Story First Marketing
Story First Marketing engages the audience through an emotion-based story in which a brand, product or point-of-view is integral to the story and its completion. I present talks, lead workshops and offer supporting content on Story First Marketing. Learn more and get FREE STUFF at www.bradcochrane.com.
I also offer professional services such as writing, product story consulting and video production. I'd love to work with you on your next project. Learn more at www.bradcochrane.com
Christmas is canceled and it’s up to Johnny Johnson to save it. Meet the magical family behind Christmas and the ordinary guy they’re all counting on.
In the Spirit is a holiday fable guaranteed to put a smile in your heart.
Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (October 2013)
I seem to be on a roll with my mystery stories as I garnished yet another small win.
In the Mysterious Photograph contest, entrants submit a 250 word mystery story inspired by a supplied photo. In this case, crumpled paper and a frustrated writer reveals the truth...
Delmond crumpled the paper in disgust. One good story, that’s all he wanted. Something accepted by any pulp-paper magazine, validation by an over-worked under-paid editor and perhaps a word of well done. When they did write back, the no-thanks answer was nearly always the same “too ordinary” or “unimaginative” or, occasionally, useful advice such as “the stranger your story, the more likely people are to believe it.”
Delmond sipped his coffee and returned to the ledger and the reality of his day job as company accountant. He was careful to line the numbers up neatly. People believed in numbers and never questioned his columns. If a paper ream cost $2.97 and a furniture placement consultant cost $12,452.73 then that’s what it cost. Although the boss may grumble about the high cost of paper he was more than happy to pay the consultant fee. That’s how Delmond was able to silently siphon money from the company to a non-existent consultant to his bank account.
Yet every ledger has two sides and to explain the extra income to the IRS and his wife, Delmond sold imaginary stories to magazines that existed only in his own mind. He was thought of quite highly by friends and family as a successful writer. But for all his manufactured fame, he had yet to sell a single story to a real magazine.
So Delmond spent his days creating fantastic ledger entries and writing ordinary stories. His facts were stranger than his fiction.
Contrary to popular belief, crime does pay.
But there's always a cost.
So starts my new mystery story... Crime Pays
Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (May 2013)
As modest as I try to be, I have to admit that it's always a kick to get some recognition. I don't know how it happened but my first ever mystery story is getting some traction.
In the Mysterious Photograph contest, entrants submit a 250 word mystery story inspired by a supplied photo. In this case, an old crate with dusty wine bottles reveal a secret...
“For the last one,” murmured Karl as he absently gazed upon the wine bottles unseen for many years, many decades. Heinrich gone now, sturdy Heinrich whose body fought every step of the way but inevitably failed him. And Gerhadt early on. Johan somewhat later but in the end all from his infanterie kader gone until he was the last one and his duty to drink a final toast to his comrades.
His comrades, his friends who had gone through hell together. But the pact was made before that, in the glorious days when they swept through France and took what they wanted as invincible victors. At the farmhouse, they took what they wanted –including the girl. Her father, her stupid French peasant papa’, ignorant of what went on in the barn while presenting them with the case of wine and wishing them further glorious adventure.
They thought it a great joke and that’s when they made the pact, the wine to be saved until the last one was left and the dead ones brought back together for a final toast, for a final moment of glory. And from the vantage point of youth, it was a day never to come. But here it was at last.
Karl raised his glass in salute and drank, ignoring the bitterness of a wine improperly stored, a bitterness masking the taste of the poison put there so many years ago.
“For the last one.”
The thing I like about You Tube is that it's like an old trunk in the attic full of forgotten memories until you open it. Every now and then, an old video of mine will surface. Case in point: an MTV news story I shot about Spinal Tap. Check it out here and read my story of that day below.
I should have known something was up as my producer Nancy Stevens was wearing a slight mischevious smile. In those days, I was a video cameraman shooting rock star interviews and backstage stories for MTV News. I had seen my share of rising stars and fading glories so thought nothing of it when we met an aging band of hard rockers trying to hold onto their moment. Some washed-up actor had done a movie documentary about them which had premiered the night before. This morning, we were going to spend the day with them in a desperate attempt at promotion.
We waited for them in an empty ill-used theater in San Francisco's strip club district and suddely they strode in from the darkness all ego and serious self-importance. Here we go again, I thought, and dutifully went through the morning shooting interviews and cover shots. From my perch behind the lens, I was amused as they did and said the things every band does but somehow took it one step over the edge. These guys are really something, I thought and looked forward to lunch.
After lunch, the band came back in but now without their rock star make-up, costume and hairy wigs. Oh, man! It was that guy from Laverne and Shirley and Christopher Guest and that other sorta familiar actor. And the director of the film, the guy that we are now interviewing is Meathead from All In the Family. What the hell?
Nancy asked her first question," So the name of the film is This is Spinal Tap, a comedic take on an imaginary rock band, a mockumentary if you will. At first, it seems serious until the joke slowly dawns on the audience. How do you think people will feel once they realize they've been had?"
For the briefest of moments, Nancy turned to me and smiled.
The latest trend in communications is “storytelling.”
But real storytelling is hard. Sure you can throw together a bunch of words, describe product features, regurgitate interviews, insert pictures, create cool graphics and compose killer music. Then comb out the knots and polish by committee. That doesn’t mean that you have a story --something that engages emotionally and moves someone to action.
Storytelling is simple. The most basic story structure is Exposition> Complication> Resolution. This simple structure is everywhere and is how we humans see the world. We want to know what is, what’s changed, and what happens next.
Here’s an example:
Exposition: Back in prehistoric times, Trogg was standing around with a stick in his hand. Grokk, standing a ways off, had a rock in his hand and a smile on his face.
Complication: Grokk threw the rock at Trogg who then swings his stick at the rock.
Resolution: Baseball is born.
The scores, statistics and stadiums are just details to this basic story: A batter stands at the plate. A pitcher throws a baseball at the plate. Something happens.
What draws us in and makes the story our own is that question of what happens next. Strike, ball or hit? Did we guess right?
Of course, once the ball crosses the plate, another story begins. And so forth.
Put this simple structure into every script and you’ll have a video that tells a story and can engage and move people. A great story is not a tale about someone else but about our own emotional journey that we experience though that story.
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