Storytelling is a crucial component of successful marketing and PR, and this year it’s more important than ever (a view supported by our marketing trends meta-analysis). Of course storytelling has been a critical part of all cultures (literally all) for a very, very long time. Historians trace storytelling back at least 30,000 years, a view based on the illustrative and descriptive cave drawings at Lamaux and Cascaux, France. In fact experts believe it’s been part of the human experience since just after the emergence of language itself. Great stories such as Homer’s Iliad, the animal legends of the Choctaw Native Americans and the Sumerian Tales of Gilgamesh would have been passed down orally long before they were ever written down. Since then stories have flooded our consciousness down through the centuries keeping us entertained and informed.
For human beings this means that we are 100% bought into storytelling as a means of communicating useful and valuable information, not just as a cultural habit, but very possibly as part of our DNA through deeply embedded genetic memory – a psychology theory supported by recent (2013) neuroscientific research on mice.
Storytelling is a staple in most educational systems, and remember it is an integral part of many young children’s bedtime rituals and the way that we introduce them to the world and new ideas and learned experiences. Of course as adults we consume stories through most media channels day in and day out, remembering the better ones as a salutary lesson in the need for quality.
Unsurprisingly storytelling has many benefits; for example in the young, research has shown it fosters imagination, boosts listening and communication skills, sharpens memory and improves social skills. These benefits also translate into adulthood and according to some research also has great benefit for older adults in terms of stimulation, mental health, resilience and happiness.
It should be no surprise then that for business the benefits of storytelling as part of your PR, marketing and brand strategy are manifold too:
Storytelling makes things sticky: We remember things more clearly when there’s an emotional element involved. More neurons are firing when this happens and so the memory is ‘imprinted’ in us more heavily. Storytelling elicits much more of an emotional response than a sales pitch or factoid-heavy advert.
Storytelling allows you to communicate without it sounding like a sales pitch: Whether it’s a personal story or how your product came into being, a story bypasses the negative perception associated with straightforward selling.
Storytelling holds attention: The thing about a story is people want to keep listening to find out what happens next. This is fantastic for conveying more information without boring people or losing their focus – and if you break your communication down into a series of stories people might just keep coming back for more.
Storytelling persuades positively and effectively: We all love a good story and when we hear one our brain makes connections with other similar stories or personal experiences we’ve had. This does two things – it amplifies emotions connected to the story and increases the likelihood that we’ll believe what we are told, assuming this is the authentic intent.
Storytelling communicates your brand, vision and culture effectively: As per the ‘sticky’ benefit above it’s tricky to retain lots of facts, however, through a well-crafted story we can provide a more powerful framework to convey a brand’s values, vision and culture and often we’ll remember how we feel about something long after we’ve forgotten exactly what the specific ROI we may gain might be.
There are undoubtedly more benefits to storytelling but the above alone provides a compellingly clear view on why it should be core to every company’s communications strategy, whether you’re a multi-national or a start-up.
Critically there’s many things a story both is and isn’t. Confusion around this can heavily dilute the impact and success of a story. There’s a blend of science and art, a ‘secret sauce’ if you like, to the process of creating compelling stories and narrative arcs that do justice to your brand, services, and people. Fortunately part of our story at Good Karma Media is the constant development and application of these skills and knowledge to ensure our clients resonate with, and attract, attention and reaction from all desired stakeholder groups.
Did you know the way that you construct a story and even how your text looks needs to be carefully thought through for every media and device scenario. And then there is the language and tonality to mention just a couple of dimensions of a complex authoring process that is designed to drive maximum engagement and relevance.
We’d love to help you tell your story - and add to it. By working with a social enterprise like Good Karma Media you can make a difference to society without reducing or increasing your available marketing spend. For us doing good is your business as usual. Check out our website and get in touch. There is much more to say. Contact us at;