FOUR WAYS TO TELL BETTER STORIES

Advertising

This article originally appeared on MMI Agency’s blog. Read more here.

In the ad world, it seems we are all about storytelling these days. Everyone is talking about it—and for good reasons. Stories are entertaining, engaging, and valuable. When told well, they create meaningful connections between brands and consumers that move consumers emotionally, and generate conversations that can boost a brand’s visibility, cache and credibility.

Brands do this all the time. Think about Dove’s stories about women discovering their true beauty, or Nike’s compelling narratives about driven athletes who wear its apparel. Chipotle hit a home run with its short film that told the story of a scarecrow as dedicated to healthy, fresh ingredients as the restaurant brand.

Good storytelling takes skill, no question. However, not everyone in our industry has an English degree, studied psychology, or has been the beneficiary (or victim) of a storytelling workshop. But you don’t need those—or a Pulitzer Prize in literature—to be a compelling storyteller (although, it wouldn’t hurt).

So how do we hone our storytelling craft? With training and practice. Before you start telling yourself, “not for me,” consider these four easy ways to become a better storyteller…

Pitch, please.

Advertising, Lists

Before we begin, for those who don’t know, the advertising world is all about pitches. Pitches are the way to win new business and new clients. Basically, it’s the official process through which an agency “pitches” ideas to a prospective client. They are usually a two-week process during which you must respond to a prospective client’s prompt (what we call a “creative brief”) and develop several campaigns, with several different pieces in each campaign. At the end of the pre-pitch weeks, the agency will present their creative ideas and business plans to the client. Then, the client will think on it a long time and then choose which agency they liked best. Usually there are three or more agencies competing for the same business, but it depends on the client and the situation. It’s generally a very exciting – and very stressful – process that feels awesome when you win and pretty sucky when you don’t.

Now that we have that out of the way… I’ve been working on a pitch at work and it has been an event to say the least. We were given two weeks to prepare our presentation, but one of those weeks happened to be during Thanksgiving and you can imagine how helpful that was.

The Things I’ve Learned From Pitches

1. A Pitch is kind of like a marathon. Except you can’t train for it. And there aren’t people on the sidelines cheering for you.

2. There’s a lot of food involved. Catered. For Free.

3. Weekends become weekdays. And you spend more time at work than at home, which makes work feel like home, which makes finally going home feel weird.

4. Elevator music never stops playing. Even at night. When all the lights are off.

5. Night janitors wear headphones when vacuuming. That’s not a joke. Just an observation.

6. No one cares about recycling. We just print things. Over and over and over again.

7. You should be allowed to wear sweats to work everyday. And bunny slippers.

8. Illustrators are strange beasts who only communicate through email and never call you back.

9. Waiting for “Pitch Day” is like waiting for Christmas, the last day of school, and getting your lab test results back at the same time.

10. If I had to work nights and weekends, I wouldn’t choose any other team to work with. It’s feels awesome to stand in front of “The Wall” and see all the crazy, amazing, funny, inspiring work that you and your coworkers created. And I’m happy to have shared in the creative process with them.

For us, D-Day is this Wednesday. That’s when the pitch team travels to the mystery location (mystery for you, not for me) and delivers “The Pitch”. Then we’ll have to wait a bit for the client to deliberate and notify the agencies involved of their decision. I’m pretty confident in our work – and all the hard work and creative thinking that went into it all. We’ve produced a crazy amount of awesomeness these past two weeks. I really want to win. But, win or lose, I’ll just be glad when I can go home and enjoy a home-cooked meal. And change the water in my fish bowl.

Me when I had to work all weekend:

Me when I had to work all weekend.

Me the Monday after having to work all weekend:

Me the Monday after having to work all weekend.