The aim of telling a story is simply to delight – and sometimes to teach. And as members of innumerable industries and professions, we’ve certainly learnt a lot from the world’s great storytellers. Some 93 per cent of business-to-business brands worldwide use content marketing, and storytelling has become a marketing strategy that has precipitated the rise of companies and agencies whose sole specialty is to help brands build relationships with their customers in this way.
A good story holds us captive. It stretches the limits of our imagination and allows us to marvel or wonder at something. It leaves us vulnerable and it touches us. That’s why stories are such an amazing communications tool.
But the problem is that with the advent of content marketing, every digital platform is buzzing with below-par content and “noise”. So we wanted to take a moment to celebrate storytelling as we know and love it – storytelling that comes from people, whether they are writers or actors or directors or poets or musicians.
We surveyed almost 500 authors, journalists, editors, students, and media and marketing professionals, from best-selling authors, such as Ian Rankin and Marian Keyes, to editor-in-chief of Guardian US, Janine Gibson, and economics editor of Channel 4 News, Paul Mason, asking them who is the world’s greatest storyteller?
Answers spanned continents and genres, and crossed mediums and disciplines. Many entrants found it difficult to pick just one. Some cited individuals from their own industries, some were a testament to the influence of family on how we experience and create stories, and some displayed complete conviction and confidence in their choice of a “great”.
Fifty three per cent chose living storytellers, while forty seven per cent chose those who have passed away. The top five included William Shakespeare, J.K. Rowling, Roald Dahl, Charles Dickens and Stephen King. But more than an overwhelmingly popular result, what is most striking about the results is the diversity of the votes, which begs the question – is there a world’s greatest? Or does everyone have their own great?
Storytelling is the essence of creativity, inspiration and imagination. Celebrating it is the most natural thing in the world. In whatever forms they’re created and whoever the creators are, great stories always hit home.