Winning the Story Wars

I’m currently reading a book titled Winning the Story Wars by Jonah Sachs. If you have seen the awesome video called The Story of Stuff hosted by Annie Leonard, well, he’s the man who produced that controversial viral documentary.

My coworker mentioned that I should read the book for an interesting perspective on strategic communications. The imagery of  a “story war” and the illustrations on the cover caught my attention. In the opening chapter, Sachs writes:

” All societies have relied on core myths to guide them, and too many of ours have been stretched to the point of breaking. Our hunger for these stories explains many of the greatest marketing successes of our time and points to the enormous responsibility marketers carry as creators of modern myths. Why? Because the wars fought over stories have always been the most critical fights in shaping a society’s future.”

So this sounds like pretty exciting, epic stuff, right?

As a creative writer, I love the idea of linking storytelling with social change. Stories shape how we view the world, ourselves, our morals and values. Communication is a key part of the implementation process of any new business strategy or policy measure. You have to understand human psychology and behavior to achieve your goal and build the appropriate relationships with the public that foster participation and mutual respect.

I choose to see this ability as a “force for good,” although clearly there are plenty of media professionals out there using their authority for “evil”  whether its through corporate or political propaganda, smear campaigns, otherization, victim-blaming, and shoddy journalism.

Just think of the powerful voices who created the narratives that deny the occupation of Palestine, the reality of global warming, the facade of WMDs in Iraq, the otherization of Muslims in the US, the disproportionate incarceration of young black men in US prison system, the failure of the war on drugs and poverty etc. etc.

I’m looking forward to learning more about how to take timeless storytelling themes and weave them into the modern day media landscape to amplify truth, empowerment, and justice. I plan on blogging more about my readings from this book, so stay tuned and let me know if you have any specific questions!

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