Stories inside a Story

Cannibalized Stories

RampageWhen I go to see a movie, I play a small game.  The game is called, “Find the hidden stories within the story.”  It’s simple, all you have to do to play the game is find a story from the past that seems to have been slipped into the present story—kind of a mosaic of stories cannibalized to make a new-old one.  Rampage is one of those stories.

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It highlights the fears of the 1950’s when atomic energy was more feared than appreciated.  Most Sci-Fi movies in the 50’s had monsters or giant bugs that were created from atomic isotopes.  “Beginning of the end” (1957), centered on giant grasshoppers that eventually attack Chicago.  Where the 1954, “Them,” had giant ants that attacked the sewer system of Los Angeles.

The list of giant insect horror movies seemed to follow the same pattern.

forbidden-planet-robby-the-robot-1956_a-G-9343170-8363144Rampage (2018) has giant animals but in the 21st Century they weren’t created by atomic isotopes, we have evolved into genetic research and experimentation.  We can now make any creature our ID, a word that comes from the 1956 movie, “Forbidden Planet.”  It stood for the subconscious.  Since today’s genetics scientists don’t have a conscience in what they are playing with, there is no limit to the number of creatures and stories that can be created.

mighty1Rampage also has elements from another era—the 1940’s.  In 1949, a film called, “Mighty Joe Young,” which was a take-off of the 1933, “King Kong.”  Mighty Joe Young is about a young woman who befriends a giant ape in Africa.  Rampage, on the other hand, has a primatologist who befriends an albino ape he saved while in Africa.

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But it doesn’t stop there.  Like the H.G. Wells story, “War of the Worlds,” nothing seems to be able to stop the giant creatures as they descend on Chicago.  I find it interesting that the three cities most adopted to get attacked by creatures or aliens seems to be Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York.  How would the story change if aliens or giant creatures attacked Madison, Wisconsin, Greenville, South Carolina, or San Jose, California?

Isn’t it amazing that all the military power that can take down a country can’t take down a giant animal or insect?  And, like most of stories, the military always has an atomic weapon, I guess a trump card from the 1950’s to wipe out the creature(s) and the whole city.  But wait, we won’t have to do that.  Why?  Because there is always one individual who has been studying the creature and knows the weak spot.  Shakes of Smoke, the Dragon in, “The Lord of the Rings.”  There is always one plate, one Achilles hill, that can take down the enemy.

And our protagonist, who can be a young boy to a young girl, a student, or a librarian intern, always has studied the problem more than the experts and will be responsible for delivering the final blow.  It’s all part of the pattern of The Hero’s Journey—You got to love it!

Storyteller Secrets

Digital Storytelling-P3

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The rules for digital stories have changed.  Story themes that go viral have created a new set of rules.  But the first rule that still applies--is your story compelling?  The six elements that work together to make this happen are: the message, content, visual images, color, action and timing.

Timing is more than the length of the story, it also represents viewer’s attention.  This is one reason I keep my daily blogs down to 500 words, that is about 2-minutes of reading  time out loud.  My blog competes with thousands of other blogs for not just your attention–but your time.

Digital stories have more elements to combine than regular storytelling, so the timing is very important in both presentation and delivery.  I cannot emphasize enough that a digital story should be created and developed on a storyboard—yesterday’s lesson.  A storyboard helps to craft and develop how the six elements bring continuity and appeal to attract visitors to your site.

Remember, that it is the message not the story you are really trying to deliver.  If this is a strategic story then the message has a call to action for a response step.  It all begins with your script.  Scripts are generally written in font 12 and double spaced.  Depending on the script, one page formatted in this matter could be equal to one-minute or more.

An actor can be a narrator’s voice, an actual person, an animated character, or even an object.  The story will have a certain pace to emphasize points towards your message.  Back in the 1980’s, John Moschitta, made several commercials for different companies.  He was known as the fastest speaker on record.  Here is an example of a 1980, 30-second commercial he made.

The fast pace kept the viewer’s attention because it motivated the listener to pay attention to the words.  Had John spoke at a normal speed this probably would have been a one-minute commercial.  The hook was John’s pace and lack of pauses, it forced the listener’s attention and was quite successful.

When to release your story is another timing issue.  If your digital story is for brand marketing or sales then Thursday’s and Sundays are the best days to reach customers surfing on the Net.  If your story pertains to a current event then releasing the story as soon as possible will be important.  Adding twitter hash marks will help . During the day, the best times for release are between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on the West Coast.  These times will vary across the world depending on highest commuter traffic.

