Can You Tell Me a Story? SXSWi Day 1 Retrospect

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  • March 10, 2012
  • Starr Million Baker

We’ve talked quite a bit about storytelling lately. It’s always been something we pride ourselves on doing well, it’s the essence of what our business is about (“we are professional storytellers in search of the right words and the right audience for your tale of success”), and it’s hard to do well. At SXSW yesterday, it was the topic of a panel attended by INK’s Jessica Warren. One of her tweets from the mouth’s of one of the panelists stuck in my head – “if it doesn’t offend anyone, it’s not going to excite anyone.”

Let that sink in for a second. It’s not saying “if it doesn’t offend anyone, it’s not a good story.” (That was actually what I thought for quite awhile till I read it again.) Stories aren’t stories without confict. The protagonist needs the atagonist, reporters need the good and the bad, no one writes a 100% glowing story on a company. But is conflict offensive? Does the negative always offend someone? And if a creation story (like how Tabbedout was born from the idea that people like founder Rick Orr shoudn’t have to wait an hour for his tab) doensn’t offend someone is it not exciting? I’m sure Tabbedout’s investors would beg to differ.

So perhaps we don’t need to get offensive to tell a good story, but we do need to start doing a better job of telling engaging stories – those that are interesting for both company and customer, that acknowledge the bad just as they herald the good, those that are INTERESTING. From Jessica’s notes of the panel she attended: “I learned that anyone can tell a great and interesting story – even the ‘most boring’ company or topic. It’s just a matter of finding the right audience, the right message, and the right means to tell it.” That’s what we love to do, and are good at doing – lucky for us, and our clients. More on storytelling as it relates to PR – and as it relates to transparency (storytelling ≠ not telling the truth) – tomorrow.

Other stuff we loved (or not) from SXSWi Day One:

– Um, didn’t love the rain. And the cold. And the rain. WTF, it was 80 last week!?! Did love that everyone seemed to bond over how crappy the weather is.

– Loved David Eagleman’s panel The Secret Lives of the Brain. Learned tha almost everything we attribute to cognition is running under the hood, incognito.

– Happy that the green room looks awesome and is so much fun (see Micaela, Allison and Adrienne hamming it up below), and the Gemalto lounge is rocking.

– Who doesn’t love the people watching? And the running into people you never see in Austin? (Hello Walt Mossberg, middle of the hall, and thanks for the big ol’ hug. :-))

More to come…

Micaela, Allison and Adrienne ham it up in INK green room at SXSWi