How Coverage of the Olympic Games Serves as a Model for Staying Relevant in Business I'm sitting in front of the TV watching the Olympics as I write this. Ordinarily, I'm not much of a sports fan. I love college (and some pro) football but will watch other sports only when there is a title on the line. Going to the movie theater to see "Glory Road" or "Remember the Titans" is usually about as involved in athletics as I am interested in undertaking. The Olympics are different, though. Thanks to great media coverage, the Olympic games feel much more relevant to me than most sporting events. Why? For exactly the same reason movies appeal to me: I love great storytelling. And when the Olympics are on, we get to see storytelling at its best. In a matter of moments I can go from having no idea who an athlete is to really, really caring how well he or she does in competition. I watch sports I normally wouldn't think twice about just because I feel an emotional connection with the athlete, thanks to the wonderful heartwarming stories I see and read in the days leading up to specific events. The Olympic games provide particularly fertile ground for those features known as "The Hero's Journey," stories about obstacles overcome, joys shared, deamons faced and surprises revealed. Combine this with the fact that American pride is at stake and suddenly I actually feel a physical reaction to what I'm watching. I get engaged and root for "my" competitor (you know, the one I wasn't even aware of yesterday!). This kind of connection doesn't have to be limited to sports. Smart businesses understand the power of making their products relevant to their buyers/users. Remember, relevant companies are Strategic, Proactive, Universal, and Dynamic (the SPUD approach). It's true that people buy with their hearts and justify with their brains. Don't overlook the opportunity to use storytelling to educate and sell to your customers. If you don't think you have a story or you don't know why it matters, get thee to a PR counselor. The best ones excel at storytelling in a meaningful way. You may even find that in the process of uncovering the story you want to tell others, you and your employees will reconnect in new ways as well.


At February 17, 2006 12:21 PM, Blogger Josh said...

Welcome to Edelman!

At March 21, 2006 6:19 PM, Anonymous Kevin said...

The same holds true for non-profit development. We share the financial benefits, the statistics of our success, but the most pwoerful messages are those that tell the story of a kid whose life was saved and transformed forever by our organization.


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