FPRA 2013 Annual Conference: Breakout 5A, Storying, Bob Allen
By Amanda Fliger
Storying: Making Real Stuff with The Power of Story
After spending more than 25 years with the Walt Disney Company creating live entertainment theme park experiences, Bob Allen happily admits he applies a “storybook” perspective to approaching life.
Generally, you have eight seconds to capture your audience’s attention before they move on. This “time poverty,” along with the constant need to receive the new, interesting and novel, means our messages are in greater competition for an attentive receiver.
How do we break through and make an impact? Bob says we need powerful stories. Since experience drives brand (not the other way around), “Story Power” has tremendous potential for public relations. Storytelling provides a shared experience but not necessarily the SAME experience—it is filtered through.
To have a successful story, you need the following elements or “Storians:”
- Character (needs to be a bit like your audience, it makes things REAL for audience)
- Plot (establishes the failure/success drivers, the “what happens next?” reason to stay engaged)
- Setting (where did the story take place? This establishes the experiential environment)
- Conflict and Resolution (defines the Hero’s Journey, it provides an arc where a character is changed at the end)
- Emotion (people have to care about your story, it provides the “why”)
- Voice (vessel for the brand)
Putting these components into what Bob calls the “Experience Reactor” (Cultural Envelope, Audience Expectation and Delivery and Context) the audience will be immersed and fully engaged. A great example of this Immersion Experience is looking up at the clock after starting a good book and realizing it’s 3 in the morning.
So now it’s clear why storytelling is such a powerful tool and what elements should be included in a great story. But what tales can we tell?
Bob asserts that it is good to have a purpose when we tell a story. Here are some examples:
- Future stories—visions given substance (what could be)
- Failure stories—reverse engineering
- Heart stories—evoking emotion
- Teaching stories—transmitting knowledge and skill
- Laboratory stories—the story as a stimulator
- Springboard stories—creating change
Embrace your inner storyteller! Make connections and build relationships!
- Know and love your audience (you can’t create a space where a story can be successful otherwise)
- See the world after the story first (start with the end)
- Tell the tale in Kitchen Tables (use the language that real people use)
- Lie with dexterity (richness is more critical than “facts”)
- Be conscious of meta-story (the world at large provides half the tale)
- Weird Works (pick the most non-traditional element of your story and start there)
- Make Pictures (if someone can visualize what you are talking about it makes them more interested and more excited to re-tell your story)
- Make me care (don’t get stuck on statistics, you will lose them every time)
Bob Allen, i.d.e.a.s live ideas innovation studios