Lopez, what’s your story?

Several years ago, the Chief Marketing Officer for a large software company in Redmond, WA called me in a panic. Her company’s reputation was in a tailspin. Her marketing materials were full of technical jargon. And, if customers told stories about her company over social media, they’d talk about the last time their computer crashed. The root of the problem? Her organization didn’t know how to tell stories. She asked me to create a storytelling curriculum for her marketing department.

The crisis that CMO faced is not unique. People who run organizations, big and small, get caught up in the business of running their business – creating and delivering products or services, managing a workforce, keeping the lights on – all very important and rational things. What they can lose sight of are the emotional criteria on which people – employees, customers, and partners – base their decisions. That’s why storytelling is such a critical skill for any organization to have.

Never has storytelling been more important (and more pervasive) than in the digital age. Today, anybody with an Internet connection is a member of the media. Reputations of the most powerful people and organizations can be made or destroyed in minutes. The whole world might as well be as small as Lopez Island. From a digital perspective, it is.

Keeping up with the latest digital platforms can seem daunting. Every day there’s a new social media platform that we’re being told we must be on. Communications media come and go. What remains constant is the importance of telling a good story. None of these platforms are effective unless they carry a compelling message that resonates with an audience and delivers a clear call-to-action. When you have a good story, people will retell it.

With this as context, I will be leading a workshop from 1:00 – 4:30 PM on May 3rd (rescheduled from April 19th) at the Lopez Library: Interactive Storytelling in the Digital Age. In addition to showing examples of good (and bad) storytelling, the workshop gives participants a framework they can use to create and tell their own stories. And, because we do live in a digital age, we’ll talk about how to make those stories easily shareable via social media. Many of the story examples used will be stories I’ve collected from the people on Lopez Island for Project 468. I hope to see you at the Library on the 3rd. What’s your story?

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