My journey to Franco has taken more than 45 years through a long career in broadcast, print and online journalism and corporate communications. The one thing in common with all those stops along the road – storytelling.
The concept of storytelling may seem simple but finding the right recipe of words, emotions, images – both mental and visual, a sharp awareness of your audience and logical progression of the storyline is vital in making the type of connections that can lead to the desired result. Those results can range from sales to media placement to image enhancement, an improved business relationship or simply entertainment.
Indeed, storytelling became the one constant in my career, whether it was as a morning drivetime radio announcer, weekend weatherman at a Tucson, Arizona television station, correspondent/bureau chief/producer/anchor at CNN for 20 years, or automotive writer for the Detroit News and Associated Press and as the first Head of Digital Communications at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. It’s also a big part of my personal life, posting to my blog, Edlines.co.
Every one of those jobs presented the opportunity to tell stories – anything from Pete Rose being tossed from baseball, assisted suicide Doctor Jack Kevorkian, to plane crashes, natural disasters, individuals facing economic challenges, medical breakthroughs, politics, automotive and even steerable cockroaches. The aim, each time, was to engage and educate people through effective storytelling.
My goal at Franco is use the storytelling skills I’ve honed during my long and varied career to enhance the agency’s already superior work. I want to suggest and demonstrate approaches to storytelling that use the Franco team members’ considerable skill sets and try to push their thinking into some places that lead to enhanced storytelling and story placement like simply making an otherwise brand promotion into something entertaining and fun without it being a blatant ad.
At FCA my team helped pioneer “corporate journalism,” which is telling corporate and brand stories much the way an editorial reporter might do so on a newscast. One of our first big successes was with a video we titled “Straight Talk About Assistance,” explaining to the American public in 2009 why letting, then Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors die from bankruptcy would hurt the country. Instead of simply releasing a statement with canned, corporate quotes, we found a way to tell a complicated story important to our company and industry in a more engaging manner. We won earned media coverage and directly connected with an audience that we might not have otherwise reached.
Bottom line… regardless of the medium, in the end, people just love reading, hearing, experiencing a great story they can relate to or fantasize about, and that’s what ultimately led me to Franco. After all, isn’t that what PR is all about? We’re looking for the most successful methods of telling our clients’ stories through an assortment of media, whether broadcast, video, social or print. In today’s world you have one or two seconds to capture someone’s attention on a video or online post. Even if you initially grab it, holding on to the reader or viewer all the way through is a nirvana seldom reached.
After I retired from FCA in 2016, I held a temporary, part-time position as video reporter at Automotive News. When that job ended this past July, I wasn’t ready to go back to full retirement. When the opportunity arose to join Franco, I knew it would be a great fit. I love the fact that Franco’s leadership and staff totally get the importance of creative storytelling, are extremely talented and are completely open and encouraging toward trying new methods in order to score wins for both the agency and its clients.
I can’t think of a better way to take all of my years of telling stories on the radio, television, wires, newspapers, social media, corporate communications and putting those experiences to work at Franco where we can work together to create the next great stories leading to the next great successes.