Storytelling – A History & What I Learnt About It

Storytelling – A History & What I Learnt About It

Photo by Lady Escabia from Pexels

What I learnt this week was that to write good content, we have to learn and understand the history of storytelling and that there is a method to good storytelling. Like the “Inverted Pyramid Writing”.

Of course I knew that humans have been telling stories since ancient times, but I think we rarely think about that in our daily lives.
Even printing books is fairly knew if you think about how long humanity exists.

1450 Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press and made books widely available for the common people.

And as mentioned this week, now we have radio, movies and the world wide web with which we can share our stories.

All that happened in the last 100 years. I think sometimes it is hard for us humans to catch up with all of that. Especially with social media and how fast it develops and changes.

Like I mentioned earlier, I had never heard of the “Inverted Pyramid Writing” before.

Algonquin College – Digital Communication Course

But when I think about the many articles that I have read, then I can see that the writer used the Pyramid to create good content.
I will keep this in mind and try to do the same for my blog posts.

What did you learn about good storytelling and the history of it? Let me know in the comment section!

Honeymoon in Paris

Honeymoon in Paris

Now in the times of Covid-19, I think we all would love to go and take a vacation to our favorite place.
So, why not go down memory lane and think about the last vacation we had. Today, I will talk about mine. Paris, France in the summer of 2018!

Deciding where to go for our Honeymoon

My husband and I renewed our vows in my hometown Hanau in Germany in July 2018. I decided that I wanted to surprise him with a Honeymoon.
I planned the whole thing without him knowing and I also booked everything online.

The only thing I had asked him a few months earlier was, if he got the chance to see either Rome or Paris where he would rather go. He chose Paris. And that’s when I started planning everything.

Arriving in Paris

At the Gallery Lafayette


We were staying in Paris for 6 days. I thought this would give us plenty of time to see “everything” but I was so wrong! I think we just saw a small part of what we wanted to do.

I booked tickets to go to Paris for us by train on early Monday morning. We were in Paris (from Frankfurt) in as little over 4 hours. By about 1 pm we were in our little hotel in Montmartre (just a few meters away from the Moulin Rouge). Thinking back, I’m still glad that I booked a hotel with Air Condition because we would end up having at least 35 degrees every day during our stay.

Anyways, our first day was a very relaxing start in Paris and as I said earlier, I had planned everything. So, we had a clear idea of what we were going to do in the next few days.

The first day we walked to the Gallery Lafayette, not to shop but because I knew that you could see the whole city from the rooftop. The view was amazing!

To finish our first day off and to take in the city, I had arranged a tour with a Parisian 2CV Car. If you ever visit Paris, take the time to do a tour with one of those cars. It is amazing.

View from the little 2CV Car

Versailles, Catacombs, The Rodin Museum & Museum D’Orsay

In the next few days, we had planned many things. Our second day was completely booked off for the Palace of Versailles. Stunning. I highly recommend it. Especially the gardens.
We stayed there the whole day and we spent about 2-3 hours in the Palace and the rest of the time we spent wandering the gardens. I think I could have spent our hole trip just in Versailles. It is an amazing place.

Gardens of Versailles


Day three we went to the Museum D’Orsay, which is located in an old train station. It is a beautiful museum and I wished that we had more time. Great collection of french art.

The next stop was the Catacombs. I had heard about them a lot and I wanted to see them. The Parisian catacombs were modeled after the catacombs in Rome and go through the hole Paris underground. All the people that were killed during the French revolution are buried there (except Marie Antoinette and the King). Fascinating place. We kept talking about this place for the rest of the day.

Day 4 and 5 we went to the Rodin Museum, which has a great selection of Rodin’s most beautiful sculptures. Close by is Napoleons Tomb and Les Invalides, which is worth checking out as well.

And by accident, we stumbled upon the Luxembourg Gardens (close by is the Notre Dame which we were lucky to see before it burnt down).
But if you are in Paris, those Gardens are worth checking out. They are so beautiful. Take a look at the photo below.

