« One Word: Plastics | Main | Speech Matters »

01/05/2011 We need more Chief Story Tellers

Face it we love C-Titles. Like most titles, they do little to explain what people actually do, but a lot to define position in the company. So even though I’m not a big fan of C-Titles, I’d like to suggest a new one for 2011. It’s Chief Story Teller (the CST).

When you look at your company or organization, what person is your chief story teller? Which raises the question: what should a chief story teller do, and why do brands need them?

We’re human (most of us, anyway) and humans crave stories. They thrive on them. Stories are what make us human. Brands have always used stories and consumers have needed them to differentiate between brands.


Our social/digital age has put a premium on story telling. Media fragmentation has made it harder to tell stories to many people at one time, but made it a lot easier to tell better, richer and more personal stories. Just look at all of the trend predictions for 2011: almost every one contains a reference to stories.

Which raises the question: who’s the person or group responsible for telling your story? In the past ad agencies filled that role, especially when they told the story in epic (30 second) proportions. But today we crave reality over grandeur, speed over high production value, and personality over polish.

Companies and organizations teem with personal, human stories. Some stories reflect the trials of the founders, others tell how you do your work, others revolve around the lives of employees, and still others describe the experiences of the customers. The only thing getting in the way of telling all of these stories is that almost no one is taking the time to ask the right questions and to listen to the answers. Story telling is the un-tapped gold mine of marketing.

Enter the Chief Story Teller. I envision this position filled by someone who loves hearing stories and retelling them. This person has to have a grand inquisitiveness and desire to connect to other people (both inside and outside of the organization). The role of the Chief Story Teller isn’t to only tell stories about themselves (or the impersonal brand). It’s to become the brand chronicler. The CST has to spend time digging up the stories, and then ensuring that they’re told, and spread, in the right way. 

Without a doubt, the CST has to be a good writer, but you can learn how to do that. The job is part journalist, part historian, with a dash of psychotherapy thrown in for good measure. The CST by nature is a cross-disciplinary position, since stories reside in all nooks and crannies of a brand.

And the CST needs to deliver, through social, earned and even paid media. The CST needs to understand which stories resonate and deliver more of those.

Brands have tiptoed around this, allowing their best social media guru to mantle the role, which usually results in one person telling their story. We need to broaden our vision of the role story plays in an organization. It’s too important to leave to outside consultants.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference We need more Chief Story Tellers:


My Web Sites