The Art of Storytelling: Confess Your Sins and Add Some Color

Wilson Cleveland  Follow

Last week while prepping for a conversation with serial entrepreneur and all-around neat guy Guy Kawasaki I came across a post in the American Express OPEN Forum that he'd shared with the bazillion readers of his "How to Change the World" blog called "The 7 Deadly Sins of Business Storytelling."

I realized what I was reading was, in essence, both a manifesto for the modern PR pro and sage advice for every corporate communicator navigating the new normal of media relations without a compass.

Number two on this list of storytelling sins would be number one on mine and is precisely what I believe separates the PR people from the true communicators:

From "The 7 Deadly Sins of Business Storytelling:"

Telling. Show, don’t tell, is the most fundamental maxim of storytelling, and for a good reason. Your audience should see a picture, feel the conflict, and become more involved with the story -- they’re not receptacles for a series of facts. If you tell a story as though you were not there, it distances your listeners. Describe what is happening as if it were in front of you. As Mark Twain said, “Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.”

Repetitive regurgitation of corporate boilerplates always checks the protocol box and can be a great line of defense in a PR crisis but too often companies fear adding a dash of color (orange is nice) to how they tell their story and end up wondering why nobody gets excited about another beige wall.  Trust me, with so many vibrant colors now at your disposal like video, social media and mobile apps, your audience is whispering about your need for a makeover.

PR is all about storytelling after all but if nobody is listening, it may be time to work on your delivery. CJP  

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