Our second last day we spent at the Louvre. I think everyone knows that you need about a week in the Louvre and you still haven’t seen everything.
Beautiful art collection!

Last Day

Our last day we spent exploring Montmartre. We ended up regretting this because it was the favorite part of our trip. It is a wonderful part of the town and we hope to explore it more if we can come back.
The last thing we went to was the Sacre-Cour, down below you can see some photos from the top of the church and from Montmartre.


What was your favorite vacation? And do you have some favorite spots and tips and tricks? If so, let me know in the comment section.
Thank you for reading!

COM0014 – Blog 7: Personal Reflection

Between mid-May and early July 2020, I took a Digital Communication course at the Algonquin College. Here is my brief reflection on what I learnt in the course.

Stories make great content

There is a lot of information in the digital world. An average social media user is bombarded by thousands of various messages as soon as they go on any online platform. If you want your message and content to stand out, you need to tell powerful stories. You also need to do so in your unique and authentic voice.

Social media users are bombarded by information. Source: Hulu on Giphy.

Stories shape content into something that resonates with audiences. A story provides content with a natural flow, from a beginning to an end. In doing so, stories give digital content a form that most people are wired to follow.

Stories help you explain what makes your business or organization unique, and they do so in a compelling way.

Every story needs an audience

In crafting digital content, it is important to know who its audience is. In modern multicultural societies, audiences are bound to be culturally diverse. Therefore, it is important to understand the various groups within your target audiences and to ensure that your messages resonate with all of these groups.

In storytelling, it is important to know who your audience is. Source: GOV BALL NYC on Giphy.

When you know who exactly you are targeting with the content, it is much easier to decide what kind of stories you want to tell and how you want to tell them. Stories will guide your content.

My stories

Storytelling is already helping me in my job. I use stories to communicate important digital safety messages to audiences that are not likely to pay attention to information conveyed in a different way.

And what kind of stories are you telling? Does your audience find these stories compelling? Let me know in the comments below.

COM0014 – Blog 4: Books and Nooks

On a recent walk in the park in Kanata, ON where I live, I noticed a sticker on a bench. In black letters on a simple white background, the sticker read, “Support a local business. Shop at Books and Nooks.” The catchy name stuck in my mind and I soon found myself googling it.

Books and Nooks is small, family-owned company selling books, accessories and knick-knacks online.

Screenshot from the Books and Nooks website.

Books and Nooks on social media

The company has a great-looking and easy-to-navigate website. The website tells the story of Books and Nooks and features on online store. It is also home to the company’s blog, MishMash, offering tips and insights around everything related to reading, home decor and fashion.

Books and Nooks has an active presence on Facebook and Instagram. The company is using these platforms to build relationships with its customer base and to drive traffic to its website. To achieve this, Books and Nooks posts images related to reading, motivational quotes, links to new blogs, and stories about the products it is selling.

Screenshot of an image on Books and Nooks Facebook page, encouraging customers to buy from local businesses.

Interactions

The company also uses its social media presence to responds to questions and comments from customers. These interactions, however, appear to be scarce. Overall, Books and Nooks’ social media accounts do not seem to register much engagement.

Yet, the company’s interactions with customers that are visible on the platforms are timely and professional. Whoever runs these accounts responds to comments and questions in a courteous and helpful manner, thus helping to establish long-term relationships with customers.

I think that Books and Nooks has so far failed to capitalize on its social media presence. The company does publish content that some of its existing customer base may find interesting. However, its posts on both platforms generate few interactions and do not seem to help the company attract new customers.

Do you happen to know of any small, family-owned companies successfully using social media to promote their business? What makes these companies successful? Please let me know in the comments below.

COM0014 – Blog 3: The Audience I Am Trying to Reach

Digital technology is everywhere. It is permeating everything we do and shapes how we do it. In this context, it is important that everyone understands risks associated with digital technologies and has the skills to handle these risks.

