4DStory offers a whole new platform for Storytelling through Content Marketing and Joe Pulizzi, Founder of Content Marketing Institute, drives home his point about the importance of finding a new way to tell a story in this short post from his newsletter.
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A Note from Joe Pulizzi
There Are No New Stories
I’m a huge fan of Lin-Manuel Miranda. You might know him from his recent Grammy win for Best Musical Theater Album for the musical, Hamilton. With all due respect to Lady Gaga, Hamilton stole the show by performing the song, Alexander Hamilton, at the 2016 Grammy Awards.
I’ve known about Miranda since I saw his first musical In the Heights in 2010. Over the past 15 years I’ve seen nearly 100 different musicals, and In the Heights is my favorite by far. You might call it an obsession, actually — I know just about every word from every song by heart.
In researching Miranda, I wanted to find what has made his work so successful; specifically, how did Miranda decide to tell two stories — one of an entrepreneur in In the Heights and one of Alexander Hamilton in Hamilton — that have been told hundreds of different times by other people?
In an article in Smithsonian Magazine, Miranda talks about how his storytelling was influenced by the people he met and by the streets he grew up on. To put it simply, he created content based on what he knew; on things he knew perhaps better than anyone else. At the same time, Miranda had a passion for hip-hop. It was that mixture that created a different storytelling lens.
I often refer to the content tilt. Similarly, Andrew Davis calls this “The Hook”: a simple twist on a familiar theme designed to entrap or ensnare your audience. If Miranda just told the entrepreneurial story (á la In the Heights) in the same way as every other musical or production, it would never have hooked the audience. The same goes for Hamilton. That story has been told hundreds of times since Hamilton died. And, in general, stories of people reaching for their dreams have been told thousands of times.
Manuel specifically asked the question, “How do we tell this story in a different way?” This is the point at which we should always start our content creation process. Odds are the content you are creating is a story that has been told by someone else before… probably many people, in fact — some successfully and others not. Creating content that is “a little better” than what someone else has done will not even get you out of the starting gate today.
I believe this is why Miranda has been so successful. Because he found a different way to tell his story, his audience listens and watches and believes it’s a truly unique story, even though it’s one that has been told a million times before. That is the genius of content marketing, and it’s where your genius should lie.
So ask yourself, is there one thing that you can do to tilt your story in such a way that people perceive it as something new? Maybe it’s in your tone, or in your confidence, or in the form it takes, or in the way it’s being delivered.
Your story is not unique, because there are no new stories. But how you decide to tell that story can be incredibly new and unique. Only when you acknowledge that this is the truth and realize that what you are creating is not original can you strive toward the new.
Yours in content,
Content Marketing Institute