1. Each hero journey has a tension arc
Well-made stories are told from the hero's perspective. Most of the time they follow the course of a hero's journey. Very important here: They are told from the perspective of the hero, not from the perspective of the company. Ego postings have no place in it. Because the hero is usually the customer. The beginning is essential because we ask ourselves: does this have anything to do with me? If the answer is “yes” and the whole thing is relevant to us, we continue to listen. If it doesn't matter to us, our brains simply switch off.
People love heroes above all when they pursue a noble goal and grow beyond themselves. The narrative of a so-called heroic journey follows. This leads to a glorious end along a stress curve from a suboptimal initial range over obstacles and blockages, errors and confusion or agony and near-collapses.
CompanyProducts and employees act as accomplices, as loyal companions or useful spirits, who remain in the background but without whom the transformation does not succeed. And like in a good movie, the conflict is over. The solution then comes suddenly and quickly. Above all, good storytelling does not make your own company, but the customer's hero.
2. How a hero's journey is structured
When building up, you can orient yourself to fairy tales. They have the following pattern:
- What was the beginning (= the problem, the doubt)?
- Who (= the hero) did (= the good deed) with whose help (= the good fairy)?
- Where lurking dangers (= the adventure, the obstacle, the opponent)?
- How was the whole thing going (= the victory, the happy ending)?
The basic model of a typical heroic journey, developed by the American mythologist Joseph Campbell, comprises twelve stages in two acts:
- The first act: the old world. A situation that is suboptimal. The idea that there is something better out there. Cross-hatchers are trying to prevent the break-up. Encounters with a mentor who makes courage and shows ways. Crossing the threshold to new territory.
- The second act: the new world. Examinations, opponents and allies appear. The day of the showdown is approaching. The decisive battle takes place. Victory is won. The return journey will be made. The transformation shows first fruits. The goal is reached.
3. Story telling in digital times
Modern stories are now told transmedially, that is across different media. Listeners and viewers are no longer restricted to the function of the passive consumer, but they can actively and creatively contribute: by helping to shape the progress of a story, to obtain the offered background material, or to comment and to vote at least.
Let the fans go a whole story on their own. In some cases, this even happens automatically. Thousands of fans, for example, did not want to accept the Harry Potter series coming to an end. On pottermore, they are now developing the story further variegated.
"If advertising and PR succeed in getting the target group excited about a transmedia story, this is rewarded by an increased length of stay, greater loyalty to the brand and a higher recommendation rate," writes Petra Sammer in her book Storytelling. Narrative images and video clips play an increasingly important role in this context. In this case we speak of visual storytelling.
4. Preparing stories for the media
The selected stories must be prepared for the media: the long version of the story is told on the company's own website. On Facebook is it shortened or divided into bites. On Instagram she is richly garnished with pictures. And as a moving image on YouTube and Co., for example, it comes across like a fast-paced thriller.
After all, depending on the target group, different facets of a story should be emphasized: The buyer of a machine needs a different story than the production manager. A bachelor is interested in other details than a proud family man. And a connoisseur is fascinated by other subtleties than a newcomer. Personas can be very helpful when building.
No matter how you knit your stories, they always have two objectives: an internal, so the employees, and an external, ie prospective customers, customers, partners, suppliers, banks, investors, applicants, multipliers, the public.
Internally, examples and anecdotes can be used in a targeted manner to illustrate how corporate philoso- phy is to be lived concretely. Tell, for example, how a clever employee idea proved itself in practice and what the customers had of it.
Report the milestones to a big win over the fiercest competitor. Or celebrate a successful (digital) project in all its facets. Develop correct series of stories with “To be continued”. Or tell a story from the perspective of different protagonists. And: Feed the media with stories instead of money.
6. Where stories can be placed - externally and internally
Use all existing means of communication and touchpoints to place stories there (instead of boring facts). I also recommend putting a customer-related success story at the beginning of every meeting. Under the heading “The customer speaks”, this is given the best place: agenda item number one on the agenda. In turn, one participant reports on a customer enthusiasm story that the company has produced.
We should be dealing with We-Stories, that is, with those in which several areas were involved. This promotes the spirit of the community and the feeling of being in us. It is also about finding the secret customers' enthusiasm of the company, the gloom, which the bright light of the public does not like. They often have the best stories available.
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