Professionalising story telling

As the opportunities to engage customers and other stakeholders with powerful and emotionally engaging visual content continues to proliferate it is interesting to see how companies are going about building this capability. It is not historically a core skill of PR/communications and yet, in this deficit attention world, the ability to capture people’s attention is imperative.

Back in October 2016 PR Week reported that United Airlines (in the US) had hired a Chief Storyteller and MD of Digital Engagement. The individual concerned, Dana Brooks Reinglass, had a background in TV production, including producing and managing programmes for Oprah Winfrey. This desire to harness the creative production skills of TV producers is a reasonably new development (certainly in-house), and there are also examples in the UK. The skills they bring - an understanding of scheduling and narrative hooks that keep people’s attention is priceless and not one that is easily found in an in-house communications team. 

But what is also changing is the interest amongst those in broadcast production to transfer their skills – those of engaging and keeping an audience – into a corporate setting. We recently interviewed a TV Producer (BBC, Sky, Discovery, CH4) who has extensive experience of both creating watchable, compelling content and is keen to use her experience in an in-house setting. Her understanding of scheduling and narrative hooks that keep people’s attention is priceless and not one that is often found in an in-house communications team (many PR consultancies now have specialist creatives but most of these have come from a creative agency of one sort or another). She knows how to distribute content to find stakeholders but also how to bring stakeholders to content.

Since hiring an ex TV producer is not a cheap option, any organisation considering it would have to be generating a constant stream of content. But if the volume is there, there is a good case to be made for hiring the specialist skills, honed in the most demanding of environments, to ensure it gets seen and is eminently watchable. 

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