Rehearsal is probably the last important key to timing.  I enjoy the character Data, an android character, on the Star Trek Next Generation series.  In this clip, Data is trying out his joke to Guinan (played by Woopie Goldberg).  What this clip will illustrate is that you can have quality material, but if timing is off, you lose reliability.  In humor that’s the punch line.  In Digital Storytelling that’s your message.

Strategic Story

Strategic Storytelling-Branding 2

After yesterday’s Story-branding, I decided to look for videos that could be critiqued and even possibly improved if they were changed to a story.  It didn’t take long for me to find one.  Before I say anymore, look at this Real Estate video.

 

 

The video was published on July 20, 2017.  The message for this video was to announce a First-Time Home-buyers Seminar that was scheduled for August 16, 2017.  The message took 10-seconds.  So, first let’s go over what’s wrong with this video.

First, it should have already been taken down after Aug. 16th.   This is out dated information.

Humor is a great attention grabber IF it makes a point–this one didn’t.  This group is hosting a First-Time Home-buyers Seminar.  What will be discussed?  What do I need to know in order to buy my first home?  What will I get out of this seminar when I leave?  Of course, none of these questions were asked.  What I observed were five well-dressed RE agents doing out-of-date 1980 dancing in the lobby of their office.  Here is an alternative for a one-minute story presentation.

INT.  KITCHEN   {Wife hands a letter to her husband}

HUSBAND

                                                  What’s this?

WIFE

Our rent is being increased again

HUSBAND

[ANGRY AND FRUSTRATED]

{Reads the letter and then crumbles it up and throws it into the trash}

This is never going to stop.  If we owned a home, like our parents, we would be better off.  But I just don’t think we can afford it.

WIFE

I’m not sure if we could even qualify.  They go by credit scores and how much money you got in the bank.

HUSBAND

I’ve gone online, but there just too much information and education to figure it all out.  I just wish we knew someone we could talk to.

INT.  [CAMERA PANS TO RIGHT] TO RE AGENT BEHIND THE COUPLE.  CAMERA ZOOMS IN SLOWLY ON AGENT AS HE SPEAKS.

AGENT

Let us help you answer these and other questions you might have at our free First Time Home-buyers Seminar.  Come with your concerns and questions and you’ll leave not only with answers, but who knows, maybe with an idea where you might just buy your first home.  Let us be your guide and take you through the steps.  We’re here for you.

A window to click to reserve your free seats could have helped in getting customer information.  This group overlooked several opportunities to collect intel and future leads.

Now, let’s end with this advertisement for Ubiquity World Network.  Remember Hitchcock on the visuals setting the tone, communicating the message, and transferring the emotions.  You will find all three in this one-minute clip.  I especially enjoyed the transitions between scenes.  This is not hard to do, it just takes time to plan it out.  The story has a beginning with the architect designer, how the company differs from cable companies, and ends with a united family using the Net.

 

AfterEffects software can do both these transitions and animations.  Worth thinking about.

Storyteller Secrets, Strategic Story

Strategic Storytelling-Branding 1

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Strategic Stories can be transmitted through a variety of presentation formats.  Today, we will look at Story Branding.  You find this format mostly on Websites to Social Media.  Digital Storytelling should be kept at the 1 – 3-minute mark, beyond three minutes takes more creativity to keep the viewer to the end.

The two stories that follow is a second level of Strategic Storytelling we call, “ Storytelling Branding.”

Patek Philippe’s one minute commercial creates both the brand and image by using visual metaphors.  The black and white photography creates an air of sophistication and drama.  The video highlights five major cities that represent the five major UTC Time Zones.   Each time zone is equal to 10-seconds of video time.  In each of the five segments an adult is wearing a Patek Philippe watch, and the adult is always paired with a son or daughter image.   The last ten seconds explains the whole message: “You never actually own a Patek Philippe, you merely look after it for the next generation.”  This is more than just a watch to tell time, it is an investment in technology and fine art.  The music is soft, classical, and subtle.   It ends with, “Begin your own tradition.”  The Brand is set like a museum piece of fine art and the whole video plays into this concept.

