By Yakesha Cooper, Associate Account Executive
As of late, storytelling has been a central theme to a marketing communications strategy. At every turn, organizations are noting how important narrative is to the core of their business. Sharing your organization’s story is certainly a noble pursuit, one that we encourage at Environics. But, to create powerful narrative—to give it the fullness of integrity that makes any good story believable—your strategy team driving the process must possess the mighty power of the pen.
Historically, writing was seen as an elitist craft reserved for only the upper echelon of intellectual thinkers. As an example let’s go back in antiquity for a moment. Plato, Socrates and Homer were all skillful at synthesizing the climate of their respective cultures and sharing their understanding with the broader world through the art of writing. While we may not agree with their analysis on life, culture, science and the arts; their carefully constructed wordsmithing is undeniable. Who can forget Homer’s classic line in The Iliad, “We men are wretched things…”? It’s a simple sentence, yet is impactful because anyone with a heartbeat knows humans can, in fact, be wretched. Good writing does this: It takes the emotions of the collective human experience and brings those things to life on paper, or on television, or in a song. And when we encounter the beautiful knitting of a string of words that make a story we find ourselves at home.
I’d say this is what every organization and marketing communications strategy wants of its consumers: to feel at home with their products, services and mission. To achieve that level of connection the story has to resonate and that happens, in large part, through skillful writing. The careful construction of a thoughtful story is not only compelling, but also persuasive. It builds trust.
Think of any good story you’ve heard or read. What were some of the things that drew you in? No doubt it was the emotion invoked, but it was also the composition of the story. It was how each sentence triggered something for you. A memory. A feeling. Nostalgia, perhaps. Whatever it was, you would not have gotten there if the story was not comprised of the right makings. It’s like eating your favorite dish. It doesn’t taste good when the fundamental ingredients aren’t there. Writing is a necessary ingredient to good storytelling. And strong writers are the chefs.
So why have we moved away from the art of writing?
Consider this: It’s no secret digital media has changed the way we consume content. Everything from iTunes to news outlets exist online. The common assumption made is that digital consumption does not demand the same amount of attention as does a good book, or an essay in your favorite publication (avid lover of the New Yorker, here). As such, we falsely believed that because people are not spending the same amount of time digesting stories they no longer care about the end-quality. This thinking has resulted in a shift from investing the proper amount of time and skill into thoughtful writing to producing “click bait.”
It’s true; people’s attention spans have gotten shorter. Nonetheless, the desire for quality content remains and is critical to your marketing communications strategy. This means as communicators, business owners and organization leaders we still have a responsibility to write our stories skillfully and authentically. If this expectation requires deploying the right people to do so, that is an investment worth making. Anything less stifles creditability and runs the risk of losing the very people, who upon discovering our narrative could have found their way home.