Greenough Puts Storytelling to the Test

Articles about the power of storytelling are popping up in the media constantly these days. From Forbesto Fast Company, it seems everyone is suddenly singing the gospel of storytelling, praising its effectiveness in the communications world.  The fact that storytelling is now officially en vogue in the business community is no surprise to us. Storytelling is, and always has been, at the core of everything we do here at Greenough. We recognize that stories are not only an essential component of branding, but they are also the most powerful means of conveying a message and connecting with people.  How do we know?  We’ve put the idea to the test.  In summer 2012, we conducted our second “Prevailing Storylines Study,” poring over 10 of the most widely read publications, including Forbes, Fortune, New York Times, Time, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.  Unlike the last study (conducted in 2008), this time we included a few online-only publications including GigaOm, a leading tech outlet and two prominent blogs, the Green and Tech (Bits) blogs on nytimes.com.

We reviewed more than 1,000 articles over three months, looking for archetypal stories that appear regularly in mainstream media.  Once again, we found that most articles fit into at least one of the 10 classic archetypes – or narratives.  Here they are in the order of prevalence, along with more background on the study:

Greenough 2012 Prevailing Storylines Study - Click to view/download
Greenough 2012 Prevailing Storylines Study - Click to view/download

Why should this matter to businesses? It shows that business storytelling isn’t just art; there is clearly some science to it as well.  Companies looking to tell better stories will be more successful if they understand the prevailing archetypes that seem to resonate with journalists. If media are drawn to similar narratives over and over again, recognizing where your brand fits, and where you want it to fit, is key. That’s precisely the direction we take our clients.

These 10 prevailing storylines are only part of the larger brand storytelling process, but they serve as an umbrella under which we assemble other necessary elements of business storytelling, from news to feature pieces and much more. Great storytelling is far from easy, but it’s much less daunting when you understand that not all stories are created equal. Some resonate more with readers, so naturally journalists return to these narratives as well.

Video: Greenough Puts Storytelling to the Test

Your brand’s story undoubtedly fits into one or more of these prevailing storylines.  Whether you think it is a “Best Kept Secret” or “David and Goliath” or anything in between, our “2012 Prevailing Storylines Study” can serve as a guide to help you develop a rich, powerful and compelling brand story to share.

So what’s your brand story?

Andrea LePain is Vice President, Media Relations at Greenough. Follower her on Twitter: @alepain