…”And, so, we had to drag the body out through the back yard.”
That sentence was at the top of a multi-page letter my brother sent me years ago. Of course, I flipped back to the bottom of the previous page to see if I’d missed something fairly significant! Maybe I was just giving it a superficial read, as mentioned in Brian Clark‘s How to Read article (not that I knew that term then … just learned about it!). But, no, of course he was playing a trick and the next line said something along the line of ‘fishing me in’. The joke certainly kept me engaged and I felt closer to my brother, like he was in the same room with me bantering back and forth.
So, I’ve been remembering the importance of storytelling in my life and seeing the relevance in today’s digital communications. I’ve also been reflecting this week on how much I miss creative writing. I hadn’t done it in so long that I vaguely assumed that I had lost the talent entirely. Now, I’m actually thinking of continuing with a blog! A week ago, I barely had blogs on my radar at all and couldn’t tell you if they were even a thing anymore.
Spark of creativity
It is amazing the unexpected things that light a spark in our lives. Maybe you remember a time when something out of the blue motivated you to do something you forgot you knew how to do? Or, encouraged you to start something brand new? Let me know about it!
Who knows, the stories we tell may light a spark in someone else’s life!
Here’s a little fire to remind us of the spark that is in all of us.
Image by Debra Beauregard; outdoor fireplace in the backyard; 2020
When it comes to digital communications, some of the most important concepts to remember are to know your target audience, listen to them, and become a storyteller for your brand. Always remember that the way you tell your brand’s story must be interesting, captivating, and unique!
Storytelling is important for creating great digital content because it shows a passion for your brand and people are able to relate to your content, and your brand more easily. Storytelling is often inspiring and captivating so people will listen and want to know more. This will help you build a community for your brand.
I currently work for the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa, managing their social media. As such, my content will be guided by story by sharing the stories of all the churches within the Diocese. Each week I will be speaking with the clergy and lay leaders of a different church and begin telling the world each church’s story. I will share their history, as well as talk about their new outreach ministries, and how they are helping their individual communities, especially during the pandemic year. This will allow people to relate and see the churches as more than just buildings. This will help show the true passion of the people inside each of those buildings.
Storytelling is the foundation of digital communications. It is who we are, what we do, and how we do it. This is the important information we need to be sharing. Storytelling allows people to understand and feel your story. When you tell your story, people will begin to walk your brand’s story with you.
What I learnt in this course is, that we need great storytelling for compelling content marketing that will grasp the attention of the consumer. Especially in the fast-paced world of social media in that, we live today.
I also learnt that we should not be afraid to make mistakes and not to over-edit our work. We learn and grow from our mistakes – as writers and marketers. In the past, I was always too scared to make mistakes or thought I should not write about a certain subject, but after this course, I will change that.
We also need to remember to be transparent in the relationship with our customers. So, I will try and find a piece of myself in every story that I will write from now on.
I was also too afraid to be too personal in the content that I post online, but now I will start to embrace that and be more transparent and share more personal stories. Thank you!
I never thought or even had the dream of becoming a model. But in 2011 I accompanied my sister to find her wedding dress in a Bridal Store in our hometown in Germany.
When we were ready to leave, the owner asked me if I wanted to model for her on the runway. And that’s how I landed my first model gig.
The owner of a bridal store hired me for three runway shows. I had never modeled before which meant I was about to learn how to pose and walk like a model on the job.
Luckily, some of the other and more experienced models gave me a few modelling lessons while we were waiting to go on the runway.
This experience was my first and only model experience until I met a photographer named Eike on the Frankfurt Zombiewalk in 2014, three years later. (He made all photos you can see on today’s blog post)
I don’t know how Eike saw that I could be a model for Portrait and Fashion photography, but he approached me that day at the Zombiewalk in Frankfurt and told me to message him to set up a photoshoot. Later I found out, that we just lived across the road from each other. Small world!
But this was the beginning of my modelling career. Since moving to Canada and because of Covid-19 it has slowed down quite a bit. But I’m sure it will pick up again when things get back to “normal”.
But you never know how your life might change. I certainly never thought I would model but I enjoy it very much and have found really good friends through it.
Did something like that happen to you as well? Let me know in the comments.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
One evening in 2018, Olga closed her laptop and walked out of a hotel room in Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan, for a quick dinner. She had arrived in the city the previous night to participate in a workshop for local civil society groups. As the head of a small human rights watchdog, she was a regular at these events.
When Olga returned to the hotel, her laptop was not there. The hotel had no security cameras, and police officers who soon arrived said it was unlikely that she would get the device back. That only reinforced the woman’s suspicion that the laptop had been taken by the authorities. As a vocal member of a coalition demanding justice for victims of police abuse, she knew the authorities would do anything to get access to her data.
