The author is CEO of Hill+Knowlton Strategies, a PR subsidiary of advertising giant WPP. He also co-founded the digital and content firm Group SJR, now part of H+K. Prior to that he was a political pollster, digital architect and brand strategist.
As the world around us becomes ever more complex, the need for people to make sense of it and then explain it becomes ever greater, this applies as much to organizations as to individuals. Jutkowitz says that "information is abundant; but stories are rare". We know that people react emotionally to stories differently to facts – their impact is greater and more enduring.
The heart of this book lies in the concept that "data adds credibility, stories add memorability". Jutkowitz's proposition is that brands are essentially stories. Stories are memorable ways to transmit ideas and activities, or content, as he describes it. And content marketing is about convening people around those ideas.
The power of content is that it is intrinsically shareable. You don't need to sell an idea as hard if it comes wrapped in a story; in fact it often will get shared and discovered because of the story. But he also sees that stories need to have appeal – and essentially that requires connecting to the common humanity in us all.
Interestingly he is far from critical about repetition and errors. Stories can and should be remoulded for different audiences, and repeated through different perspectives and prisms – what he describes as atomization and serialization of content.
Jutkowitz's most powerful observation is on velocity. The digital age has increased the velocity of change, so regardless of whether you are creating content or anything else, the most important factor is to 'get it out there', with all its raw imperfections. Those who spend too much time finessing and double-checking every element of a new product or tweet, miss the moment.
Presumably he does not extend this to new drugs or airplane maintenance….). "[Velocity] has stripped away a persistent belief that all organizations harbor – the belief that there is time….. the perennial slowdown that comes from wanting certainty is what eventually leads to the cementing of hierarchies and bureaucracies".
This book is about content – but it is also about change. Much of Jutkowitz's thinking can be applied – and his stories draw from – other fields entirely. Read this to get a lesson on managing change as much as how to leverage a good tale for strategic reasons.
Title: The Strategic Storyteller: Content Marketing in the Age of the Educated Consumer
Author/s Name/s: Alexander Jutkowitz
Publishing Date: August 2017
Number of Pages: 148
Author Knowledge Rating: 1-5 (based on their years of experience, academic expertise in subject areas, and exposure to cross-functional thinking in the area)
Readability: 1-5 score(1=dense and v academic; 5=frantic; page turner)
Appropriate Length: (1=could have been written in 25% of the length;5=could have been longer)
Core Idea Value: (1=nonsense (or entirely esoteric); 5=game-changer)