At church, we were studying the book of Hosea. One of the main themes from Hosea is that you can return to God despite the failures, even severely offensive failures, in your life. In other words, God is saying, “Come back.” The last chapter of the book starts off saying, “Take words with you and return to the Lord…” The idea is to think about what you’re going to say. Prepare words to express honestly your innermost thoughts for the purpose of restoring your relationship with God.
The last chapter of the book starts off saying, “Take words with you and return to the Lord…” Crystalize your thoughts with actual language. Prepare words to express your deepest, most sincere thoughts. Use those words to restore your relationship with God.
Words Should Express Ideas Not Create Them
When commenting on this verse, the pastor said, “Words are meant to express ideas, not to create them.” He was contrasting honest, true conversation against “spin.” To spin your report, of course, is to intentionally twist and distort the report to your advantage – or your preferred version. It is corrupt, intentionally misleading, and nobody likes to be on the receiving end of it. Ultimately, spinning is lying because it fabricates a false narrative for personal gain.
The Dark Side Of Marketing
I spend a great deal of time studying online marketing, especially with regard to content marketing. It doesn’t take long to discover that there is certainly a dark side to marketing, and “spin” is a big part of the problem. Of course, we all understand that you want to present yourself and your business in a positive, helpful way – and there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem comes in when the words create ideas rather than express reality. It may seem like a blurry line between the two, but it’s really not. You step over the line when you intentionally paint a picture that establishes an incomplete understanding that misleads your customers for your own gain.
Expressing Ideas Through Story Telling
Bringing this back to content marketing – a fundamental aspect of content marketing is telling stories that connect with your audience imparting the message of what you, your business, and your products are all about. We know that stories are powerful tools for connecting with people because they engage both the intellect and the emotions.
Of course, many stories, by their nature, are fiction. Stories may be based on true events but, we intentionally and necessarily filter out components of the events to establish a clear point. There’s nothing wrong with that. For example, if you’re telling a story about the horrors of texting while driving, it probably doesn’t matter what brand of phone the person was using, or how many miles were on the car before the fatal accident. Certain aspects of the event don’t contribute to the point you are establishing. Including them would distract and confuse your audience.
Why Are You Telling Me This?
Another example – I have a friend who is excessively wordy. She has a tendency to get bogged down in large quantities of unnecessary details to the point where sometimes I have to smile and say, “OK. Why are you telling me this? What’s the point?”
So what’s my point? My point is that, as a content marketer, it’s important to be able to create engaging content – stories that connect both emotionally and intellectually with your audience. You have to establish a clear vision for the purpose of each piece of content you create. As you tell the story to achieve that purpose you will, necessarily, leave out some details for the sake of focus and clarity. The key is not to sell out your own character while selling your products.
It’s Not The News, It’s The Narrative
Sharing news about your company is part of a good marketing strategy. So, let’s look at this in the context of news. Political news is especially notorious for embedded bias. In fact, it’s virtually impossible to find actual news anymore because everything is presented in terms of “narrative.” The word “narrative” is really the new word for spin. Unfortunately, redefining words is a common pattern in today’s culture. Once a word begins to have a negative connotation, people just pick a new, fresh word. Then they just assign the definition of the old, tarnished word to the new word.
When people talk about “controlling the narrative” what they mean is only including the details that support their version of the story. This is not their version in the sense that it is an honest account from their perspective. Instead, it is their misleading story that represents the issue in the way they want you to see it. Regardless of truth or facts, it is the story they want you to believe because it benefits them. So, when you hear people talking about who is controlling the narrative, what that really means is who is the most convincing with their lies.
Take Words With You
You care about your business. You care about your customers and want them to be genuinely happy with your products. You want people to respect and identify with your brand. You want people to feel good about being part of the community you are creating. If you create a narrative around your business or try to spin stories to your benefit, your audience will eventually see through it. You won’t be authentic. You will lose trust and your audience.
Instead, take words with you that express your passion. Create stories that clearly present the benefits of your products. Work to perfect the art of effective writing and story telling. Develop the skill of focusing on what’s important without distracting, unrelated details. Build all of this on the platform of your character founded on honesty.
Communication is a very challenging thing. It’s fun and rewarding, but it’s really hard to take what is in your mind and in your heart and accurately place that in someone else’s mind. Take words with you that express your ideas so that how things seem is, in fact, how things really are.