Why you should embed your story into your business DNA

Odette & Co storytelling

If you’re anything like us, you’re a sucker for a good story.

We love the power stories have to connect us to one another, their capacity to plunge us into the glare of the unknown, to educate, and to inspire action. Stories lure us in, capture our imagination, and deeply impact our sense of belonging. 

There’s got to be a reason why story, myth, and fables have been used since the dawn of time to pass on vital information. Studies have shown that constructive storytelling has the capacity to impact the audience’s brain more than factual content. If we have a protagonist to connect to, we are more likely to empathise.

Some would argue that it’s storytelling that makes us human.

And it’s your story that makes you fascinating to others, so back yourself! 

So why should we embed stories into the heart of our businesses? How do stories translate to dollars?

Let us share a little story, about a story, about a story…

We had the pleasure of helping to tell a particular story that still tugs at the ‘ol heart strings. It begins with an incredible woman and esteemed food author named Jody Vassallo

Jody lives on a rural property in Tilba on the southern NSW coast, and cares for a small flock of sheep. When the drought forced her to buy hay, she was blindsided with the realisation of the magnitude of the problem that farmers in central Australia and Queensland were facing.

Having written upwards of 20 cookbooks and having worked in the food industry for over 20 years, Jody deeply felt the connection with the farmers through the produce that she and her peers had built their careers on. As she fed the imported hay to her sheep, an idea materialised. She had a great way to help raise money to support the farmers. Using her resources, experience, and support of her friends, she would make a cookbook and donate all proceeds of the sales to the farming community doing it tough. Jody put the call out to her pals, and quickly she started to receive some resounding YES’s! Jamie Oliver was in, then Matt Moran, Ronni Kahn, Stephanie Alexander, Maggie Beer… soon everyone she knew was putting their hand up to participate. 

The community has thrown their support behind the project, each giving their time, their talents and their love back to the food producers who have been their lifeblood. They connected to the story of these farmers because they saw themselves in them. We have been out to farms all across rural and regional Australia talking with farmers about the challenges, the heart ache but also the joy of their work. Each and every person working on the land spoke of their love. Of the sunsets, the connection to nature, the connection to community and their respect for the elements.

And we, for one, are chuffed to the eyeballs to have been a part of this.

It was our absolute pleasure to be invited by Jody to craft a custom PR and social media campaign with an initial (albeit preeeetty daunting) $60k target.

Turns out, we’re not the only ones who melt in the presence of a good story, because once we secured coverage in Delicious, Taste, Gourmet Traveller, ABC news, ABC radio, and Channel 7’s Daily Edition, we ended up smashing the initial target and managed to generate over $150k (and counting!). 

And at the heart of this success. The story behind this beautiful book.

The audience immediately connected to the cause on an emotional level.

How could you not?

The momentum grew because of the way that it was effectively broadcast on a variety of storytelling channels, exploring all the good angles from cookbook extracts, to food media, to mainstream media on the radio, to television cooking demos and interviews, and magazines (who were quite happy to accept beautiful high-resolution imagery and considered content, thankyouverymuch). 

If you’re reading this and thinking, “how am I meant to beat a story like this?”, let us offer you a few little words from one of the actual best storytellers out there, Ira Glass, of “This American Life” fame: “Great stories happen to those who can tell them.”

So, go on.

Do a little digging.

Have a few conversations.

Walk straight into the scary belly of the beast, roll up your sleeves, and get emotional.

Do the work to connect with your audience on a deeper level.

Get to know them.

Think about all the different angles you could take, and how the story changes when you hold it up to the light. Does it have a structure? A beginning, middle, or end? A hero? 

Sometimes the best stories are right there waiting for you to tell and all you have to do is notice.

Want some help telling your story? You might like to read about our PR mentoring program.

Odette Barry