media platforms have disrupted the traditional storytelling media of radio and television by democratizing who can tell a story, when they can tell that story, and how they can tell it. There have been huge benefits in the forms of creativity, inclusivity, and massive cost reduction that have leveled the advertising playing field for businesses, nonprofits, and individuals. Through strategic planning and targeting, we can all find an audience that matches our values and wants to hear our story.
But there are also disadvantages. Businesses and organizations often miss the mark, using a scattershot approach of posting an abundance of “content” without context. It lacks storytelling and devalues the meaning of their story. It also lacks authenticity. While it might be easy to grab a stock photo or video and attach relevant terms about your business, today’s consumers value and value authenticity and will see through regurgitated attempts to engage them.
We’re in an age where a company’s story and founder’s journey drives consumer engagement and decision-making. Spanx and its founder Sara Blakely come to mind. She’s been transparent about her journey from fax machine saleswoman to CEO of a company that’s a fixture in the women’s shapewear market. She owns her tale of ups, downs, deferred dreams, and her eventual success. His account is authentic and makes his story and that of his company fascinating.
We now live in what will forever be known as the “new normal”, and we will be talking about the COVID era for the foreseeable future. The past year has been difficult for all of us and paralyzing for the health sector. The narrative we are currently living adds value to who we are and where we want to go. We will tell the story of the workers on the front lines of COVID, the lives lost, the lives saved, and most importantly, how this event changed our lives. Storytelling is and always will be a valuable tool as we move forward because it teaches us, challenges us, and inspires us!
So how are you going to use your narrative? How are you going to tell your story? Will it be authentic and convincing?
For more information, contact Chad Tingle at (305) 794-7201 or firstname.lastname@example.org.