It Takes A Village To Tell A Story

This morning it is a sweltering 106 with heat index….in New England! Perhaps, I did not escape the hot and humidity when I left Texas. The way to cool down is ice cream (or sorbet, in my case) and a summer blockbuster. Just this past weekend, the family and I had opening night tickets to see the final installment of Harry Potter.

Don’t turn the channel…I will NOT give you my review of Harry Potter.

What caught my attention in the theater, like most summer blockbusters, was the attention to detail in sound, music, set design and costumes. Yes, the plot and actors are key, but telling the story goes beyond the cast of characters in front of the camera.

Recently, I outlined the various hats a community manager wears. In some cases, the community manager or executives with a generous amount of face or media time become the actors or stars of the show who play out the story defined by those outside of the limelight. No matter how talented your community manager/team or how big their personal brands (or Klout) may be, they singlehandedly cannot make the story a blockbuster.

It takes a village to tell a story.

1. Actor/Actress in a Supporting Role

Exactly as the title depicts, this person or team is there to support the leading cast. Often both roles rotate and each person/team requires skills to play both positions. For example, it may be Community Managers on the front lines, but Customer Support or Training are supporting the CM, assisting them in fulfilling their role and answering the need of the community (audience).

2. Cinematography

Not all communication channels are alike. A skilled eye and team are necessary to ensure the picture we see in our minds eye actually comes to fruition. This team makes the lighting and camera choices for recording the images you see on the screen. They know the intricacies of the equipment if and when technical difficulties or creative options arise when a scene is in motion. This part of the crew is your IT department. Despite popular belief, they are not out there to road block your every move, but offer you expert advice and help you through the sticky situations for which your team lacks experience and expertise.

3. Costume Design/Makeup

Verbal communication only goes so far. We read into things and absorb stories through visual elements, as well. It is the job of this person or team to set the mood for the community (audience). Many times, this role is cast to Marketing and Web Design. Various artists are creating specific items for various different channels or scenarios. This vision, to some extent will require unification and blending for the story to resonate and make sense from scene to scene.

4. Sound Editing/Music

There are several forms of editing from creating the sonic world from scratch to making original dialogue more understandable. Sound adds a layer to the scene that stimulates our senses and helps us to process what we are seeing with our eyes. It stirs emotion and helps us connect (or not) with the actions of the actors on the screen. Similar to these teams, one has to realize that there is more to engagement than just online interaction. Offline interaction requiring verbal conversation is essential to telling a story. Make sure your organization is all on the same page for tone and direction, so when the director calls for action, white noise does not take center stage.

Even a one man play needs props and direction.

Of course we haven’t talked about the value of a film editor or writer, but we will save that for another scorcher of a day!

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