‘No f***head, you are not a storyteller’

If you’re running an advertising campaign, especially online, you need a storyteller to take your message and tell it in a way that compels people to engage with it.

There is a simple test to know whether you are working with someone who is a storyteller. Just answer this question: do they tell stories in any conventional sense of the word? No? Then they’re not a storyteller.

Blog article over. Thanks for reading. JUST KIDDING!

What a storyteller is may seem obvious, but it is a buzzword that is liberally, and incorrectly used all too often. Across nearly every industry there are folks who use the word to describe what makes them uniquely qualified to do the job they do.

The practice is especially prevalent, in my experience, among my colleagues in the marketing and public relations space. As an actual storyteller, who before launching Five Seasons Media, spent more than a decade perfecting the art of disseminating information in a memorable way as an on-air journalist, I can assure you the vast majority of folks calling themselves storytellers are not.

Several years ago, a collaborator of mine, a TV photographer and actual storyteller, shared with me this video. In short, it features Stefan Sagmeister, who is also an actual storyteller. In the video, Sagmeister explains his own frustrations with people calling themselves storytellers who, while may be talented at their respective professions, are still not. At one point he discusses a roller coaster designer who allegedly referred to themselves as a, you guessed it, storyteller. Sagmeister’s response: “No F***head. You are not a storyteller. You’re a roller coaster designer.”

When most scroll through their Facebook, TikTok, or Instagram feeds and see an advertisement, they move on to the next piece of content. There’s a reason for that: In 2020, people don’t watch ads that feel like ads. People are busy and have chosen to use their spare time to engage on social media to connect with friends, family, and compelling content.

The challenge for social media marketers and public relations experts is creating content, like an ad, people want to interact with. Despite this, most ads you’ll see on your favorite social media platforms have a low level of engagement. At Five Seasons Media, we think among the largest reasons for this is because there is no storytelling involved. Bottom line, when there is no story, people have no reason to engage. Our philosophy, which we think every marketer should embrace, is to not “create an ad. Tell a story.”    

There is one positive sign from my perspective of folks erroneously using the word storyteller – it proves there is immense value in being one and should you plan to step up your social media or public relations game you need one.

This blog article was written by Five Seasons Media’s Chief Creative Officer, Josh Scheinblum. For questions about how Five Seasons Media can help your organization, please contact Josh via email at Josh@5SeasonsMedia.com.

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