It was a dark and stormy night….
A perfect way to start a story about storytellers. Not just any storytellers. But six storytellers or storytelling resources that PR and communication pros should know about.
That is, if you’re serious about storytelling to improve your communication from blogging, content marketing and internal communication to presentations, interviews, training and even investor relations.
Storytelling has a critical role to play in every communication. And a great story usually contributes strongly to PR and business success.
This is my second in an ongoing series of “All-star” posts featuring experts of interest to public relations people. My first post profiled six crisis PR experts.
The Start of the PR Story
Let’s start at the beginning shall we? Before we get to the middle and the end of this story.
What makes a great story? That’s a riddle storytellers face when they sit down to write. Of course the best way to learn how to write a great story is to read great stories. Let’s hope that if you’re in PR, you’re very much a reader.
Next step is to write stories. Lots of them in every form. That’s the beauty of public relations. We get paid to write. And, if we’re very good, we get paid very well to write. Whether it’s speeches for the president or CEO. Scripts that sizzle. A feature for a business publication or blog. Or any number of social media stories.
I have six storytellers or storytelling resources I strongly recommend you follow. They’ll help you answer that question – what makes a great story? They’re go-to people when you’re looking for storytelling idea or tips. And they each approach it from slightly different angles as storytellers, curators and resources.
So, what makes a great story? I’ll share three favorite quotes from Storytelling Quotes to get the story started:
“Great stories happen to those who tell them.” ~Ira Glass
“The storyteller serves the story. The fool serves the moment. The shaman serves the tribe.” ~Tony Allen, Afro-beat Drummer
“Australian aborigines say that the big stories – the stories worth telling and retelling, the ones in which you may find the meaning in your life – are forever stalking the right teller, sniffing and tracking like predators hunting their prey in the bush.” ~Robert Moss, Author, Dreamgates
Best Storytellers & Storytelling Resources
So, who are these storytelling all-stars?
Lou Hoffman tells business stories. He’s CEO of a successful global technology PR agency with a difference. His agency’s success is built partly on storytelling for clients around the world. If you’re interested in what makes good stories in business, read his blog. Lots of good stories and business storytelling examples. His posts cover social media too. Last year, Hoffman produced a smart infographic highlighting the differences between great stories and poor corporate communication. It’s worth reading as a reminder.
Favorite storytelling quote: “David wins all the time” ~Malcom Gladwell
Hoffman explains it comes from a Malcolm Gladwell essay in The New Yorker. “It’s a twist on a twist in the sense that everyone enjoys the seemingly contrarian “David beats Goliath” story. But this Gladwell piece makes the case that the “Davids” of the world, in spite of lopsided odds, find a way to win more often than you think. Great storytelling delivers the unexpected which Gladwell achieves by turning conventional thinking upside-down.”
Favorite Storytellers: Gregg Morris, Jeff Gordinier, The New York Times Dining Section
Blog: Ishmael’s Corner
Favorite personal post: Open Letter To Toyota Customers Hits Pothole,
Recent posts: Storytelling vs Corporate-Speak, “Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics” Leave Room for Interpretative Storytelling, Pitch Shaped by Storytelling Techniques Opens Door at Major Business Publication Leave Room for Interpretative Storytelling
Company Website: The Hoffman Agency
If you wanted to find one of the top storytelling curators, look no further than Karen Dietz. Her storytelling curation posts on Scoop.it are a must-read. She doesn’t just link to a story. Dietz reads, analyzes and offers an opinion on her storytelling discoveries. In five minutes, you’ll get 15 ideas. Her website features a list of business Storytelling Resources with how-tos and tips in booklets she offers free.
Favorite storytelling quote: “Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives — the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change — truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts.” ~Salman Rushdie, author
Favorite Storytellers: Limor Shiponi, Susan O’Halloran
Blog: Just Story It (on Scoop.it); newsletter
Favorite personal post: Trends in Business Storytelling
Recent posts: The Ripening of the Olive: A New Metaphor for Responsible Capitalism; Slash Coleman: Insights on Telling Your Story, What Story Are You Telling Yourself?
