Author: Michael Lamb

All great businesses, products and services begin with an even better story

Concept image with What is Your Story printed on an old typewriter

Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of Teesside University students who sit on the DigitalCity Student Board about communications. But the truth is, I’m not a fan of the word communication. Humans tell stories. In fact, storytelling played a key role in our evolution as a species. And in today’s digital world, storytelling is changing and evolving with human culture and technology.

But, in our hyper-connected digital world are we telling better stories than our ancestors? No. Smartphones, tablets and social media have, in my opinion, shackled our ability to effectively share the stories that matter to us. Too many businesses and people have fallen into the trap of broadcasting. They’re posting blogs, posting pictures or sharing videos with little or no thought to their audience.

The inconvenient truth is, for all the huge benefits that digital technology has brought, we’ve let the platforms and devices we love shape the way we connect with our friends, family, colleagues and customers. If your story is important maybe a tweet isn’t enough. How about making a series of videos and then using all of your social networks to share the story? Or, maybe you should get people in a room and let them hear the story together.

Humans love stories and there is a very smart professor from Princeton, Uri Hasson, who has spoken many times on the science of storytelling. And one particular quote has stuck with me. ‘When we tell stories to others that have helped us shape our thinking and way of life, we can have the same effect on them too. The brains of the person telling a story and listening to it, can synchronize.’

Remember that the next time you have a story to tell a friend, colleague or customer.

Is the regional business media working for NEPIC’s members?

I recently returned to the North East having spent 12 years living and working in London and this time next week I’ll be attending my first NEPIC meet the members conference.

A lot has changed since I left but the region’s strong heritage in the process and chemical industries remains. In fact, the majority of the friends I grew up with work in those sectors, and I know about the companies they work for. But no matter the size or the important role they play in driving growth, are these companies featured often enough in the regional business press?

I know the media is having a hard time, both in London and here in the North East, with severe cuts to staffing and massive competition from many digital avenues. I’ve spent my whole career building relationships for my clients with their target audiences. Likewise, my new colleagues at Publicity Seekers who’ve spent the past 10 years working daily with the regional business journalists, understanding their challenges and making the most of opportunities to showcase our clients.

With that in mind, I had a chat with our founder and MD Samantha Lee, who is an ex-journalist with The Mirror, The Express, Gazette and Hartlepool Mail. She’s a journalist at heart and knows the benefits – for both sides – that come when local businesses have a good working relationship with regional media.

From Sam’s journalistic perspective the introduction of digital marketing has blurred the lines for many companies who may not be PR savvy and at times has put too much distance between businesses and local journalists. Some companies now pop their news on their website, Twitter and LinkedIn and expect it to reach their target audiences without actually driving traffic to those articles. It’s like having a party and not sending out the invites but still expecting everyone to come. For many, it seems the days of personal relationships with the local media are a thing of the past.

On the other hand, we’re both experienced enough to know there’s always two sides to every story. Maybe the local media aren’t getting the stories that matter to NEPIC’s members.

At that point we knew there was a number of questions that needed answering. I then spoke with Louise at NEPIC to see how we could get some insights and a better understanding of how we can create a better working relationship between NEPIC’s members and the regional business media.

Following that, we agreed to partner with NEPIC to survey a number of NEPIC’s members. The survey aims to uncover exactly what NEPIC members are reading, what their potential customers and suppliers are reading and how they get their big news stories, case studies and company info in front of the eyes of the people that matter to them.

Similarly we will be surveying the region’s best journalists about our members and asking which companies are PR savvy, what stories they really want to hear about and how they can be working for NEPIC members in a way that will benefit both our companies and the press themselves. After all, it’s a two-way thing.

The report will be available to members at the conference and will give them a view on the business media that matter to NEPIC’s members, what business journalists know about their companies and exactly what kind of news they want from them.

If you’re interested in adding your insights to our research or would like a copy of the report, drop me a line or give me a call: mlamb@publicityseekers.co.uk / 07908 808117