Storytelling Tips from Two Creative Giants

Feb 10 2016

by Catherine Hamrick

“A brand is a story that is always being told.”

 Storytelling your brand takes heart—whether aimed at your website’s “About” page or a blog post about a customer experience. When you’re pressed for time and inspiration, rely on the advice of industry greats for winning strategies.

Pulitzer-prize winner and journalism professor Jacqui Banaszynski maps eight ways to tell a story.

  1. Who are the characters, places, and events behind a story? Choose one and create a profile.
  2. How does something work? Why does it happen? Explain by showing your audience.
  3. Is there something big behind your story? Maybe it’s a trend or issue.
  4. Do you see a story with scenes, tensions, and structure (beginning, middle, and end)? Then you have a narrative.
  5. Does a special moment stir interest? It might act as a short alternative to a narrative.
  6. Can you find a unique perspective? Does a roundtable of voices tell a story?
  7. Can you relate a tale in the blink of an eye? Visual storytelling works with photographs, illustrations, infographics, gifs, short video, and Vines.
  8. What about an opportunity to dig deep into documents and summarize something complicated? Take a cue from investigative journalists.


Once you have a storytelling strategy, follow through on delivery. Filmmaker Andrew Stanton offers seven clues that transform a story from good to great:

  1. Make a promise.
  2. Have a theme.
  3. Use what you know.
  4. Make your audience care.
  5. Head for one resolution.
  6. Know your punchline.
  7. Create a sense of wonder.

When making the most of storytelling techniques, you power up content marketing with humanity.

Professor Jacqui Banaszynski, Knight Chair in Journalism, Missouri School of Journalism
Professor Jacqui Banaszynski, Knight Chair in Journalism, Missouri School of Journalism

Catherine Hamrick is a storyteller, editor, and social media strategist. She blogs at Random Storyteller, which features creative nonfiction (often with a Southern twist), poetry, musings, and writing tips.


Catherine Hamrick View More Blog Posts from this Author

After a few years as a copywriter for the Southern Living Advertising Department, editor and writer Catherine Hamrick learned her craft in the magazine and book divisions of media giants Time Inc. and Meredith Corporation. She taught writing, literature, public speaking, and business communication at the university level. As a freelancer, Catherine has tackled "almost every topic but porn and physics" and has managed editorial projects or co-authored branded books for imprints such as Southern Living, Oxmoor House, Meredith Books, Better Homes and Gardens, Traditional Home, Country Home, Midwest Living, The Home Depot, Ortho, and Lark Publishing. Certified in social media marketing, she coaches students and professionals in writing resumes, cover letters, and online profiles. She is also a ghostwriter—that is, a professional keeper of secrets. Connect @ChamrickWriter or drop by her blogs: Random Storyteller ( and Catherine Hamrick: Writer, Editor, Social Media Human (

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