What's the story with storytelling?

Once upon a time, storytelling was cool.

Lately however, especially when it comes to content for comms, some people reckon storytelling no longer leaves them with that “happily ever after” feeling.

Sure, we can all laugh when subjects supposedly full of meaning become fodder for meme-ing. Such as:

Very Media blog storytelling 1

Ouch! Mind you, it’s ironic that the creator of this meme should choose an image from the movie Pulp Fiction, the title of which is inspired by a hugely successful form of storytelling that arose in the first half of the 20th Century.

As The Vintage Library describes it, pulp fiction comprised “fantastic, escapist fiction for the general entertainment of the mass audiences” and was “a breeding ground for creative talent which would influence all forms of entertainment for decades to come”.

Very Media blog storytelling 2

Sounds pretty good to us. Just saying.

Anyway, is it really true that storytelling is so on the nose? According to this snippet at Splash Copywriters

“Storytelling has become one of those horrid overused boardroom cliches that everyone thinks they understand … but, in reality, few actually do.”

Ouch again, although perhaps the truth is not quite so clear-cut.

Yes, the constant use of “storytelling” as a description of what we do as communicators can become too much.

But no, that does not detract from the act or function of storytelling itself, both of which remain as vital as ever.



There is a famous story often attributed to author Ernest Hemingway, who it is said once bet a group of friends that he could craft an entire novel in just six words.

With the wagers in the pot, Hemingway wrote – “For sale, baby shoes, never worn” – then duly collected his winnings. Rightly so, because what a story it tells; what a masterpiece it is.

Another famous story – War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy – unfolds well beyond six words to approach almost 600,000. Yet like Hemingway’s, not a word is wasted. It too is a masterpiece.

The lesson is that the length of a story means nothing. It’s the depth that means everything.

This certainly applies to the work we do as corporate communicators and, as demonstrated by the examples gathered here – best corporate storytelling – the effect can be inspiring.

We also like this piece of wisdom from Storytelling People:

“Storytelling is essential for human life. Stories enable people to give meaning to their existence, pass on knowledge, change behaviour and understand their history and future.”

OK, even if we do use the word “storytelling” too much, being annoyed with the word doesn’t belittle the overall concept, does it?

We say never mind the buzzword, because when it’s done well you can still deliver, and enjoy, a huge buzz out of storytelling.


Written by Michael Jacobson, Editorial Director, Very Media.

At Very Media we believe that effective communication is all about the story.  And it’s crucial to have a skilled storyteller. With our expertise, we can work with you to shape and share ‘your story’ no matter the scale of your project or the platform you choose.