How To Master Story
STORY is certainly central to modern marketing. That's a good thing. Not everyone is an expert but it’s certainly a skill that can be taught and honed over time. We can all study giants like Aristotle, Robert McKee, or Shonda Rhimes (pictured herein). In pure marketing terms, you may also want to peruse Gary Vaynerchuk’s musings. Access to great teachers and their teachings is at an all-time high. And, yes, video is the most powerful form of storytelling. Period.
All that said, you may not have time to learn the art & science of storytelling if a campaign is upon you. So, aim to find someone to tell your stories who has done it successfully and authentically for years. Yes, past results in similar (but not exact) industries will generally ensure success. My next bit of advice is to LEARN from those you pay on the first few go rounds. Fearlessly engage with them in the writing/development process, dive into the production planning to get a sense of logistics and casting, attend the shoots to see how it all flows, and engage in the editorial process, where shot selection, editing, music and titles sharpen your story. That’s where the magic (okay, art & science) happens!
Make sure your for-hire filmmaker/video team is strong, experienced, and – perhaps most of all – transparent about the process. That way, if you want – and have the time and/or the team – you can learn to do it (story) for yourself. Or you can build out your story in other media to complement it or help it to continue to unfold.
All that said, in the first few rounds you do need to trust your storytellers to lead the way. All stories are slightly different and they must be left to find the organic threads and rhythms. (See Rick Rubin, famed music producer, on this “touchy-feely” front too.) But keep engaging and learning.
Yes, I practice what I preach and create, and also to teach, along the way. You can and should learn by doing from your storytellers. And, one day you'll become a master. Even if you choose not to master storytelling, in a hands-on fashion, you will become more fluid in how it is created. That's good for all.