Words That Change

Making stories happen

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Welcome > Stories > Messages are becoming stories

Messages are becoming stories

It came as a nice surprise to hear news that Google’s new penguin algorithm was a further step to supporting content quality. For a business that always advises content quality over noise creation, it seemed that the strategy of both Google’s and ourselves are quite in line.

My thinking has always been that businesses that produce excellent quality words win over the long term. Over time they become figures of authority and gain trust from their clients. If you believe we are in a knowledge economy, being a supplier in any sector requires that people can trust that you know what you are talking about. If you believe we are in a value-based economy – and I believe this is most strongly emerging but not yet dominant – your customers want stories that show how you demonstrate and understand your company values. All of this takes writing.

Fast-burn vs slow release (+ a digression into social economics)
The world, it is over-declared, is speeding up. The imprints on our attention need to be high-impact and easily digestible. However, my outlook has always been counter-cyclical. I am astonished by the need to create and burn huge amounts of information and I am not sure it presents value to the customer. My feeling is that – being a disciple of Karl Polanyi – as soon as an undesirable trend is revealed society organises a decentralised response. Polanyi’s example was the market system being enforced in the 19th century, which he claims gave rise to the extraordinary social reforms of the late 19th century that led to improved working conditions and sanitation. For the information overload we are already organising a response: slowing down and focusing.

Part of the issue with the information overload is that it seems to prize shallowness. Sites such as Gawker and 9gag have brightened many of my days but the fast-burn mentality leaves a pain on the retina, and enjoyment which is usually waist high. My impression is that people are investing ever more in higher quality, sparser viewing times. They will read fewer sites but be prepared to allocate time to ones they value and prize. This is reflected in a number of assignments. Clients are looking for higher value more substantial work that will not just fill a page and communicate quickly, but communicate deeply and substantially. Messages need to be back up with stories, deep thinking needs to underlay sound bites and status updates. For someone has been accused of being a dichter and a denker, this makes me both giggly and wrigglesomely delighted.

How Google swung it
My clients are unbelievably SEO savvy. They are tracking movements and trends closely. What Google has been able to do is create a powerful way to show how a person is an authority on a subject. Huge linkback operations and false blogs no longer work, nor will content repeated over several platforms. It is the quality and shareability that counts. So increasingly, businesses are being asked to produce timely, relevant content that not only highlights business activity but inspires people – that makes them a happy participant in the community of that business. In short, it will make them a storyteller of the values that company embodies.

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