Tag Archives: story-telling

What’s the Story? How Social Media is Changing the Art of Storytelling


This post first appeared as a guest post I wrote for Daybydan.wordpress.com

The art of good story telling is a vital part of your tool kit whether you work in PR, broadcasting, journalism or sales.

But the way we tell our stories is changing. It’s no longer enough to write a press release or a newspaper article with accompanying photo. Things are getting seriously mixed up and a lot more fun, with the introduction of social media and live elements into the way we present stories.

When I started at the BBC, the radio news package was the standard reporting form and it was an exquisite thing. A series of high quality interviews woven together with atmospheric sound and relevant effects, like honking traffic or twittering birds. It could take as many as three engineers to put it together properly. This type of broadcasting looks like a Caravaggio now – beautiful but a thing of past.

Today we have neither the time nor the money to spend days on a mini documentary. We need to get the news out there fast. Getting the key players in a major story on the end of a telephone is probably still the quickest way to broadcast breaking news, but in a social era when we acknowledge that the journalists don’t hold all the cards, we can be more creative than that.

This is why I am very excited by some of the multi-media reporting I have seen lately from people like the BBC and the Guardian.

The BBC provided an excellent service during that weird period after the election last year when the nation seemed to have no government. Using a live news page on the BBC website they were able to pull together the best breaking news facts, blog posts, expert opinion, public comment via their own forums and Twitter, together with rolling live coverage of press conferences and any exciting comings and goings. It felt as though rolling news had come of age.

Over at the Guardian, reporters have been getting their readers thoroughly involved in things like travel pieces by using Twitter – sometimes in real time. Look at this example of a collaborative piece in which the journalist asks readers to recommend their favourite hidden spots in London. He then checks them out, using photos and videos to add that fashionable “homemade” feel.

Increasingly traditional media is getting into story curation, pulling in diverse elements, including the best of what we have to say. And the punters are steadily moving centre stage in all this. There is a new tool being developed called Storify which makes linking together existing content simplicity itself so that anyone can curate stories as they unfold. It is still largely under wraps but some influencers have had a go at it – here are some examples.

and here;

Since last autumn 10,000 Storify stories have been created, attracting 4.5 million views – they recently got a $2million investment boost from Khosla Ventures so I am sure we will be hearing more about them.

Interestingly the company’s co-founder Burt Herman is a former journalist so he knows what he is talking about.

For me it is not about adopting the new for the sake of it, but about looking at which media people are using, how they like to get their information and what they do with it. Then you can start deciding how to use that to make your stories more relevant.

Let’s hear it for radio.

I woke up this morning to a piece on the radio about the surprisingly healthy state of British theatre. It seems our desire to be told stories has helped recession- proof the industry.

As I was pondering the whole idea of story-telling and why we seem to need it I had to stop and give my attention to the radio again. Fi Glover was interviewing Mark Radcliffe, one of my favourite broadcasters. I love his contempt for all that is fake, fashionable and ‘glamorous’.

Next I came downstairs to make breakfast and was stopped short again by a totally random interview with Elton John. Danny Baker was doing a great job. They talked about his school days and working in a record shop and I was gripped by the story about how Elton came to write for the Scissor Sisters, even his views on Simon Cowell were interesting !

Then it struck me, and I hope you are with me by now. Radio really is the perfect medium for story-telling.

Radio is my first love and was my first career but I think we all forget it sometimes. It rarely comes up in serious discussion about revolution in the media and was often overlooked when I worked at the BBC.

So let’s hear it for radio and in particular, the way it touches the part of us that needs a  story.