Having the laptop stolen could have had dire consequences for Olga, her organization and other people that she worked with. She had a lot of sensitive files on her hard drive, including testimonies from victims of police torture. If this data fell into the hands of the authorities, it would have been a disaster for many people.
Encryption and backups
Nonprofits and activists are particularly vulnerable to attacks targeting their online assets and digital devices. The Ottawa-based organization I work for helps civil society organizations in countries like Kazakhstan to tackle digital risks.
Shortly before Olga’s laptop was stolen, we had helped her organization to put in place basic digital safety measures. Those measures included encrypting her laptop and setting up automatic backups. So, Olga not only kept all her files but also knew that the thief would not be able to decrypt them. As a precaution against possible device loss, we had also enabled remote erase on the laptop. With the laptop gone, the woman activated this function and knew that as soon as her device connected to the Internet, its hard drive would be wiped.
This is what we do on a daily basis. This work is important for activists and civil society groups fighting injustices and making their communities and nations better places to live.
And what is your your favourite customer story? Have you ever helped someone in a way that made you particularly proud of your job? Share your stories in the comments below.
Stories are the building blocks of human communication. They are the most effective way to convey information. The most effective storytellers use their unique voices, an important part of who they are, to communicate both online and offline.
Start With a Story
Stories are at the core of communication. We tell stories to pass on information and make it interesting. We also tell stories to make sure that the audience understands the message we want to convey.
Best stories have a structure that makes it easier for people to follow them. They have a beginning or introduction that sets the scene for what the author is trying to do. The main message is conveyed in the body of the story. Finally, a good story has a conclusion that typically reveals what the story is about.
If you are pushing out content on social media, turn that content into stories that your audience will want to hear.
Every Story Is Unique
Even when several people tell the same story, the way they tell it will differ. This is because we all have unique voices. The most effective communicators build on their distinctive voices in telling stories.
Your communication style is the ultimate expression of your unique voice. The way you tell stories will vary depending on the context, from very casual to very formal. Yet people will still be able to recognize your voice behind the story if you follow your communication style consistently.
Tell Your Story
Do you ever think of what you post on social media as stories? What is the greatest story you ever told on social media? I will be happy to hear from you in the comments below.
As a photojournalist, telling stories is what my job is. There are always 2 sides to a medal and, as a staff photographer I get to show our side of it. The medias can take care of the other side.
Photo of the medals awarded to Lt.-Col. David Currie during the Second World War including the Victoria Cross. Photo by Serge Gouin
With a minimum of information, a time, place and a contact name, I need to be able to show up at any location with the appropriate gear, and document any event in a way that will go along the lines of what my client is hoping.
There is rarely only one client since, many department can benefit from these images. If I do it right, I can supply images for the event manager (most likely to promote the event the next year), the social media team, the recruiting team, our image bank and even the participants themselves.
Understanding your audience, the impact you are hoping to get is crucial. Learning to please most of it is something I need to deal with on a daily basis. Experience is the key and feedback is the most precious thing you can ever get.
Telling a story is not hard for me. That being said, the challenge is always there. What if the light is not as nice as you expected? What if only 10 people showed up to this rally? What do you do if it rains? …
You just need to find the right angle. Our angle. Our side of the medal.
If you wish to read about the medal’s story, click here
Following a VIP in Ma’Sum Ghar, Afghanistan, in 2010. Photo by a friend.
I bet the picture with me and a camera de-fused that violent image you initially had in your head. That is the power of images.
It is my job as a photojournalist to tell stories. My story is simple. My assignments as a photographer take me anywhere and everywhere, therefore allowing to share what I experience along the way. I also have other passions like trail running, martial arts and traveling. On my blog, I want to portray myself as an accessible person who likes to share his adventures and challenges, that’s why I write in first person. I try my best to remain positive and prefer experience to opinions.
Covering the RCMP Sunset ceremonies in Ottawa, 2015. Photo by Rick Millette.
Luckily photography is a medium that is easy to share. They tell a story or show something in a way that is a lot easier than having to explain it; hence the cliché quote: “A picture is worth a thousand words”.
My intent is not to teach nor speak about the science behind photography, or at least not really in depth. There are plenty of people that do that very well in YouTube already. I try to keep it simple, and just give a bit more details about the photographs. I tell my story, very much like a journal, or a conversation I would have with my friends. It also serves the purpose of building credibility to the people who might be interested in hiring me down the road, allowing them to get to know me better before they make that first contact.
Would you allow me to shoot you now?
Documenting the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, France. Photo by my boss.