Digital technology is everywhere. Source: Giphy

Digital safety project

I work for an Ottawa-based nonprofit that helps civil society organizations stay safe online. One of the particularly challenging projects that I am currently helping to get off the ground supports small civil society and independent media organizations in Kyrgyzstan, a small nation at the heart of Central Asia, by helping them understand and tackle digital risks.

The following is my attempt to define the audience for the project’s social media channels and describe some ways to reach this audience.

The younger urbanites

The project’s audience includes individuals working for or collaborating with small independent media organizations and civil society organizations in Kyrgyzstan.

These are mostly young people, between 20 and 35 years old, living in large cities. About two out of three individuals in this group are men. Most of these individuals are recent graduates from one of two Western-style universities in Kyrgyzstan, the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) and OSCE Academy in Bishkek. More than half of people in this group spent at least a year studying abroad, typically in the United States or United Kingdom.

The younger urbanites have grown up in the world
permeated by digital technology. Source: Giphy

These individuals come from middle-class families with mostly university-educated parents. At least eight out of 10 people in this group speak fluent Russian and more than half speak fluent English.

Reaching them

Most individuals within this audience have grown up in the world permeated by digital technology. They embrace digital technology and have a good understanding of risks stemming from their reliance on these technologies.

They embrace digital technology. Source: Giphy

The best social media platforms to reach this audience include Facebook and Instagram. Video and images are the two types of content best suited for this audience.

All educational content should assume a good level of familiarity with basic digital safety practices and aim at providing practical recommendations rather than abstract advice. One type of content that I expect to resonate particularly well with this audience is humorous content, specifically memes.

Do you know of any organization doing similar work around digital safety? Do you have any suggestions or tips on how to reach the audience I described? I will be happy to hear from you in the comments below.

COM0015 – Blog #1: The best stuff, and how I find it

As we’ve seen in our reading, there a ton of great ways to monitor what’s happening among online communities, and to track new content as it is shared with the world. For me, though, nothing holds a candle to the late, lamented Google Reader. It was easy to use, it was free, and it had a clean, simple interface that I found led to a great user experience.

Until I come across a monitoring tool that captures my heart and bandwidth the way that Google Reader did, my preferred approach is an ad-hoc one, using Instagram and Facebook searches.

Solid listening skills

I’m in control

There are two reasons that I prefer to do manual searches of mainstream sites like Instagram and Facebook for the purpose of social media monitoring. The first is that it gives me the illusion of control; I type in the keywords or hashtags I want to search, and I determine for myself if what comes up is relevant or not. Of course, I know that I’m still at the mercy of the platforms’ algorithms, and that I’m not seeing everything. Nonetheless, a part of me still feels that what I find through manual searches and analytics tracked on a spreadsheet will be more accurate.

The second reason is that, because these Instagram and Facebook are now so ubiquitous, they are considered “safe” by the IT group at my work. I am trying to explore tools like delicious.com and diigo.com, because they are new(er), they are still blocked by the firewalls that IT has set up; this means that if I come across something interesting while surfing at my desk, in order to save it to most social bookmarking sites, I would need to go to the “trouble” of finding that same content using the browser on my cell phone (thereby eating into my own data plan) and bookmarking it there.

Where’s the good stuff?

My two go-to sources of news and updates are Jezebel and CBC.

Jezebel is a prime spot for feminist commentary on cultural trends, from the trivial, like the latest Snapchat filter, to the revolutionary, like the #metoo movement. Jezebel is owned by the same company as Gizmodo (Gawker Media), and the two sites cross-publish from time to time. So when I make my regular visits to Jezebel for its take on news and culture, I am also often presented with tech articles from Gizmodo, where I can get more technical information about the tools supporting or driving the trends.

CBC is more closely tied to my organizational interests. Working for a government department, much of my time is spent preparing for and responding to news coverage. CBC, being a national news site, covers federal policies and spending very frequently, and I need to know what they’re saying about my department and Minister so that I can anticipate their reaction to upcoming issues, as well as the questions they are likely to have for us. CBC also has really interesting radio programs that talk about the place of tech in our culture, and about apps in development (e.g. Spark, Quirks and Quarks, Day 6), and through that I often learn about broader industry issues that will help my professional development.

Photo credit: paulsgraham.ca

A new listening tool? That sounds scary to me…

As I said, Facebook and Instagram, being such mainstream tools, are the ones which I am most comfortable. But I know that, in order to advance in the communications field, I need to change my social media habits. The New York Times published an interesting article related to this recently, Why Trying New Things Is So Hard to Do. The crux of the article is:

“Habits are powerful. We persist with many of them because we tend to give undue emphasis to the present. Trying something new can be painful: I might not like what I get and must forgo something I already enjoy. That cost is immediate, while any benefits — even if they are large — will be enjoyed in a future that feels abstract and distant”.

There might be better monitoring tools out there, but after a work day spent at the computer, when I get home, I’m often ready to unplug, rather than hopping back online and exploring new tools. So, my question for you, dear reader: how do you push yourself to try new tools? How many monitoring platforms did you experiment with before deciding on your favourites?

COM0014-Blog #7 Live the story you want to tell!

For as long as the world has existed stories have been told through cave paintings, pictograms, and writing.  Now we have blogging, I wonder what the next thing will be.

I have enjoyed this course and it has made me more confident in telling my story.  I was one of those people that would be surrounded by crunched up paper because I just couldn’t get it right, or so I though.  At a very young age we all learn how to listen to a story and as we get older telling stories becomes an every day conversation.  Having the passion about what you are talking or writing about and making your audience feel it brings them into your story.  I have no problem getting up in front of people and speaking, in my voice they can hear my passion but how to get that passion into writing is a whole new talent.  One of the things that I have learned through this course is that I write better when I finish what I start immediately, no taking a break or starting than finishing the next day.  Not sure why this works for me but it does.  When I started this course I didn’t know the importance of adding images to blogs but now I do and use them regularly.

After starting this course I bought a journal to keep in our family room and we, my husband and I, have been doing entries.  We told our kids about it and they thought it would be something for them to treasure in the future.  Someday when I am old and maybe even forgetful I can look back and see these great memories written down and tell the story I have lived.

Thank you Nelly Leonidis

 

COM0014 – Blog #6 Do you want to know my story?

It was December 19th, 1965 that I would travel home for the first time with my mom and dad, officially adopted. I was only 2 months old so none of this really meant anything to me, I was feed, diaper changed and everyone loved me. That all changed when I was 10, I opened a drawer that held some interesting folders and boxes, so of course I had to check them out. Who was this Mary Elizabeth that her name showed on all these papers?

As it turned out Mary Elizabeth was actually Lisa Marie, yep that’s me. I had a hard time dealing with this fact and spent some time in foster care as well as counselling but in the end it all was good until August 1992. I received a call from The Catholic Children’s Aid Society, they left a message saying they needed to speak with me about an urgent matter. I immediately called back and it was like no one wanted to talk with me, they kept passing me around. Finally I spoke with someone who had the task of telling me that my biological parents thought I was dead since I was 3 months old. Apparently when you place a child for adoption you have a grace period of 90 days before you can be legally adopted, but I was only 2 months old when I was adopted. Back then unwed young moms were frowned upon and the nuns that ran the Children’s Aid didn’t think they should be able to come back for their children.

My biological mother refused to work with the Children’s Aid so she told them if I was interested in meeting her to meet her on Thursday at the Mother Tuckers restaurant in Burlington at 6pm, she would be wearing a blue coat and reservation would be under Thelma. Never have I been so nervous going into a restaurant, thank god I was there first. I sat nervously waiting, anticipating her arrival, when she walked around the corner it was like looking into a mirror. We embraced and talked for hours, we both shed a lot of tears so it was a good thing we were in a dark corner. I learned that night that I had a biological brother. Two days later I meet my biological father and brother, again talking for hours.