 

 

The second commercial says absolutely nothing about the product, “Red Bull Stratos.”  The video was edited down to 1:30 minutes.   It is the historical documented highest free-fall jump ever done—24 miles in altitude.  The video went viral and has been seen more than 41,500,000 million times. The only brand icon visible was on top of the parachute.  Brilliant!  Red Bull, in the past has spent over $75 million per year advertising and marketing its product in the U.S.  However, the viral video, “Red Bull Stratos,” rose sales 17% to $1.6 billion dollars in the United States. Globally the company sold 5.2 billion cans, which was a 13% increase.  Red Bull’s slogan: ‘Red Bull gives you wings’.

 

Storytelling Branding has a beginning, middle, and end.  It differs from Strategic Storytelling, which is more of a persuasive argument.  The purpose of branding is to identify your product-service customer’s values.  If done correctly, the story will do most of the work.  Story Branding must build trust, confidence, and inspire emotion.  Without the emotional element, the story will end when the video ends.  Shut the sound off and see the video again, and then think about what Alfred Hitchcock once told his apprentice.  He said, “Even if they shut off the sound to my movies, the images will still deliver the message and emotions.”  This is good advice when developing your video storyboard.

Images must convey meaning through their actions and expected emotional response.  Background music should never over power, but act more as a supporting actor.  The story must lead the viewer to a conclusion on your Brand’s strength: Trust, Confidence, Reliability, or Leadership.  Which of these two videos would you use as your branding template?

 

Strategic Story

What is Strategic Storytelling-Part 5

Yesterday, we talked about how to build up curiosity as a hook to grab a reader’s attention.  Now that you got the attention it’s time to tell the story.

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There are several books teaching storytelling for business; storytelling your brand; storytelling your personal story available for purchase.  They all present the elements of storytelling:  Theme, plot, setting, character development, conflict, and tone.

Strategic Storytelling uses a persuasive argument in a story format to engage and motivate the reader towards a specific action.  Unfortunately, that is not what these books are teaching.  They are teaching their readers how to develop a story script.  I feel as I’ve returned to my English 101 high school class to learn writing comprehension—not persuasive arguments.  So, what does a Strategic Story look like?  Let’s look again at Droiple’s story and break it down.

Droiple doesn’t begin their story with their history, victories, and awards. They start off with identifying the clients present concern, anxiety, or fear in investing more money into a market that continues to change and fluctuate daily:

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“You want more paying customers but you’re afraid your marketing won’t work and you’ll lose money.”

The analytics say you are getting the clicks, so where are the customers?  If you got them to visit your site how come they aren’t following through to the last step?

“When a potential customer visits your website they’re interested in your products or services and should become your customer, right? But they don’t, why not? It happens because life’s busy and they need a reminder that they’re interested in doing business with you.”

This next agreement step is important because it builds a relationship of understanding.  It’s your money and time and you are not getting what you paid for.  Let us help show you how to lead the same customers that drifted away back to you.

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“You invest time & money to get potential customers to your website, only to see them drift away & simply forget about your business. Don’t let this happen anymore. We’ll help your business turn website visitors into paying customers.”

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“The process is called re-marketing. It’s affordable and you need to start doing it. Otherwise you are losing business.”

The story ends with light at the end of the tunnel.  This process will not only make money for you but also act as marketing insurance (a visual analogy).

“Re-marketing will make you more money and protect you from losing customers. It’s like marketing insurance.”

So, let’s summarize the major points:

  1. Identify the needs, problems, fears or anxieties of the client.
  2. Identify the frustrations the client has already experienced.
  3. Build a relationship of empathy and goodwill.
  4. Introduce your solution to your client’s need or solution desired.
  5. End as a mentor\guide with the assurance you have what the client needs.

Remember, the Strategic Story is not about you, it’s about building a relationship with your client. Identifying client fears and their needs.  Do you have any questions?  Let me know.  I’m also available for private consultation.

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Strategic Story

What is Strategic Storytelling-Part 4

The Strategic Story has four main steps: Hook, Story, Benefits, and Action.  Let’s begin at the end–Action.  The action is the purpose of a Strategic Story; you want somebody to click on a button, vote in your favor, surrender information, call a number, or buy something. 

51T1SeT4LRL._SX345_BO1,204,203,200_ Moving one step back, in order to get your audience attention to act, you  need—Benefits! There should not be no more than three benefits listed.   Listing too many benefits falls under the snake oil medicine show.  In case you don’t understand the term “Snake Oil,” it was a bottle filled mostly with alcohol with a few herbs and spices added to it.  It promised a list of cures (Benefits) from removing dandruff to curing cancer.  If you have a list of benefits choose only the top three benefits your product or service offers.

curThe Story Step  drives the benefits.  I will spend more time discussing this tomorrow.  Today, I want to discuss the most important element—The Hook!  Here are two facts you might already know:

 1.     98% of Website Traffic Doesn’t convert on the first visit.

