Category Archives: Stroytelling

How My Grandad Awoke My Passion For Storytelling And Video Making

To me, storytelling and video making are two of the strongest instruments in life, and thus in communication and marketing. Images alone are already eye catchers, but video is much more likely to be clicked and shared. Video, music and a good story are such a powerful combination. According to a recent article by Ginny Soskey on HobSpot “visual content works.” And further: “For example, in just one month after the introduction of Facebook timeline for brands, visual content — photos and videos — saw a 65% increase in engagement.” My passion for visuals, however, have an entirely emotional and personal reason. I’d done image movies with a professional film team before. But this is an entirely different story.opaoma

I really discovered video making in 2010. It was the year of my Grandad’s 85th birthday, and I was thinking about what to give him. He always was a very humble man. Grandad was born during World War I and survived World War II injured, unfortunately with his beloved brother gone missing. He had also survived the German Democratic Republic, where people were kept from freedom and their own opinions. Hence, every day in freedom was a gift to him. If you asked him, what he wanted, he’d answer: “I don’t want anything. I don’t need anything.”

We made a movie about his life

It was my genius husband, who came up with the idea of making a movie about his life, family and friends. Until then, we both had no experience with professional movie making, but I loved the idea instantly.

I started gathering photos from my Grandad and from family members. I asked my family to send us movies and greetings by video. Then we started cutting, steeling a bit from professional movies (after all, it was just for private use), even more cutting and adding music (obviously professional music, but it was all kept private), until we travelled to visit him already one week prior to his birthday. Since he was already very ill and sadly couldn’t leave the house anymore, we visited his friends and recorded their greetings and wishes as well. We secretly “stole” many of his photographs from his childhood and teenage years, photographed them with a professional camera, “photoshoped” them and incorporated them into the movie. We spent the days with him and the nights in front of our computer that we’d taken with us.

His gift was a remote control

On the day of his 85th birthday, we gave him his remote control, wrapped in gift paper. We had sneaked the CD with the movie on into his DVD player in advance. I still remember his puzzled look. We asked him to play it, and he pressed the button…

I have never seen my Grandad crying. When my Grandma passed away, who he had looked after for many years while she was ill, he was as brave as always. Only when he watched the movie in silence, tears were running down his cheeks. And us? His small family was sitting in front of the telly, watching the video, watching him, everyone sobbing and laughing in unison.

We turned our life and the world outside his little room into movies for him

Shortly after Christmas my Grandad fell over in his small apartment. He couldn’t get up by himself anymore. Hence, he agreed to move in with my auntie, who looked after him 24/7 and really devoted even more of her time to him, as she’d already done before. My husband and I drove up to East Germany to see him. We decided to leave our iPad with him, which we’d prepared with some entertainment apps, including his own movie. From time to time, we made new movies to share our life in Switzerland with Grandad, and to bring the outside world into his little room he was trapped in. We sent them via e-mail, so he could watch them on the iPad. All the technology was an entire new world for him, but he managed. He enjoyed the movies, and when we were speaking on the phone, no matter how much pain he suffered, he was as always good-humoured and cheered us up.

He also played his movie every single day according to my aunt. Several times. Until one day, he was too weak to eat, to speak, and to watch. He passed away, listening to the music of his movie, which had been the story of his life.


The 3 Topics that Work Best with Social Media

Steer your communication  in a way that people develop trust and follow  you

Steer your communication in a way that people develop trust and follow you. Picture by Carlos Lopez-Barillas, 2013

In my last post I mentioned how important the analytical part and a strategy is to enter the social media playground.

Once you have done that, you need to create relevant content that is in line with your social media and overall marketing/communication strategy. Everyone, who has done PR knows that you can’t always wait for your company to go through major events. You need to create events that you can turn into stories.

Independent of your strategy and your communication tools, here are the topics that work best in a social media context:

News, news, news. Yes, brand new news. Everyone within the social media world wants to be first to share news. This way, they have a chance to be a leader within their respective communities. They profit from your ability to develop news will create loyal followers.

Humor. Good, intelligent humor is a pretty good warrant for liking and sharing. However, it needs to fit into your overall strategy and tonality. If you manage to deliver your message with humor, you’ll be able to generate likes and fans.

Social or green marketing as a campaign empowers you for brilliant social media content. Social media is about people with visions and values. They are not only customers. They are in the center of your communication and marketing efforts. Hence, create content that is social, emotional and easy to like. Be careful with political topics. They can become a torpedo, but difficult to control.

As for your brand equity, it is important that you embed your brand message into these topics. Finally, don’t forget to measure your results.

Overall, aim to inspire and to make your brand leader of its category!

Once Upon a Time – Storytelling

Emotions are the key to your customers’ hearts and to selling. But why can you show ads on TV and print brochures with fantastic pictures, and still it isn’t enough to truly engage your customer? Some people can often remember brilliant ads, but not its brands or senders. This fact results from too short stories and missing inks to the (visualized) brand.

I find storytelling a really powerful instrument to evoke emotions in your target groups. Not only in conversations or presentations, but particularly in marketing. A story brings your brand to life. People will remember the sender better, because of the emotions they felt. Just watch how people wake up in a presentation, when you start: “Let me tell you a story…” These are magic words. Try it out.

I found a very good article about storytelling on the Dutch website, where the author Lieuwe Ramaker gives some useful tips on how to tell a good story:

  • Use one or more characters the recipient can sympathize with. This can be a person, an animal or even an object. Consider not to choose the most obvious character.
  • Transfer your audience into the time and to the venue, where the story takes place.
  • There is often a conflict, which starts the action. The protagonist must overcome an obstacle.
  • Be clear about the plot: the story must lead somewhere, it must show development.
  • Stories often refer to universal themes like fear, pride, passion, happiness, love, etc.

Keep the story short and use short sentences as well as easy to understand words, to keep momentum. If you can visualize your story with a movie, you can obviously tell it in greater length and share it easily.

Now, enjoy this lovely example, Lieuwe Ramaker also refers to in his article: