LOTS OF RULES are being broken these days - and you don't have to look any further than the headlines to see the evidence. In the field of storytelling, rules are always being broken. But we're here to say: it's all good, even if the language feels different.
Case in point: people once believed any effort to tell an organization's story had to have at least a token "hard sell" component -- or it was a waste of effort and advertising dollars. If you were selling cars, for example, you needed to place images of cars in the ad. And, you had to ask people to buy them. This doctrine (sort of) made sense, back in the days when communicating your story required large investments of time and money.
Well, guess what? In today's world, where we're all bombarded with nonstop selling, positioning, and spin, there are new rules. And we're increasingly learning that often, the best message is one that is simply real. (Often, you'll hear the word "authentic" used to describe this). Now, I could do a deep dive and attempt to explain this phenomena with fancy philosophical terms like post-modernism and existentialism -- but that would probably put you off, right?
See what I mean? If you're reading this, you just want me to get to the point.
I submit that the most-sought-after quality today isn't necessarily wealth, status, or fame. It's a desire for real relationships. We want them with our elected leaders and the companies we do business with. We want them at home and with our friends. Just stop the baloney. And that's why storytelling for your organization can be (and actually should be) "off message" if it's speaking the truth and demonstrating the real character of you, your organization, your employees and their hearts.
With this understanding, stories can really get out of the box. They are all good. Let's take a simple hypothetical case: your organization sets aside time for employees to "take a child to work day." Why not do a story about it and share with your clients? It actually says a lot about a lot about your company and its values. Who cares if it totally omits your product or service? After all, it's a story about one of your employees and it's on your web site/blog/newsletter/Facebook. That's plenty of connection.
Now, I'm not knocking traditional ads - they have their place, and also benefit from real storytelling. Nor am I saying that you should not blog or post about traditional topics for your organization. I also am not endorsing the "any publicity is good publicity" theory.
Far from it.
I'm merely saying the doors are open to other kinds of stories, and that today's much more accessible self-publishing options empower organizations to tell a rich variety of true stories in many formats and platforms. In turn, those stories demonstrate the core values of your organization in all the new forms of media.
Got an idea? Hit us with it.
PS - No disrespect to philosophy majors. I actually enjoy those discussions - maybe a future post?