David Bowen, I’m sure you’re doing a great job. You seem a serious, thoughtful professional. Nevertheless, your clients and your peers have been trespassing my and my peers’ domain for over three years now. You have the power of ‘hefty editorial budgets’, mega-brands, workforce and distribution. We don’t.
We never intended to, because storytelling has never been about owning the storytelling threefold equilibrium – listener, story, teller. Your work is about creativity – so is ours – the difference is in what the equilibrium is connected to. Yours is eventually – corporate communications. Can you guess what we are looking at as the main reason for perusing our art?
If you ever get to read this post, you might think “what does she want?” I want you to help stop using the word ‘storytelling’ as a synonym to content marketing, MarCom or just solid good corporate communications which seems to be what you are really involved in. Using ‘story’ is fine – although many current applications of this word are abusing its meaning, but using ‘storytelling’? definitely not.
There are several reasons for making such a request:
What you are doing isn’t storytelling, so why use the wrong word? storytelling isn’t a concept or a framework, it’s not that everything goes if you just find a way to reframe it. If it would be only about living in self-deception, I wouldn’t mind. The problem is that all that tech, the big names and resource power facilitating what you call storytelling, are placing many storytellers under the label “traditional” – and not in a respectful way. We are not in the same profession, we’re not your predecessors or competitors. By putting us into the same context, you’re suggesting something wrong which is doing us wrong.
You’re covering storytelling with noise storytellers can’t break through. We’re too small on the web. That means that some storytellers, dependant on the web for marketing their work, are losing business. Considering the miniature size of a storytelling dependant family income, you can guess what that means.
There are several more reasons I could list here, but I’ll jump to the most profound – you can go very wrong these days if you talk about storytelling.
“A site people can’t keep away from”
“We need to expand websites”
“Monitor Journey stories’ popularity like a hawk”
Partner these few quotations with ‘Why storytelling is the ultimate weapon’ (Jonathan Gottschall) and other opportunistic publications and what does it read like to you?
I’m sure you don’t like the re-frame of your quotations. I don’t like the consequences of the above messages – not for real storytellers and certainly not for the soul of humanity.
Some people reading this might think, “she’s telling him it works! why stop?!”
I’ll spell it out anyway – if you’re idea for a great future for your kids includes heavy consumption of technology based branded communications and thrills, where person-to-person storytelling exchanges will seem pale next to a talking robot and they will prefer to touch a screen instead of their kids – you are in the right direction, proceed. I’m not sure you can have kids with a Cola, but who knows? maybe I’m not innovative enough.
Mr. Bowen, please consider, you are in the position to help. From reading your words I reckon you know very well ‘storytelling’ can stay out of corporate communications, content marketing and all the rest, with no damage to the effectiveness of your work whatsoever.