The lemmings otherwise known as public relations, advertising and marketing communications executives routinely jump from one buzzword or phrase to another every 18 months or so. Someone will coin a new phrase or service such as disruptor, data analytics, Big Data, behavioral science, digital-driven programs and, of course, Storytelling. And, within a week or so, every marketer in the known universe will be including the hot new word or phrase in every other sentence.
Storytelling was critical to every marketers’ earned, owned and paid media campaign, correct? It had to be because today’s consumer (whether she is a REIT manager or full-time mom) wants to engage with products or services that do the right thing, educate and entertain her and, most importantly, fit within her lifestyle. That objective was accomplished by crisp, clear and compelling storytelling. And, we were all Storytellers.
Mastercard’s just changed the game. They’ve abandoned Storytelling and now focus on Storymaking.
Allow me to allow Mastercard’s CMO Raja Rajamannar to explain: “As recently as a few years ago, people sat in front of a TV, with the whole family gathered during prime time…Today, the world is very different. People still come together in the family room, but it’s a collection of individuals who are all in their own private worlds with their own connected devices.”
So, Mastercard has morphed from Storytelling to Storymaking. They now collaborate with consumers to slice and dice their legendary “Priceless” storytelling campaign to four categories:
- Priceless Surprises, which gives cardholders unexpected experiences, such as meeting celebrities.
- Priceless Cities, which curates one-of-a-kind experiences and exclusive promotions only available to Mastercard cardholders.
- Priceless Causes, which generates donations to particular charities when consumers use their Mastercard.
- Priceless Specials, which provides various offers and benefits.
The fundamental difference between Storytelling and Storymaking, says Rajamannar is this: “Consumers don’t want to hear brand stories; they want to be part of the story. We enable, create and curate experiences for consumers.” That change may seem subtle to some but it’s actually quite profound.
You can read more about Mastercard, Rajamannar and Storymaking here, but, as Sr. Maria Eucharia used to warn my fellow eighth graders at St. Francis Grammar School, “A word to the wise is sufficient.” Get a firm grasp of Storymaking ASAP and figure out how to use it to better connect with your target stakeholders. And, for god’s sake, begin including the word in your agency/internal corporate storytelling and explaining how it’s different and more relevant than yesterday’s buzzword.
Get used to Storymaking. It’s the new orange of marketing communications. That said, be prepared for it to be replaced by the next, new orange in 18 months or sooner.
The Cowboys are breaking records all over the place this season, so my Christmas present came early this year. But the team facilitated a bigger (and much more meaningful) Christmas miracle: a $250,000 spike in donations to The Salvation Army, which will help serve an additional 91,000 meals to people in need.
After rushing two yards for a record-breaking touchdown during the second quarter in last Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott celebrated by jumping into the oversized iconic red kettle behind the end zone. In the two days following Zeke’s leap, The Salvation Army received $850,000 in donations.
But just like every great Christmas story, this one also has a Scrooge. The NFL charged the Cowboys with a 15-yard penalty for “using a prop in a touchdown celebration.” There were also talks of a potential hefty fine for the team. I could go on and on about the ridiculousness of this rule in general, but to penalize the team for drawing attention to a charity during the holidays just screams “bah humbug.”
In response to the potential fine, Elliott said he would match it in a donation to the charity. That must have inspired the NFL’s heart to grow three sizes, because they ultimately decided not to charge a fine. Elliott, however, tweeted that he was donating $21,000 to The Salvation Army regardless, and encouraged his fans to add $21 contributions of their own, which has separately raised about $17,000.
So why was Elliott’s red kettle leap so successful in drawing attention to the cause? One word: authenticity. This wasn’t a pre-planned publicity stunt and it wasn’t sanctioned by either organization involved. Elliott has a genuine passion for this organization. Aside from his public call for donations, he and his teammates volunteered at The Salvation Army in Fort Worth on Thanksgiving. Audiences saw this and were able to relate to—and rally behind—the cause.
I’ve been a proponent of, and practitioner in, citizen journalism for quite some time now.
I believe each, and every, one of us should express our POV EXCEPT when it:
– Espouses a doctrine of hate
– Takes a rigid ‘my way or the highway’ approach
– Regales me with tales of people, places or things that have no relevance in my life.
The latter proliferate at Christmas time in the form of ‘year-end’ family letters.
We all get these. Some come from friends. Others come from family members. The ones I receive almost always come from an acquaintance I once met when Ronald Reagan occupied the White House.
Typically, year-end Christmas letters are written by a member of the distaff side of the family (as in, ‘It was yet another amazing year for Bill, Bill Jr, Little Amy and me. We hope that all of our loved ones have a reason to feel as blessed as we do this Christmas’).
The letters also, always, make a few, mistaken assumptions:
– That I have first-hand knowledge of the protagonists (‘Nicole started a new physical therapy job in November.’ Awesome. Who’s Nicole?).
– That I’ve been following their family’s annual successes and setbacks, and will understand why Danny’s third root canal in as many years is a cause of concern.
– That I’m not appalled by poor grammar and spelling (‘Sebastian would of yelled at the admissions officer but me and Sebby, Sr., didn’t rase our kids to act that way,’).
– That I actually care what happened to these complete strangers (‘Well, after three years of waiting, Ted finally popped the big question to our dear, darling Mary Ellen. Words cannot describe her delight, or ours”).
I have a friend who created her own, faux Christmas family letter. It begins with the salutation: ‘Did you have as amazing a year as our amazing family did? Of course not. How could you? Your family simply isn’t as amazing as ours.’
And, I think that about sums up year-end family letters. They exist for one reason:
– To enable the author to remind herself, as well as her friends and complete strangers like me, how amazing she, and her family, are.
The best citizen journalists know how to engage a reader. One does so by making the written content crisp, concise and compelling.
Citizen Christmas letters, on the other hand, are bloated, befouled by bad grammar and beyond boring.
‘….So, let me tell you about my kids, Chris and Catharine, and the amazing things they accomplished in 2013…’
Join Wayne “Doctor Baseball” McDonnell, Clinical Associate Professor at NYU, Deb ‘PED’ Brown and Steve ‘Juicer’ Cody as they discuss Alex Rodriguez, baseball’s steroid scandal and the Yankees stretch run for the American League East Division crown.
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