“The art of storytelling can help companies persuade and inspire more effectively” was the message in Financial Times, September 27 this year. Sounds correct! However, the article could as well add that storytelling is also an important tool for places to communicate and inspire their target groups.
In the context of places I have always used to call the art of storytelling: “placetelling”. Complex organisations such as places – i.e. cities or regions – nuture from inspiring “placetelling”, where the sense of the place is made viable. It is also a matter of differentiation where the “placetelling” is the tool to communicate the ethos of the place in an intelligent manner. That is indeed an challenging art.
Financial Times refers to Stephen Denning, who have published five books on leadership and storytelling. The FT author quotes Denning: “If you think of all the great religious leaders, philosophers, generals, leaders, what do they have in common? They were all great storytellers”.
My experience is that successful place managers have also a sophisticated talent for “placetelling”. Not long ago I met the place manager number one in a small mountainous village in Turkey. The name of this remote and unique place is Tarakli. His “placetelling”, exerted during only one hour, was so professional that I will never forget the place. I have also continued to circulate his stories to my friends.
The trend towards “Slow City Living” is something that is popping in various forms in Europe and the US. In Tarakli the slow city ingredients are packaged beyond the expected standards. The “placetelling” focuses on all types of slow life and how it can be enjoyed in one and the same place. Consequently, he promised me that all alarm clocks were abandoned in the households! “You see, here we want to relax in the mornings – but we stay up in the nights instead and tell stories”. What a surprising story! What a tempting life, perhaps. At least you will never forget the visual attraction factor: no alarm clocks.
The positive point here is that “placetelling” is something that can be trained. What you need as place manager is a place context upon which the place story is based.
In summary the following recommendations are useful:
A place brand where certain attraction factors can make the messages viable.
Your “placetelling” must be relevant and in line with the mood of the audience.
There must be a unique dimension in the “placetelling”.
Make sure that you can show your own passion in the “placetelling”.
All “placeteeling” should be concentrated.