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storytelling

Alumni Posts

Storytelling

by Alumni Posts on September 14, 2011

in Academics,After College

When I think about my future profession, Advertising, I get caught up in thinking about the important skills that help the really successful advertisers do well. And then, I get really distracted, because I honestly can’t shake the feeling that everyone else needs these same skills.

Some people think advertising is about making pretty pictures and mini-movies to make stuff look good. This isn’t true. There’s so much more to advertising than the print ad and the commercial; there are so many clever little tactics advertisers come up with to get your attention. And even then, so much of that is garbage; if it were any good, you’d be buying so much more.

Some people think advertising is about selling product. Well, that’s sometimes true; it’s an important goal, and arguably anything else advertising might aim to do – increase brand awareness, reinforce loyalty, and so on – is done with the hopes that eventually it turns into more sales. But what makes GOOD advertising is more than just sales.

Good advertising lies in the art of storytelling. The brands, campaigns, and commercials we love tell a story that produces some kind of emotion in us. People like stories, and these stories are what makes us buy. We’re far more emotional than rational; a story, a good story, that taps into our emotions – humor, sadness, excitement – is what motivates us to interact with a brand. It’s what gets us to talk about the brand, and that’s when it really grows.

But good storytelling seems like it should be really important for any field that deals with humans (which, arguably, is just about every field since everything we do is in terms of humans as far as I know). Why do scientific fields suck at explaining things in humanistic terms? Even now when I read articles for sociology, most of them are burdensome, trying to mimic the tone of the detached scientist. Why bother? The sociology articles I end up loving, the ones that inspire me and cause me to see the world in a new way (and the ones I understand on the first read through!) are the personal narratives, because they’re told as stories.

We like stories. Storytelling is important. It’s an art, one few people poses. You’d do well to practice and master it.

Here’s a challenge for you: try telling a story on your next writing assignment instead of spitting back garble. Instead of writing something that alienates both yourself and your reader, connect on a human level by telling it as you would tell a story. Good luck.

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