“You’re never going to kill storytelling, because it’s built into the human plan. We come with it. (Margaret Attwood)
Just how long has the art of storytelling been around? Let’s go back in time. You might think the telegraph machine, the typewriter? No, let’s go way back to cavemen and the Stone Ages. We’re not talking Bedrock and the Flintstones. We are talking about etchings and cave paintings created over 40,000 years ago.
I’m here to tell you that these cavemen “artists” were impactful storytellers, the first content marketers, using dirt and charcoal to share stories of their daily lives, from educating where to find food to warning about predators.
Our stories, warnings, information have expanded exponentially, as have the platforms on which they’re shared. From cave walls to the Cloud, there is an unrelenting stream of content produced every second — blogs, videos, podcasts, stories on Snap, IG/Facebook Live, and on it goes.
It wasn’t always that way. Not even in my lifetime.
Reaching Out To Your Audience
My first experience with storytelling as “content marketing” came decades before content and marketing ever became intertwined, and well before social media or even the World Wide Web.
The year was 1990. It was my first assignment as a young sports radio reporter: file a story from the Bobby Orr Charity Skate-A-Thon at Maple Leaf Gardens.
As a cub reporter just starting out, the word “intimidating” does little justice to how I felt getting ready to meet a legend, one of my idols. So imagine this shy kid with a tape recorder (remember those?), the microphone shaking in hand, frozen with anxiety, standing in the middle of the ice rink, with hundreds of reporters and charity members skating all around. I feel a tap on my shoulder.
The word “intimidating” does little justice to how I felt getting ready to meet a legend, one of my idols, a future Hall of Famer. Trembling in my boots (or was it skates?), I ambled about in the middle of the rink with a tape recorder and microphone shaking in my hands, hundreds of reporters and charity members skating all around me.
“Would you like to interview me?” It was Mr. Bobby Orr. Smiling and inviting, he had seen someone who seemingly had a problem to solve (i.e. ‘How do I get up the nerve to go talk to Bobby Orr??’), and he came over to offer unexpected help. A super-nice guy, and also someone who wanted to tell stories about his event.
Earn Fans with Storytelling, Engage and Earn Trust
Sharing informative and engaging stories creates connection with others. What Bobby Orr was doing is “content marketing” – face-to-face, in a spoken word interview. Effective content marketing not only connects, it attracts, teaches and stimulates. By involving your audiences, you can earn their business, confidence and trust.
Great storytelling has always been the way into hearts and minds. For cavemen, the platform was wall etchings. Today, the means of getting your messages and stories out would be unimaginable to the first storytellers, and no longer merely cast in … bedrock.
Dave Litman is a master storyteller, having written and produced for The Discovery Channel, TSN, VH1 and other media. He share perspectives on the glue of storytelling in Content Marketing, from analog ages to digital world.