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Three tips to help you master storytelling worthy of an Oscar


The 2017 award season is in full swing. The Oscar nominations have just been announced, and speculation is mounting in the wake of the Golden Globes and BAFTAs, which saw a record breaking number of awards go to La La Land. The hype surrounding the love letter to classic Hollywood demonstrates the enduring fascination with storytelling. Meanwhile the UK entertainment industry is forecast to be worth £68.2 billion by 2020, becoming the largest market in EMEA. The business of storytelling is arguably stronger than ever.

As a nation of story lovers, it is little surprise that storytelling is a big buzzword in communications. A strong and memorable corporate story can be a powerful tool to engage audiences ranging from customers and the media, to policymakers and employees. But a story told badly in business can go down just as gravely as a poorly executed film, resulting in rotten tomatoes rather than industry accolades.    

Here are three tips to help you master storytelling worthy of an Oscar:

  1. Your brand is not the hero

All stories have a hero, but choose the wrong one and you’ll end up with an audience that can’t relate to the hero’s challenge making them feel disengaged and unsympathetic. It seems logical for your business to play the central protagonist in your corporate narrative, but your brand is not the hero. Storytelling is not really about you, it’s about what you help your audience achieve. The most successful movies are those which enable the audience to relate to the hero, even feel like they are the hero. Make your audience the hero of your story.

  1. Shared purpose

Powerful stories often feature a shared purpose that evokes strong emotions in an audience, inviting them on a journey to accomplish a mission together. Take La La Land as an example. Struggling actress and jazz musician, Mia and Seb, embark on a pursuit to follow their dreams, whilst struggling to overcome the temptation to take the easy option and sell-out or quit. Their mission evokes powerful feelings of empathy in the audience to stay true to yourself in order to make your dreams a reality. The same rule applies to your audience when telling your corporate story. It’s not enough for them to feel good about your purpose; they want it to be their purpose too. Rather than creating a narrative for your audience, it should be made with them. Purpose needs to be shared.

  1. Authenticity

Some of the worst films in history are the ludicrously far-fetched horror movies, or sickly sweet chick flicks with an unbelievable ending. Stories that move us are authentic and believable, irrespective of context. A corporate narrative should not be a strict, inflexible script dictated from the leadership team and cascaded down the ranks. It must be flexible and open for adaptation. Like any good story, we all know the plot, but we each have different ways of telling the tale. We emphasise different aspects and draw on personal anecdotes. Think of your corporate narrative like a plot, which is then retold by your audience. Trusting others to tell your story will make it authentic and believable. This is why a corporate narrative must be short, simple and memorable – so that, like all the best stories, it can be easily retold for years to come.

The entertainment industry has expanded far beyond the walls of the cinema, with the rapid rise of virtual reality, immersive video games and interactive cinema. But regardless of the platform, the old rules of good storytelling remain the same. So no matter if you are sharing you corporate story on digital media, traditional PR or old fashioned face-to-face communication, these three golden rules will help you craft stories that will win over your audience, and with any luck they might just snag you an award win too. 


This post originally appeared on the PRCA website: