Salon Series: Summer Edition 2019
More than ever in an age where consumers demand deeper connections to the brands they support, as marketers we are storytellers. Things got personal at the Summer 2019 edition of our Salon Series, but the speakers reminded us that that’s the point when you’re talking about storytelling.
Our speakers helped us dig in to the nature and function of storytelling, and how to do it well. We welcomed journalists Sarain Fox and Kathleen Newman-Bremang, journalist and Ryerson School of Journalism instructor Sandra E Martin, and producer and founder of Prospero Pictures Martin Katz, all moderated by Darren Roberts, from A&C.
Here were the most salient responses to our questions.
Are some people natural storytellers?
All people, no matter the industry that they work in, tell stories everyday.
“I think that this idea that some of us aren’t natural storytellers isn’t true; it’s just some of us do it for a living,” Kathleen said. “If you came in to work one day and some dude was peeing on the streetcar, you’re probably going to retell that story.”
We also encounter storytelling opportunities everyday that we overlook.
“People used to say, ‘hi, how are you, what do you do?’ It meant, ‘what is your professional background, so that I will understand whether I should speak with you or go get a beer and let someone else speak to you.’ I think what we really need is, ‘hello, what’s your story?’” Martin said.
Our panel discussion Wednesday morning encouraged us to go deeper.
Where do the speakers’ stories come from?
In summary, stories begin rooted in each’s own perspectives.
“As a journalist, there's always this conversation about how you avoid being biased. As an Indigenous person, I've always been seen as biased just because my perspective is not white. We have to acknowledge our minds and acknowledge that our bias is actually the root and seed of our stories,” said Sarain.
To create powerful stories, Kathleen suggests leaning into your experiences instead of trying to remove yourself from the story entirely, something she practices in her work. Her experiences have allowed her to take pop culture to a place “bigger than gossip,” and it resonates with her audience.
When Jay-Z’s album 4:44 dropped featuring references to his infidelity in his marriage, Kathleen had a personal story about black men and infidelity. She included it in a piece she wrote for Lainey Gossip.
“My inbox was flooded with stories of people who felt connected to what I wrote. And it started with a frivolous gossip story,” she said. “That was realizing the power of analyzing celebrity culture and gossip, which is the OG form of storytelling,”
How have their stories fostered connection within their communities?
Sandra remembers a time when some of the perspectives being shared today weren’t given any space in media.
“It is not something that existed when I started in the business; as a woman in the business and particularly as a visible minority. It was tough to get a voice and it is so refreshing to see that that is changing,” Sandra said.
As marketers, we also choose who we give representation to.
“You can tell a story that helps somebody else either identify something that they've never felt able to put into words, help them solve a problem in their lives, and help them connect with somebody who can help them be whole,” Sandra said.
The volume and weight of stories coming at us in so many mediums every day may seem like noise at times. But we are each empowered to decide which stories we will listen to, retell and uplift.
“We exist through story,” said Martin, “It’s how we interact. It’s how we breathe,”
-Emily Craig-Evans, Account Coordinator