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The story

There is an answer for all those who argue that a company, industry or region needs a “story”.

The answer is to not to say we need a story, but to write it – provide the content and the words.

Story writing is hard. When written by corporates the result is usually a list of feel-good wishes.

The fundamental misunderstanding is how these sorts of stories are created and heard by an audience.

Despite the rhetoric, very few consumers take the time to learn deeply about the companies behind the products they buy.

What audiences do is create a story from small pieces of evidence picked up direct from experience or overheard. They fill in the blanks.

That’s why our own research recently found that New Zealanders think Waikato is cows and a river. It’s people’s shorthand for a story that Waikato is a farming-based economy and natural countryside. It’s reasonably accurate.

If Waikato leaders want to add more to that ‘story’ they should provide another shorthand clue. The public fills in the rest of the story.

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