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The importance of positive storytelling

Earlier this month I chaired the ‘Marketing to the Rural Sector’ conference held in Sydney.

This conference is the only conference of its type in Australia, and brings together marketers from across the country to learn about the latest trends, hear from leading voices in the industry, witness creative strategy at work, and develop a deeper understanding of the psychology, attitudes and behaviours of the industry’s consumers.

Throughout the conference the theme that echoed over the two days was the need for a greater focus on positive stories about regional and rural Australia because the story of regional and rural Australia is not only one of droughts, floods, animal welfare issues, global warming, mental health crisis, or land usage debates.

But how can we stop the constant negative conversations particularly in the media about regional and rural Australia?

In truth, the media love a negative story. Generally, a news story whether on TV, in newspapers or on the radio uses one or a combination of the following story angles:

• Crisis
• Conflict
• Scandal
• Character or judgement
• An incident
• Extremes
• The battler

Each of these story angles, whilst very negative, is underpinned by either the people, places or events as the main elements to the story.

So how can we influence the media to focus on more positive story angles?

Firstly, we must understand that anything can be news, but not everything is newsworthy. For something to be newsworthy it must have purpose and add value to a topic.

Secondly it is also important that we look at how the news story is told and ensure the news story is comprehensive. The best stories are those that pull us into a world so that we see it from multiple angles as a complete picture.

A good story must have four key elements:

  1. Emotion – the audience must feel emotionally involved and connected.
  2. Immersion – the audience must be fully immersed, absorbed and engrossed.
  3. Believability – the audience must identify with some truth and believability in the story.
  4. Recall – the audience can recall and relive the unforgettable story.

Sadly, metropolitan media, and their audiences, have a certain perception about regional and rural Australia. These perceptions have been influenced over many years by their own past experiences, values, assumptions, expectations and needs. Changing these perceptions is no easy task.

But we must realise the key to changing these perceptions is through positive story telling.

So, my message is don’t sit back and allow the narrative of regional and rural Australia to be determined and dictated by others. There are plenty of positive stories, and each of us has a responsibility to tell these stories. Be prepared to have an opinion and to put yourself forward and provide commentary through positive storytelling.

Adam Arndell

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