Sword and the Script

Without Tension, there is No Storytelling



by Frank Strong

Without Tension there is No Storytelling

“Your company isn’t just an organization. It is a story,” according to a Storytelling Guide by Nasdaq Media Intelligence.

The paper, which is quick and easy primer on storytelling, defines a story as “a character in pursuit of a goal in the face of some challenge or obstacle.”

It seems simple enough, but corporate communications often stops with just two parts of a three-part framework – a character in pursuit of a goal.  This happens because corporate leaders tend to get hemmed up over revealing obstacles, or what Lou Hoffman often refers to as tension in storytelling: Read More…

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Fish Out of Water: Shark Week, Science and Storytelling



by Frank Strong

Fish Out of Water Shark Week Science and Storytelling

Stories are entertaining and people are hardwired to retain stories.

Journalists, PR pros and increasingly of late, marketers, are increasingly focused on telling stories as a technique for getting information across.

Fill up an article, video or presentation with compelling statistics and a few stories to go along with it – and people won’t recall the statistics, but they will remember the stories.

There’s a certain danger, or responsibility perhaps, that goes along with storytelling. The danger exists when the mix between information and entertainment – leans more heavily on theater than it does on facts.

It’s a dangerous combination Neil Postman called “infotainment.”  Entertainment gets the ratings, but we haven’t learned anything.  In fact, we might be dumber for the consumption. Postman said we were “Amusing Ourselves to Death.” Read More…

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What if NYC Made WTC BASE Jumping an Annual Event?



by Frank Strong

What if NYC Made BASE Jumping an Annual Event

In 2013 three BASE jumpers snuck into the World Trade Center in the wee hours of the morning, climbed to the top, and jumped off with parachutes.

The trio filmed the stunt, were later tracked down by authorities and charged with criminal offenses including a felony.

About two years later, in June 2015, the three were acquitted of the felony but found guilty on lesser counts. The bottom of an NBC 4 New York article summarizes the issues succinctly:

The New Yorkers pleaded not guilty to felony burglary, reckless endangerment and other charges in the leap, which was captured in a YouTube video. The stunt raised questions about security at the then-unfinished skyscraper.

The parachutists acknowledge making the jump. They said that they didn’t imperil anyone and that the charges are overreaching by embarrassed authorities.

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Engineering the Enterprise for Content Marketing



Engineering the Enterprise for Content Marketing

Recently a puzzle like the one nearby made rounds on the web.   Fifth grade students allegedly can solve this problem in 20 seconds or less.

If you tried and failed, you are not alone and we are together in this one.  Though I tried to recall forgotten algebra lessons from the foggiest reaches of my mind the effort was for naught.  And algebra, if I could have recalled it, wouldn’t have helped me anyway.

The solution is far easier and I’ve posted the answer at the bottom of this post. Read More…

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What Native Ads Mean for PR



by Frank Strong

What Native Ads Mean for PR

Following the likes of BuzzFeed, Gawker and the WaPo, among other media outlets, CNN is going all in on native advertising with an in-store studio or so to speak.

Writing for a WSJ business blog, Steven Perlberg reported:

CNN is creating an in-house studio that will produce news-like content on behalf of advertisers, a move that reflects marketers’ growing desire for articles and videos that feel like editorial work.

About a dozen staffers (made up of journalists, filmmakers and designers) will help launch the new unit, called Courageous. The division will fashion and distribute “branded content” across CNN’s fleet of properties, from TV to the Web and newer platforms like Snapchat…

…But the idea now is to work more closely with companies to highlight things that may have news value, such as the building of a manufacturing plant or a philanthropic effort, according to Otto Bell, the lead of the studio and former creative director at OgilvyEntertainment.

Mr. Bell said that his team would be staffed with “folks who have journalistic instincts” who would go into a company and “find that newsworthy element and extract that.”

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Scale Content Marketing: Employees are the Secret



by Frank Strong

Scale Content Marketing Employees are the Secret

“The biggest challenge is that we are moving from an industry that could create one amazing commercial to reach consumers to an ecosystem with a diversified channel structure,” according to Mike Scafidi, marketing operations with PepsiCo.

His commentary was presented in a white paper titled The Future of Content co-produced by The Content Counsel and an AdAge team that writes sponsored content for brands.  The paper is based on a combination of a survey of approximately 500 marketers and interviews from a number of people, like Mr. Sacfidi, from large consumer brands.

The top challenges and goals identified in the survey – producing quality content consumers find engaging – are consistent with other content marketing studies.  Yet the paper also surfaces the underlying driver of the shift to content marketing. Read More…

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6 Ways to Get More from your PR Agency



by Frank Strong

6 Ways to Get More from your PR Agency

I’ll never forget that new CMO.  He had just moved to Virginia from San Francisco to take the top marketing job at tech start-up.  California tan, cufflinks and all the “I’m from Silicon Valley” swagger he needed round it out.

He also had an incredible amount of pressure. As a new CMO, he was in the hot seat to make something out of nothing, to put that start-up on the map and help it figure out how to win some customers and define a market.

It wasn’t just business, it was personal:  he had moved his whole family from one coast to the other.  It’s a 3,000 mile trip for anyone counting.

At the time, I worked for a PR firm he inherited from his predecessor. He seemed willing to give us a go (where the CMO playbook usually involves switching agencies after the second down), and there’s no doubt we were enthusiastic about it, but there was one big problem:  a lack of everything. Read More…

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8 Corporate Communications Tips for Hiring a PR Firm



by Frank Strong

8 Corporate Communication Tips for Hiring a PR Agency

Hiring a PR firm for the corporate communications mix is a sizable undertaking but it usually boils down to picking the right people. As such identifying and selecting a firm is a big decision that deserves a thorough examination of the proposed team.

As the employers I’ve represented have grown larger, the firms I’ve engaged have grown smaller. That’s not by accident, and though I’ve managed a half-dozen or so firms in my tenure, including international firms, I tend to favor a smaller shops, that are nimble, highly responsive, provide access to the firm’s leadership and by virtue of being a small business, have some of their own skin in the game.

My views on hiring the best PR firm for an organization are pretty strong and I’d like to believe based on a broad perspective.  Here’s what has worked for me and I hope of assistance to you. Read More…

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Infographic: The Perennial Customer Revolution



by Frank Strong

Infographic The Perennial Customer Revolution - headerBellbottoms are coming back in style. It seems every few years I hear this but the retro-trend never actually seems to  materialize.  It makes for good chit chat, but beyond that such chatter, is more or less idle.

It also seems to me the same is true of customer service.  Every few years there’s a new book that forewarns of a customer revolution.  Mass media, the web, social media were all destined to change customer service. And yet it hasn’t.

Good customer service isn’t the rule, it’s an exception.

Litmus test?  Quick name five businesses you can think of with exceptional customer service.

I can get to three: Amazon, AT&T and Zappos.  And I purchased shoes online…once…from Amazon. Read More…

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