Sometimes you reach for a lead, and sometimes one gets dropped in your lap.
There I was, searching the news the last week in August. It was as if the “B” team had taken over the world. Everybody who was anybody, starting with President Obama and family, were on vacation. The second stringers running the show weren’t showing me the love. How was I going to make Sandy, our blog editor, happy with an entry based on lame coverage of lame news? Bill? Really? Is that the best we can do when it comes to hurricane nomenclature these days?
I packed it in and went downstairs to help with dinner. Fortunately, I turned on 60 Minutes. The entire program was devoted to the late, great Don Hewitt, creator of 60 Minutes, and some would say, the network news program itself. As much as I have criticized the show as representing the best in nursing home–ready correspondents in recent years, I can’t deny that 60 Minutes was a game-changer. Don Hewitt looked at the best in what TV news had to offer, the CBS Evening News, and decided that he could do something better. How many of us are willing to mess with success?
At several points during the broadcast, archival footage showed Hewitt being asked what it was that made him able to get the best out of all the egomaniacs who worked for him. What was his secret to success? “Simple,” he would say. Four simple words: “Tell Me a Story.”
The news and corporate histories aren’t all that different. As we tell clients, let’s focus on your story. Tell me your story. Don’t give me the PR spin or the PowerPoint deck you are showing securities analysts next week. Tell me a story about your company.
When we focus on the stories that define our companies or organizations, we cut through the clutter and get to the essence of what makes the entity click. We focus on history in the making. Consciously or not, we highlight that which is going to be remembered 10 or 100 years from now, not the moment that will help us slide through the next quarterly performance review.
Don Hewitt instinctively grasped the power of the story. The rest of us have to work at it. A great one is no longer walking among us. It is a moment worth marking, and remembering.