By August 30, 2012 0 Comments Read More →

Two forms of public affairs storytelling

It’s a bit of a conundrum, really. News, real and manufactured, happens at an incredible rate these days. That puts a lot of pressure on mainstream journalists/producers and social media content creators (language by which both are comfortable being identified). To be seen as relevant, they must be attentive to online chatter and be able to tell stories to their audiences in short segments — digestible sizes with the most important-in-the-moment information. It’s the news equivalent of racing to dig your car out of a snowbank so you can get to the next destination. It solves a short term problem you’re likely to put behind you once you’re in traffic.

That’s one version of storytelling.

There’s at least one other version.

Steve Paikin knows how to dig into public affairs stories for their substance. His TVO program, The Agenda with Steve Paikin, examines events when they’re no longer news (in modern terms). Steve and his team look for the stories from which there’s more to understand and learn. By looking at stories after the fact, stories which can support a 30-40 minute exploration, the stakeholders and others who pay attention may identify actionable outcomes. It seems to me the equivalent of perpetually examining snow clearing operations for opportunities to improve and ways to prepare for the next snowfall.

How many of us follow events when they’re happening and make a note to come back later to look at what the outcomes were? It’s hard to take on post mortem analysis and also be on top of the latest developments, particularly when there are so many happening at once. There’s a lot of competition for our attention and only so much of it to go around. And, there’s value in understanding now and what can be taken and applied from previous experiences — ours and others’.

Perhaps that’s why I frequently turn off my social media streams and take some time to dig into an issue.

You can learn about Steve Paikin’s approach to storytelling in the latest edition of the IABC Ottawa podcast, The Voice: a conversation with TVO host Steve Paikin.

Photo: Shoveling out of two feet of snow uploaded to Flickr by robleto.

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About the Author:

Mark Blevis is a digital public affairs strategist and President of FullDuplex.ca, an integrated digital communications, public affairs and research company. His work focuses on the role of digital tools and culture on issues and reputation management. He also leads research into how Canadian opinions are shaped through online content and interactions.