The currency of stories


One of the clients I have the pleasure of working with over the past decade is NIACE – The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education. They champion adult learning and encourage the government to look favourably upon it too.

I’m exceptionally grateful to NIACE because they made me consciously aware of what I had been unconsciously aware of when I worked as a video journalist at the BBC. I had a feeling back then that a good story was a good thing. But NIACE made me realise that a good story is more than that. It has value.

It was at one of their Adult Learners’ Awards Ceremonies that Verity Bullough from the Skills Funding Agency said, ”People aren’t inspired by lists of information… but it’s people’s stories that people really go for.”

Yes. Facts tell. Stories sell. But it was filming their chief Executive NAME that I became aware of how crucial stories are to their make up. Funnily enough he did this by telling story: a story about a florist and how his story swayed government.

To NIACE, stories are more than a good thing. They have value. And they can be used as currency.


Snackable Video

I’ve just seen that the BBC are tweeting about the day’s weather using video. Nothing too unusual about that. Or is there?

Here’s an example:

Not quite what you expected? Where is the jacket and tie? The standing? The pointing? And we’re all done in 19 seconds! What happened to the full two minutes? Obviously this is filmed ‘behind the scenes’, off the cuff. But it’s a absolute breath of fresh air. Yes, we get the point that the weather was not going to change anytime soon. But through this we get SO MUCH MORE than the weather. We get to see, hear, be part of the newsroom. We get to see the weather presenter in his regular clothes, in his natural habitat, being his usual helpful self, despite the early hour. Perhaps there’s a degree more honesty here too. But above all, for me, because the busy news presenter organised this tweet when she really didn’t have to, we get a sense that the BBC really cares. All from a simple tweet.

Watching the video, did you stop to consider how it was filmed? The video quality seemed good enough, so did it concern you? Besides, this is the BBC! There was probably a director involved, a broadcast quality camera and microphone deployed. But no. This footage was filmed single-handedly by the the main news presenter with her iPhone. Prepped. Recorded. Tweeted. Job done. Moving on. A couple of minute’s work. And SO MUCH POSITIVITY emanating as a result.

It’s events like this that make me think that there is a new wave of video developing. First we have broadcast quality video from television studios and professional video companies. Then, at the other end of the spectrum, we have ‘home-made’ video, which can be a bit hit and miss if I’m being honest. But I see this exciting new genre of video emerging: well-made, engaging, honest, inexpensive. And quick. You may say this is a good thing. I do. You may argue it’s a bad thing. I know fellow video professionals that do. But it’s here. And it’s harbouring an enormous amount of unexplored potential.

But what to call this new kind of video? I mentioned this once to James Taylor from Macildowie Recruitment Consultants and he said, “So you’re talking about a kind of Snackable Video?” “Yes, James,” I said, “Snackable Video is exactly what I’m talking about.”



Deadlines are the life and soul.

It’s nothing new I know: to get something done, you need a deadline. If you don’t have one, then the only way that things are going to happen is if someone else does it for you. And the only way they’ll get it done is if they have their own deadline. Just think of that shoemaker who relied on those elves working the nightshift. But a deadline is an awkward little fellow. He’s never quite where you want him. He’s either too far away, in which case he is ignored and may as well not be there at all, or, as Leonard Bernstein would concur, he’s way too near. Leonard said,”To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” Of course he was writing and conducting musicals – slightly trickier than writing one’s first blog. But either way, without a deadline things just don’t happen. Perhaps the hardest thing is having to invent one in order to get things rolling – like I have here: I want to have my first blog up by 2pm. A synthetic deadline. And if I miss 2pm, absolutely no-one  will mind. So mine is a synthetic deadline with a safety net. Arguably the best sort. And once I press ‘publish’ it will evaporate into the ether leaving no visible trace of its existence whatsoever. But I alone will owe it a great debt of gratitude. For without it this blog wouldn’t have been written. And without his many and varied colleagues all those wonderful stories out there would remain untold.