Storytelling

Funny thing about serendipity, it happens all the time. Like oxygen, it is all around, and we breathe it in and breathe it in, and breathe it in. Serendipity is no less rare than getting up in the morning and starting your day off with a cup of coffee, or three if you’re like me. Here’s the thing. If you are tuned into having a mindset that welcomes whatever happens next, then whatever does happen next should not surprise you.

Often called coincidence, events align. There’s a culmination of like subjects, common themes or repetitive messages in one’s life that makes one believe such circumstances are strangely uncanny. It could not have been planned so it has to be sheer coincidences. Right? Not really. If we have already set the dial to receive then there shouldn’t be any surprises when occurrences happen. The reoccurrence of a particular idea that has been floating about in our thoughts or weighing on our hearts is actually sending out a frequency to the universe – a principal theme in The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. We have this energy that transmits, and the frequency of that energy will resonate outward and attract a reciprocal response. Like a magnet. How it works and why is outside the scope of this blog. Scientists and spiritualists that can explain in far more compelling detail. All I am here to proclaim is that in my recent experiences since the Master’s studies in PR began, a common thread weaves through my research and in the information I receive. Either I receive it through a message transmitted by someone else or by a reference that leads to another body of literature or scholarly work. One reference will focus on a topic that stresses a point and that point will be repeated elsewhere in a presentation, a source online in a publication or a face to face encounter with an individual you never anticipated meeting. Case in point. Storytelling.

Since I began reading Mastery by Robert Greene, I  have stood firm in my belief that my calling lies in storytelling. It has always been a passion since a child. Here is how it ties together with this week’s PR assignment. Course #2 commenced on the 19th.  A classmate, Carmeyia, poster her discussion with reference to Mitch Albom, famously known for his bestseller, Tuesday’s with Morrie. In the reference Carmeyia shared, I found the series of interviews with Albom in which he discusses the essential criteria of storytelling. That happens on a Wednesday. Friday, I attend a CPRS professional development session and there among the many presenters are two amazing storytellers. The keynote presenter to kick of the day is Tamara Taggart. She tells a compelling, heartfelt person story about her rise in media and TV broadcasting and then her sudden release (read: fired) from CTV not long after battling a rare form of cancer.

Dr. Terry Flynn is the second to last presenter of the day and also shares a compelling and personal story that involves a tragedy of a terrible sort as well. Fortunately, both storytellers have a reasonably happy ending to share.  Unlike Taggart who’s profession is media, Flynn, has a long and extensive history on the other side of the spectrum. He is a PR practitioner and a scholar. Yet Flynn referenced Taggart for having an incredible talent that communicators must consider if they want to change behavior, shape opinions or attitudes. The ability to tell stories.

Albom states in his series of interviews arrange by Gagen MacDonald PR firm that great stories have a soul, they have a purpose and if you want to move people with your stories, you have to find the “universal trait” that makes the story relatable. In the marketing mix, product promotion is cleverly executed when the seller can tell a story through advertising that is relatable, thereby motivating a potential purchaser to buy that product. Volkswagen cleverly weaved storytelling into their one minute and thirty-second  Polo Dad commercial and the Darth Vader commercial.

So what does this have to do with serendipity? Catherine Hedrich brings the “moral of the story” full circle. She was my next serendipitous moment of the week and summarizes astutely what I have been feeling of late. Connecting creates synergy. We find like-minded individuals who are, in reality, our tribe. Like me, Catherine is a communicator but with more experience. She understands implicitly the value that collaboration has in our line of work. It starts with listening to others tell their story and then finding a link that will lead to another opportunity. We are connectors. If you want to understand the vital role of a connector, well that’s another story. Here’s a hint, Maxwell Gladwell, The Tipping Point.

Image (Source Mary Lee): Dr. Terry Flynn presents at the CPRS-VI Beyond the Hype seminar on his research about storytelling and how it can help shape and change attitudes, opinions, and behavior. 

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