My mother put me in the care of the Children’s Aid because she had no family and needed to find a job. She knew she had 3 months and felt if she couldn’t get her life together by than, then I deserved better. My father was in the army so when he came back she told him about me and he said let’s go get her, it had only been 9 weeks. They stopped at a store on the way to buy me an outfit to wear home. I can only image their excitement when they arrived but it was short lived, they were told I had died, death certificates to prove it. Why would they question what they were being told? Six months later they married and welcomed a baby boy 2 years after that, than divorced 8 years later.

What started this entire journey was my doctor putting in for a health history request so I would know my biological family’s past medical history. So now that we know all of this what do we do? First thing call the lawyers, they literally were knocking down our door seeing the dollars. We decided not to sue for many reasons but the big one was that it would null and void my adoption with the Murphy’s and I couldn’t do that to them. At a time when I had no one they were there to love me unconditionally.

Today I still see my biological family who live within a 2hrs drive and my kids are lucky having extra family. Recently my dad passed and now it’s my turn to be there for my mom. She was there for me in the beginning and I will be there for her in the end.

COM0014 – Blog #5 A Brand New Me

Who am I? At first glance, it’s a simple looking question and seems just as simple to answer, but not so much.  I believe that every day I am changing through new experiences, knowledge and like a fine red wine I only get better with age.  I spent much of my younger generation trying to find myself because I was adopted but as I aged I realized that I needed to invent myself, I was a clean slate that could be and do anything I wanted.

Fast forward 40 years, I own 3 successful businesses and am now semi retired.  People often tell me that I need to learn the word “No”, yes I tend to take on too much and I set my standards quite high but I enjoy seeing what I can do.  My greatest strengths are my creativity, drive and leadership, I thrives on challenges and work well under pressure. It has been often commented on
that I know how to put people at ease and am always willing to lend a hand.  The one thing that I am most proud of is that I work with my husband, son and daughter, and every weekend we still all get to just be a family.  Learning to keep things separate has made us a very strong unit.

Some of my personal traits have made me a successful business owner, I believe that if I didn’t have drive I would have been happy working for someone else, if I didn’t have a vision I wouldn’t be happy with where I am, and if I didn’t have strength I would still be trying to find myself.

Recently I lost my dad, for many years I thought his love for me was less than what he felt for his biological children, he was always so much harder on me.  As it turns out he loved me more but in a different way, he said I was the strong one that could be counted on, my heart was big enough to love all things and that I had the ability to see the good in everyone.  I can only hope that others see me the way he did because I sound like a really good person.

Favorite picture of my dad teaching my son to fish

COM0014 Blog #3: Life is a Highway

Truck drivers get a bad rap, so trying to recruit new drivers is not an easy sell now a days, hence the reason for a driver shortage.  All the things that use to entice people to drive truck don’t seem so appealing now, the ability to travel while making money was a dream job and its one of the oldest professions.  People always say if you got it a truck brought it.

The study by the Canadian Trucking Alliance forecast a shortage of 34,000 drivers by 2024.  The demand for drivers is expected to grow the most in Ontario, followed by British Columbia.  Most people that become truck drivers are people that have been in a family of truck drivers, little boys and girls love to go for rides in Daddy’s truck right?  So how do we recruit new drivers, through our past students.  For every new student they send our way they receive $100.00.  Sure we have facebook, twitter, etc. but the people that follow us are usually already driving truck.  We do job fairs and each year we take a truck to various high schools and talk about truck driving as a career choice.

As we look to the future of truck driving the introduction of the self-driving truck has been a hot topic.  While it remains I believe there will always be a need to have someone in the truck in case of electronic issues, loading and unloading and border crossing.  I for one do not look forward to seeing a transport truck with no driver, how about you?

http://cantruck.ca/truck-driver-shortage-accelerating-according-to-new-cta-study/