When I worked solely in corporate communications, I’d spend an hour or two a day on story ideas.
That’s about a fifth or quarter of my time – spent reading, listening, talking, arguing and thinking, (often while walking or jogging).
I moved partly into content about five years ago.
Working in the investment sector, this is a culture where, typically, someone gives you an idea wrapped in jargon, you turn it into something readable and then your compliance department turn it back into jargon. No brainstorming here.
I go to enough conferences and seminars about content to see that this experience is common.
But why is corporate communications essentially a dialogue about ideas and marketing content the one-way transmission of ideas?
I have two thoughts. The first is the widely-held view that investment is boring.
In life you often find what you’re looking for.
When I look at investment I see smart people trying to divine meaning from complex trends in demography, migration, democracy and the depletion and reuse of natural resources.
I see the birth, marriages and death throes of companies, governments and other things you can invest in. I see the science fiction films I watched as a kid becoming reality. I see things that make the world go round.
If you think that’s twee or boring then maybe telling stories about investment isn’t for you.
My second thought is the received wisdom that “ideas come from other people”.
As an investment story teller your first job is to have ideas that help your employer (or client) achieve their objectives – your second job is to make them happen.
My stories have to say something new, they have to differentiate my client and they have to offer commercial benefits to teller and reader.
I always try and add jeopardy too.
I use this framework all the time. It helps me handle extrovert heads of distribution and introverted fund managers, helping both understand the value of good storytelling.
It’s imperfect – but it always encourages a dialogue about ideas, rather than the simple transmission of an idea from expert, to marketer, to reader.
What’s your ideas framework?