Website: Just Story It
On his website, Gregg Morris has a great quote about storytelling by Samuel Goldwyn: “We want a story that starts out with an earthquake and works its way up to a climax.” What a great starting point when you’re sitting down to write a story. Morris has a knack for finding inspiring stories and drawing out the genius of the storytelling from within each. On his website, he’s thoughtfully gathered a long list of superb Story Resources. This is one of the finest storytelling collections you’ll find. Over on Scoop.it, he curates a growing collection of the internet’s best storytelling sources. Worth checking daily.
Favorite storytelling quote: “Why was Solomon recognized as the wisest man in the world? Because he knew more stories (proverbs) than anyone else. Scratch the surface in a typical boardroom and we’re all just cavemen with briefcases, hungry for a wise person to tell us stories.” ~Alan Kay, Vice President Walt Disney
Favorite storyteller: Lou Hoffman
Blog: Story and Narrative (on Scoop.it)
Favorite personal post: Brand Storytelling and Customer Persona
Recent posts: Storytelling and Connecting Through Sound, Rediscovering The Art of Storytelling, How to Tell a Story: 10 Simple Strategies
Website: What’s Your Story?
Kathy Hansen is another superb curator. Her website includes six valuable storytelling lists: Twitter follows, events, story wisdom, writings, storytellers and a running list of 100+ story practitioners. One must-read is her free ebook A Storied Career where 40 storytellers talk about storytelling. Another resource worth following is her curation blog on Scoop.it. She adds story resources daily.
Favorite storytelling quote: “A great brand story is a story that’s never completely told. Stories create the emotional context people need to locate themselves in a larger experience.” ~Scot Bedbury
Favorite storyteller: Lou Hoffman (interview w Kathy)
Blogs: A Storied Career, Organizational Storytelling (on Scoop.it)
Favorite personal post: Favorite 2011 Story Finds — From A to Z
Recent posts: Job-Search Storytelling Evolves, with Some Twists, If Ever There Was a Time for Women’s Stories to be Told, This Is It, 3 Storytelling Platforms/Projects Focus on the Big Apple, Doug Rice Launches #StoryChat on Twitter
Website: A Storied Career
Book: Tell Me MORE About Yourself
Michael Margolis is a business storyteller and advisor to organizations on how to get others to believe in their story. Download his free ebook Believe Me. It will convince you of the value of storytelling in business. Margolis’ blog covers brand storytelling, culture, social media, change, personal branding and Story 2.0. And he keeps a fun list of Storytelling Quotes in case you need further inspiration.
Favorite Quote: choose one from dozens at Storytelling Quotes but this was fun:
“Stotytelling: the world’s second oldest profession.” ~Danny Harris
Blog: Get Storied
Recent posts: Cultural MythMaking: How Story Marketing Really Works, Culture Hacking: The Future of Organizational Storytelling, Brand Storytelling 101
Book: Believe Me*: A storytelling manifesto for change-makers and innovators
Websites: Get Storied, Storytelling Quotes
I never get tired of citing Harvard’s Nieman Foundation resources for inspiration. The Storyboard’s “Why’s This So Good” series has nearly 60 wonderful stories by reporters from dailies, weeklies, magazines and more. The narratives run the journalism gamut. Each story gets background from the writer which adds insight into the story and the craft of writing. Other resources include Notable Narratives and Essays on Craft.
Website: Nieman Storyboard
Recent posts: Writing 9/11: Erin Sullivan on survivors, intros, collaboration, inspiration and the importance of working with what you have, “Why’s this so good?” No. 58: Scott Anderson and the hunger warriors, “Why’s this so good?” No. 57: Joan Didion on dreamers gone astray,
Other Storytelling Resources Worth Noting
LinkedIn storytelling groups:
Transmedia Storytelling (1310 members), Organizational Storytelling (976), Corporate Story Telling (958), Storytelling for Business (748), Story Thinking and Story Telling (681), Business Storytelling & Brand Development (324)
I hope you’ve enjoyed these storytelling resources. If you have other favorite storytellers you’d like to share, just tell us about them in comments below.
Author: Jeff Domansky