The Serious Business of Stories

A few weeks back I had the pleasure of speaking to 180 fellow writers at the Professional Copywriters’ Network’s second conference. Terrific the conference was too, with a smart, friendly audience who didn’t throw things; a variety of insightful speakers not scared to express an opinion; smooth organisation, with no crashed laptops or cold tea; and a memorable venue in Haberdashers’ Hall, Smithfield. If you don’t know the PCN I recommend you drop by their lively website, and look out for details of the next conference.

My talk was on stories. Given that hardly anyone in our industry bothers to define their use of the term, I set out to answer the question what exactly is a story? Also, why are so many people in marketing and branding talking about stories (but failing to tell them)? And how can businesses and writers use story structure and techniques to communicate in more interesting and memorable ways?

Other speakers and talks included Rory Sutherland on behavioural economics (perhaps more accurately, behavioural psychology), or what copywriters have always known but have often found hard to explain; and Dr Jillian Ney on how social media measurement can help inspire effective writing. There were also packed break-out sessions led by the likes of Andy Maslen and Bill Hilton. And all of this was woven together into a coherent, well paced day by PCN founders Ben Locker and Tom Albrighton, the Fry and Laurie of 21st century copywriting.

Enough preamble. If you’d like to see my 30-minute talk you can watch the video here. I can promise you conflict, strong views, a horrendous piece of jargon and a nice photograph of Zippy and George from Rainbow. Videos of the other sessions can be seen here.

Le Carré gets to share stage with Tim Rich

Rather dull screen grab featuring a brilliant quote by le Carré.


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