Wisdom Wednesdays: Stuff, Story & So Much Spaghetti

by Gretchen Jameson

Here’s the reality. Every 60 seconds:

  • 168 million emails are sent
  • 6,600 new Flickr photos are uploaded
  • 98,000 Tweets are sent
  • 695,000 status updates are posted on Facebook
  • 600 new videos are put on You Tube
  • 13,000 hours of music are streaming on Pandora
  • 1,500 blog posts are published

Ensuring that your organization is heard in this noisy landscape must be the singular top priority of your communications, public relations and marketing efforts.

How is it going?  What is the secret sauce that launches an organization’s social media and total communications strategy to the next level?  How do you stop pushing messages and start pulling engagement?

You focus on story.  Passionate, single-minded pursuit of story sharing.

Frequently, when working with organizations on their total communications strategy, of which social media should be just one component, we discover an imbalance in messages.  An imbalance of stuff over story.

It’s been said, as we all nod, that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.  Essentially people connect with stories, and you need to tell them.  I’m not just talking about incorporating donor testimonials or tales from the field into your current communications tactics.  The story you need to script first, the story that must be the umbrella over your total communications and message strategy is that of your brand.  What is your narrative?  Who are the leading characters?  What struggles are you overcoming?  Why?  Success in social media, in all media and marketing communications, hinges on your ability to highlight story over stuff.

Jay Baer, on his leading blog Convince and Convert urges us to focus on how to be social, not on how to do social.  I think this advice applies to every communications interaction.  Your goal must be to engage the other, to truly connect with meaningful messages that capture attention, harness interest and spur action.

When we focus on stuff, we end up throwing spaghetti against the wall; waiting for something to stick and then are perplexed about what causes some things to hold fast and others to slop.

When we focus on story, we become more purposeful and focused in our communications.  When we focus on story, we operate from a position of why, not what.  We spark relationships by engaging people with the larger context of why we do what we do in the way we do it.

Seth Godin looks at it this way:

Hard to imagine a consultant or investor asking the CMO, “So, what’s your telephone strategy?”

We don’t have a telephone strategy.  The telephone is a tool, a simple medium, and its only purpose is to connect us to interested human beings.

So, to pull from Seth, what’s your people strategy?  What is your message strategy?  What story are you pulling people to participate in with your organization?  Why?

Be about story, not stuff; and save spaghetti for your favorite Italian joint.

Gretchen Jameson is the Founder and Principal of purePR, a communications strategy firm focused on helping nonprofit clients amplify their mission messages.  Connect with her on Twitter or join purePR on Facebook.

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2 thoughts on “Wisdom Wednesdays: Stuff, Story & So Much Spaghetti

  1. Message strategies should follow an uncovering of the Promise and then focus on the promise of the mission. This Promise contains what is compelling, differentiating and true about your story. “Meaningful messages that capture attention, harness interest and spur action” will communicate your promise or “the impact of your mission in the lives of others.” I like Gretchen’s description of “focus on stuff being like speghetti…”. This is what happens when we communicate from the “inside-out” perspective. Effective stories require an “outside in” audience point of view. I only wish I could act upon my own realization. That’s where pros like Gretchen come in to help us. Good stuff here Gretchen!

  2. Pingback: Wisdom Wednesdays: Donor Relations is About Management and Moving | ALDE

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