Storytelling: dead or alive in the social media age? (book review)

I tend to pounce on books and other references on storytelling, given my business focus. So Peter Guber had me at hello with the premise of his new tome on storytelling, Tell to Win. Most of the book got moderate interest from me, as he lays out structuring an effective story to get that ah ha! moment, harnessing the art of the tell and sourcing raw material – with lots of entertaining name dropping sprinkled throughout.

Because I spend a lot of my time these days helping clients connect through multimedia and social media, I perked up over the last chapter where Guber addresses – finally! I thought – technology and new media in storytelling. Here he is cautionary. He recognizes that online engagement can enhance one’s credibility. Through tools like blogs, Facebook and Twitter, he writes, “potential audiences can determine your authenticity before they even meet you.” That said, as gee-whiz as technology such as telepresence is, it can’t be as impactful as face-to-face contact, he argues.

What! I initially blustered. Then word-of-mouth advocate Geno Church, writing for PRSA’s June Tactics, reminds us that the vast majority of interaction still happens offline. Church advises using your online strategy to drive offline conversations because, he writes, at the end of the day “people are the killer app… Human interactions always trump online interactions.”

What’s the takeaway? It’s strategy then tactics, folks.  Don’t be wow’ed by the latest shiny new communications gizmo (today it’s Google+) if it doesn’t fit your business goals. Even then, every gizmo – old or new – should be kept in its rightful place as a means to your end, not the end itself.

Read more at:

Guber, Peter. Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story. 2011, Crown Business Books. Available in hardcover and for Kindle from Amazon.

Church, Geno et al. Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable Word of Mouth Movements. 2010, Wiley. Available in hardcover and for Kindle from Amazon. Tap into Church by blogTwitter.