Storytellers Come In Many Forms

It is clear that the term “storyteller” has taken off as a popular buzzword, specifically in the media and content marketing profession. Although the word has grown in popularity over the years, and it seems as though every working professional regardless of their industry is using the term to describe their line of work, I don’t believe the term is overused. The controversy surrounds the issue of what is considered a story and what is not. Obviously an author writing a novel is telling a story, but is a marketing professional trying to convince consumers to purchase the Apple Watch considered a storyteller as well?

I personally don’t believe that all storytellers have to necessarily be authors of books or other similar publications. I think that storytellers must simply posses a great deal of creativity, and have a message that they need to share with the world, whether that be through photography, digital graphic design, writing, videography, billboards, and so on. Storytellers must include some emotional aspect in their story so they attract and hook their audience, and it is important to make the characters in the story as detailed as possible in order for the audience to believe that this could potentially be a very real scenario. I think a story must also have a beginning and an end. For example, Shane Snow shares a story on Hubstop Blogs about a woman who writes her own music and had recently left her label with the hopes of producing her music on her own. This story could potentially be boring and uninteresting to the target audience, but the storyteller adds important details to personalize the story by saying, “a pale woman with crazy eyebrows and a keytar strapped to her back made a video of herself, wearing a kimono and holding up hand-Sharpied signs on a street in Melbourne.” This gives us an idea of who this woman really is. We can picture this woman in our heads, and want to read on and hear what happens to her and her career.

Media and content marketing professionals have a wide range of what they think is considered storytelling and what is not. After watching the video interview with Stefan Sagmeister regarding his views on what makes a storyteller, he claims that many people claiming to be storytellers aren’t really telling stories at all. One example he uses is a man who designs rollercoasters, claiming that he has no way to tell a story in his line of work. He also argues that many people who truly are storytellers don’t use that term to describe their line of work. Some may argue that a rollercoaster designer has the power to tell a story in his line of work, possibly regarding the joy that comes from riding a rollercoaster, containing a positive, family oriented atmosphere, and so on.