Storytellers Will Own Content
Who’s going to lead the content marketing revolution? The futurebuzz.com Magic 8-Ball says PR. Mine says something different.
But then, I asked it a different question. I didn’t ask, “Oh wondrous Magic 8-Ball, which marketing communications discipline will render a Content Smackdown unto lesser marketing disciplines?”
Instead, I asked: Dudeford, what makes for great content, anyhoo?
Turns out it’s all about story.
Clients, more-and-more, get this. It doesn’t matter if the shingle outside the door says PR, Advertising, Digital Marketing, or Ghost-Written-Greeting-Cards-R-Us. They want people who can find stories in the detritus of spec sheets, positioning documents and mind-numbing conference calls. And there’s no question our target audiences–otherwise known as “people”–get it. They vastly prefer to read/view/click on stories, not product brochures.
So if it’s all about story, seems to me storytellers are the people you want. FutureBuzz thinks PR will own content, ultimately, because “PR teams possess the executive perspective on editorial which is the natural skill set to lead content.” Yeah. Maybe. Editorial perspective matters. But editorial is just one kind of storytelling. (And don’t get me started on “relationships” versus content. I have “relationships” with reporters, but no one ever went with a story because we had lunch or dinner. They wrote because I proposed a good story.) More than ever, we have the power to hop, skip and jump right over the influencers and publish on our own.
Point is: the firms that find, hire, nurture and retain great storytellers, will win.
And storytellers can come from almost any discipline (not to mention no discipline at all). The renowned late American poet, James Dickey–best known for his classic novel, Deliverance–worked in advertising for years. (And after his boss once introduced him in a new business meeting as someone who “dabbled in poetry,” Dickey reportedly sneered, “I am a poet. I dabble in advertising!”) Of course there was that great tech storyteller Steve Jobs, who figured out his company would tell stories about people who “think different.” Long before the clean tech industry emerged, a guy named Ansel Adams was telling stories about the wonders of the natural world. Here’s one worth several thousand words, in my humble opinion.
And to give a more modern, digital example, I’ve embedded a riveting story–a classic “whodunnit?”–from an amateur storyteller who gives us amazing mystery, conflict, suspense, characters (oh, the characters!) in one minute and sixteen seconds. No wonder it’s been viewed nearly two million times. (How many clicks did your last press release get?)
So, PR may own content. But to do so, our profession needs to start by asking different questions.
- Who are we interviewing, and hiring?
- Are we talking to liberal arts majors? Photographers? Filmmakers? Stop-motion-clay-animation hobbyists?
- Do WE get the difference between message, and story? Are we counselling our clients to understand the difference?
- Do we ever put aside the WSJ and the trades to expose ourselves to the bigger universe of stories?
Let us know how you see it. The Magic 8-Ball may not have all the answers, but what else should we PR pros be asking?