2.    Web customers may spend, on average, anywhere from under 10 seconds to 1 minute viewing a site for the first time.

 

 Let’s do an experiment.  I promise nothing bad will happen.  Let’s pretend you are looking for a car to buy online.  You have heard of Nissan and typed it into google.  Up pops Nissan.com.  If you click on this website, it will take you to Nissan Technology.  A company not associated with Nissan at all.  They sell computer internet services and unfortunately are now being sued by Nissan for name rights.  Your interest, cars, was not at this site.  You return to Google.  This is a good example of the 10 Second Under Rule.

Droiple, on the other hand, is an online marketing company.  I know the owner, Jess Walters, who is brilliant at what he does in getting customers through re-marketing.  Look at his site. Droiple.com.  He starts off with Fact #1 and adds, “you’re losing business without re-marketing.”  He is creating curiosity.  This is the key element to the hook. 

Curiosity

Thomas Hobbs, a 16th Century philosopher said, “Curiosity is the lust of the mind,” and he wasn’t far off from the truth.  In the diagram above items #1 & #2 are part of the brain’s reward system:  Pleasure and satisfaction.   Eating chocolate or having sex activates these parts of the brain.  #3 deals with having positive feelings in requiring new knowledge.

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 Curiosity has been driving force in every new innovation discovery, and invention.  So, how do you create curiosity?  

I’ll tell you Friday!

 That’s one way of doing it.  Building up the suspense and then creating an action that both satisfies the customer’s benefits and their curiosity.  Master curiosity and you hold the reigns for control of your market.  In the end, it’s about getting people to move from curiosity to story, story to benefits, and benefits to action that’s what Strategic Story is all about.

Curiosity-killed-the-cat-but-satisfaction-brought-it-back.-Eugene-ONeill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

genealogy

Finding the Hidden Story-Location

Time-Traveler-ImageGenealogists are time travelers.  Like playing a game of Clue, they wander through time looking for clues to a family member.  As students of history, they probe dark attics and read dusty documents to find the treasures—Family stories.

Treasure-Chest-borderWe all have a location at birth and will have a final plot marked. But it is the locations between that holds hidden secrets.  Why?  Because, like a treasure map, location marks the spot where treasures can be found.

Did you know people who lived back in the Medieval period rarely traveled more than 25 miles in their entire life time?  This means their culture, traditions, language, religion, and government were well grounded–standardized.  Why is standardization important?  Little or no change.

The more interactions between different peoples and cultures; the more we see technological advancements, social changes, and even language development.  For example, Japan isolated itself for 200 years, starting in 1663. This isolation strengthened traditions, culture, and government structure, which ended in 1863.  Once Japan opened herself up to outside influences, there was immediate cultural changes.  These changes would eventually lead its people into war and almost total annihilation.

ohio-amish-stock-photoBut even in the United States we have settlements, like the Amish, who still maintain a strong culture and community.  Even in the 21st Century, amidst all the technology development around them, the Amish have been able to maintain a separate cultural time capsule.

America in the 19th Century, also called the Industrial Revolution, saw a lot of movement from farm and rural communities into city life where jobs were more available.  It should be noted that the farm and rural community culture also followed its people into the city.

After WWII, we see whole populations on the move. From around the country, people were on the move.  The automobile became an important commodity as well as a status symbol.  People from rural areas moved into cities; while people from cities moved to the suburbs.

My point in all of this is, as we get closer and closer to our present time, populations are more in movement than any other time in history. On the other hand, as we move back through time, we have better opportunities in establishing groundwork for stories.

Moving back, we can access small-town newspapers where birth announcements, marriages and obituaries are available; In addition, we get insights to yearly town events and traditions.  Society columns also lend interesting insights to individual lives.

Local biographies, letters, and official legal documents also give insights to culture, society, and micro-chronologies on individual lives.  The good news is many of these newspapers have been digitized and can be found online.  Many of these copies have been taken from older forms of analog copies that came in three formats:  Microfilm, microfiche, and aperture cards.

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Microfilm was photographed onto reels of film, Microfiche were flat sheets of photographed film, and aperture cards were punch cards with a chip of microfilm mounted.  The past awaits with anticipation if you know the location.