On Tuesday 28th November 2017, the Alumni Relations Team hosted this year’s second MBA Networking Club. Current students and recent graduates gathered together to learn more about the “Importance of storytelling in brand building and business strategy” from our guest speaker Kwame MA McPherson. We have taken the most interesting questions discussed during the event to interview him and to find out more about his ideas on this subject.
Who is Kwame MA McPherson?
Kwame MA McPherson, is a prolific writer/content organiser, authorpreneur, mentor and orator. He has published a number of books as well as having won several writing competitions. He is also the first Jamaican, from the Jamaican Diaspora, to have his books in The National Library of Jamaica and have them endorsed by the University of the West Indies. Having lived in Canada, Kwame worked at the University of Toronto and Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Kwame has carved a growing business out of writing and he now facilitates workshops on writing, publishing and using a book as a brand.
Where can stories be found?
In this 21st Century there are stories everywhere, more so than before. On television. In newspapers and magazines. Online. Offline. Everywhere we look and see, there is a story. Enhanced by various tools of technological; stories, whether true or ‘fake’ news, now move more rapidly. Traversing communities and countries within seconds. Within this quickly changing information environment, for businesses, companies or corporations need to find a way which enables them and their products to stand-out amidst the noise. Therefore, having the “right” story to promote their brand, helps.
What is, in your opinion, the future on Storytelling and Branding?
I believe that there will be a convergence of storytelling and AI (artificial intelligence) where someone will be able to say something to the intelligence (e.g. Amazon Echo and Google Home) for a particular product and an advert is generated, and that will be in the form of a story. Presently, in the literary world, flash fiction is an abridged version of short story telling. It maximises 50-500 words, and I can see where brands use minimal scripts to create adverts. As I have mentioned at the MBA Networking Club: “As things stand, there are fixed story paths determined by your answers but in the future it’s conceivable the AI will be smart enough to generate outcomes. That means the story won’t even be written, it’ll just have a ‘character’ that adapts to what you say with no predicted eventual outcome”.
Is the art of Storytelling threatened by the fact that people, nowadays, would rather focus on social media platforms instead of “talking” with each other?
I don’t think so. I think it is the opposite. As much as people may not “talk” with each other, they still absorbs stories somehow. So, take for example, whereas the normal way of telling stories is currently accomplished, say via terrestrial television; now people can create their own stories via instant and immediate programming in stories that they wish to see and have an interest in (such as Netflix). Social media platforms has also created other ways in which stories can be told, so it will not be in the traditional ways anymore but new, innovative methods that will keep the tradition of storytelling alive.
Companies like John Lewis or Waitrose, have a number of resources that enable them to create great stories/adverts, however, how could smaller companies, with limited resources, also be able to do so? Any examples?
As highlighted before, social media platforms have created a channel in which small and medium enterprises can engage with their varied target markets. There are numerous sites which enable videos even for free (e.g. Vimeo) that allow the creation of videos and the ability to share on mainstream platforms. There are designers, videographers, scriptwriters and so on, which cost little and nothing to help businesses and people produce cutting-edge stories, tools and mediums to reach wider audiences (i.e. Fiverr.com).
Finally, you mentioned that your goal is to “help people telling their stories”, how do you intend to do so?
I presently do seminars, workshops and one-to-one mentoring, enabling and empowering people to tell stories pertinent to them. This varies since every one of us has a story within ourselves from seeking or sharing self-actualisation and expertise (for work or business) or just to share a particular experience (whether traumatic or a life lesson). I use the various social media platforms to assist in ensuring that customers/potential customers are encouraged to plan, write and complete that writing goal. I also show them how they can publish their work.
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