By Sophie Hodgson – I love stories. Absolutely love them. Whether they’re the ones my dad wrote for me when I was a little kid, the smell of a brand new book, a poem that brings a tear to my eye or an amazing film; I’m a total sucker for a good story. That’s why I am so excited about National Storytelling Week, which kicked off on Saturday.
Now that I have a two-year-old daughter, I have fallen in love with storytelling all over again. Its ability to inspire Bella’s imagination and the games she creates reaffirms just why storytelling is an art form. And no one will ever be able to persuade me otherwise.
OK, authors might not be as lauded as movie stars (there are of course exceptions), but their following is just as feverish. No, feverish is not the right word. A good storyteller doesn’t have fans, they have followers. For example, in our house we have every single one of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels that has been written (well, not the latest because it’s not yet in paperback, we have nappies to pay for don’t you know!). Why? Because we like the character, we want to find out more about his adventures. And so, every time the latest book comes out, the count down to it being available in paperback begins.
This commitment isn’t just applied to Lee Child. Stuart MacBride also features heavily on our bookshelf. My point is that great stories draw you in. You find yourself at the centre of them, imagining the world in which they live, from exactly what they look like through to the place where they live. Or don’t live, in the case of Jack Reacher. I won’t note here the expletives that came from my husband’s mouth when he learned that Tom Cruise was to play him in the movies.
And that is exactly what good engagement is all about. If a company is providing interesting content in different formats that is relatable, when they seek to engage, you’ll want to interact. Companies need to think about the narrative that sits at the heart of their communications. In a world where we share a story on our Facebook page or favourite a tweet before moving on to the next thing, storytelling has the power to make people stop, think, and actually – properly – engage.
There is a lot to be said for storytelling. I only hope that the work we do with our clients has the same effect on their audiences as Peter Rabbit does on my daughter.