the sally sisson blog

January 24, 2011

The Life (and Death?) of STORYTELLING: Ten top posts of 2010

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image from

Once upon a time… storytelling was the domain of kindergarten classrooms and creative writing courses. Over the past decade it’s found its way into advertising, marketing and business consulting, and countless articles on all of the above.

Stories inspire and connect us. From ancient cave paintings to Super Bowl commercials to transmedia storytelling, they illustrate, resonate and—when done well—stick with us for a long time.

Here are some of my top picks on the topic. Instead of synthesizing what’s already been written so well, I’ll let these speak for themselves.

1. Harvard Business Review: The Power of Storytelling

In a conversation with HBR, Robert McKee, the world’s best-known screenwriting lecturer, argues that executives can engage people in a much deeper—and ultimately more convincing—way if they toss out their PowerPoint slides and memos and learn to tell good stories.

2. Copyblogger: How to Captivate Your Audience with Story (From America’s Greatest Living Playwright)

There’s been a fevered interest in the art of storytelling among the marketing crowd recently. We are told that story—applied to salesmanship, preaching, advertising, conversation, marketing, songwriting, and blogging—contains the power to deliver the world to the deft storyteller’s door. But what is a well-told story? Take a lesson from David Mamet.

3. Chris Brogan: Storytelling for Business

Stories are how we learn best. We absorb numbers and facts and details, but we keep them all glued into our heads with stories.

4. Smashing Magazine: Better User Experience with Storytelling

Our information…has become watered down, cloned, and is churned out quickly in 140-character blurbs. We’ve lost that personal touch where we find an emotional connection that makes us care. Using storytelling, however, we can pull these fragments together into a common thread. We can connect as real people, not just computers.

5. Ten Ways to Story Your Business (or Product or Brand)

Nine wise tips, plus #10: Remember that if you don’t tell your story, your story will probably get told for you—in a way that may damage your business.

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image from
6. Content Rules: What Does Business Have to Do With Storytelling?

The idea of storytelling as it applies to business isn’t about spinning a yarn or fairytale. Rather, it’s about how your business exists in the real world: how people use your products—how they add value to people’s lives, ease their troubles, help shoulder their burdens, and meet their needs.

7. Mark Levy: Telling the Same Story Differently

An insightful post inspired by Matt Madden’s ingenius cartoon book “99 Ways to Tell a Story.”

8. Transmedia Storytelling: The Psychological Power of Story

The ultimate mashup of ancient traditions and new communications models.

9. Harvard Business Review: When Storytelling Isn’t Enough

Fast Company founder Alan Webber says storytelling is overrated and declares, “Content isn’t king, context is king!”

10. Bite: The Death of Storytelling?

“We are all striving to tell stories. But are we making more noise than news?”

What do you think?

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December 8, 2010

Content (and copywriters) are king at Groupon, part 2

Continuing my fixation with the group buying site…

[See part 1:  The Key to Groupon’s Success? A Stable of Great Copywriters]


I know much of the genius has to do with the simple business model, but I remain fixated on the creative. Here’s another article I bookmarked a while back, this one from

Groupon and the value of copywriting

“There is lots of talk of whether Groupon can keep their advantage over new competitors. But the competitors I have seen don’t have the copywriting chops that Groupon does, at least right now. As long as Groupon continues to write such great copy, they’ll have a big advantage over their competitors.”

Click here for full article.

Editorial style (and schtick) guide

Check out the company’s Public Editorial Manual which describes the Groupon Voice in detail and has a whole section on Humor Writing, complete with examples. Here’s a small taste:


Zog’s Dogs

“The first deep-frying techniques were used as a means of preserving wedding gowns and Barry Bonds rookie cards; it wasn’t until later that they were applied to food….”

Guide to Art-Museum Banter

“Before taking advantage of today’s Groupon, memorize these handy art criticisms, which are guaranteed to apply to any work in the Lowe Art Museum:

  • “The brush stroke is large. It would not shock me if the artist painted with a wig or mop. Do you agree with my point of view?”
  • “The way color is used is breathtaking. It is either red, blue, green, or purple, but I would need to take a closer look to be sure.”
  • “Some say those are boxes, but to me they appear as triangles. Either way, this painting is about Lou Gehrig’s desire to adopt a dog.”
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June 29, 2010

TECH TIPS BLOG | Web 2.0: Multiple intelligences, multiple possibilities

My latest post on the Tech Tips Blog, part of the Web 20.10 site by Discovery Education and partners including Microsoft and SMART Technologies.

creative brainHow do I learn thee? Let me count the ways…

By now most American educators have embraced the idea of multiple intelligences—of different kinds of “minds” and different styles of learning.

Whether you subscribe to Howard Gardner‘s eight  kinds of minds—Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Spatial, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Naturalistic—or the broader VAK (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) categorization, you recognize that teaching and learning is not one-size-fits-all.

No one expects you to customize a lesson in eight different ways for the eight different kinds of minds in your class. But with Web 2.0, it’s a distinct possibility.

images.jpgRead the entire post here:

Web 2.0: Multiple Intelligences, Multiple Possibilities


Digital collage tools from

Digital collage tools from

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