(Hero’s Journey image above excerpted from Action Philosophers! © Ryan Dunlavey and Fred Van Lente)
Roland Barthes, master linguist and semiotician once said: “There are countless forms of narrative in the world.” And yet the majority of western storytellers have been ploughing just one narrative model for well over 60 years: Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey from the Hero with a Thousand Faces.
While it has its value, Campbell’s model is not a useful model for digital story design on a structural level. Down below, I offer four alternative narrative structures that we could use to design intelligent stories more fitting to our digital context. I’ve kept references to a minimum for ease of reading. So why the big deal about structure?
Structure makes the digital world go round
From data models and information architectures to the taxonomies and ontologies used in content strategy, clearly defined structures allow our stories to be read, understood, delivered, discovered and managed by our digital plumbing.
In fact, structured content is fast becoming a necessity, not a luxury. That’s why content strategists are already exploring intelligent content: Read more …
As a rule, every business discipline has tried and tested processes and techniques others can understand, learn, and even apply for themselves. These give credence to that discipline. Communication is often seen as an exception to the rule — its success determined by the art of storytelling. In reality, it’s not true. Welcome to GAME — a four step process to improve the quality of your communications — and storylining, the step that comes before storytelling.
You know you have to step up your core communication skills when:
• An incredible 83% of execs say their business strategy isn’t well understood internally (Strategy&, 2014)
• 85% of marketers fail to connect their content marketing with any business value (BMA/Forrester, 2014) and;
• Fewer than 50% of communicators believe all of their work is aligned with strategy and goals (AlignYourOrg, 2014).
With all the hype on storytelling today you’d be forgiven for thinking that it is the ultimate panacea to all business communication ills — and that great business and brand stories are the result of an arcane creative process that only comms-types are privy to.
It’s a nonsense. The truth is, the communications industry is seriously under-performing, and storytelling is not the solution. Read more …
At almost every conference I attend, in almost every conversation I have with innovative digital, media or communication thinkers, I hear echoes of one of my heroes, Marshall McLuhan.
I’ll be referring to a very ‘McLuhanesque’ concept of mine (media literacy) in an upcoming post on the three strategic management competencies for the Chief Communications Officer of the 21st century, shortly. So, I thought I’d share this post with you on the off-chance you aren’t very familiar with him.
No doubt you’ve heard the phrase the ‘global village’, and know and understand the meaning of ‘the medium is the message’ (Sure? Nice podcast, that) but you may be surprised to discover the depth and breadth of his work.
McLuhan’s thoughts covered not only tactical effects of ‘electronic media’, such as the dominance of the image over text way before it was technically feasible, but also observed that:
“The medium, or process of our time – electric technology – is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life. It is forcing us to reconsider and re-evaluate practically every thought, every action, and every institution formerly taken for granted. Everything is changing – you, your family, your neighbourhood, your education, your job, your government, your relation to ‘the others’. And they’re changing dramatically.”
He also summed up my mum’s worries (and probably yours as well) about Facebook when he said: Read more …
I’m looking to clear a little ground before I sow some deeper seeds. Articulating why stories are so important in business often appears to be difficult. Which is remarkable considering all the hype on storytelling, right?
I want to make the distinction between story and communication a little clearer. And outline the business value of stories. Down below is a write-up drawn from the introduction of a workshop on story and communication I recently gave.
We can communicate in many different ways. We don’t necessarily need to tell a story to say, ‘You did a fantastic job!’, ‘Wow, I love working with you!’, ‘You’re late for work,’ or ‘Your bonus this month is a gazillion Euros.’
However, when we need to persuade, when we need to move people away from one way of doing things towards another, stories are the way to go.
Why? Well, as HBR pointed out some time ago, persuasion is the centerpiece of business activity. It goes for employees, organisations, brands and consumers. Telling stories is by far the most effective way to ‘persuade’.
So, in good old top-down style, I’ve taken a swoop through some essential truths on stories Read more …
While at EuroComm this year I grabbed 5 minutes with one of our most provocative speakers, Christian Bluemelhuber, Professor for Communication at the University of Arts in Berlin.
In the quick interview below I asked him about his presentation on his wonderfully different marketing and communication model for brands.
Although I haven’t yet had a chance to speak further with him, based on what I heard, this sounds to me like an incredibly apposite model for redefining brand marketing and communication as we head towards web 3.0.
Check out the video below, then let’s unpack it a little.
This time the consumer will lead
By privileging the consumer response to our brand media, by experimenting, and at the same time offering stability, Christian believes that Read more …