Congratulations on joining Vero ASEAN as Storytelling Director! Can you tell us a little more about this role?
Thank you, I am excited about this role. The title “Storytelling” may sound new, but in fact, it has been around far longer than “Branding” and “Communications.” When applied to the modern business world, storytelling is a more natural and well-adapted term for referring to how brands now communicate with audiences. Because brands who care about the message provided to audiences realize that it is not just one message or one ad or email; it is a whole story, a whole journey. Beyond all, storytelling is the most effective way to engage audiences. Brands that focus on storytelling are the ones who believe they have a story to share with people whose lives they want to enrich. Even if there is a long journey ahead, and they might not know what story to tell yet, it is still very powerful.
When it comes to my new responsibilities as a Storytelling Director, I will oversee unlocking, planning, and developing worded content from brands that Vero works with. How my team and I bring their stories to the world, whether that’s through video, in-person interactions, or events, will always be aligned with the core story that brands are trying to tell.
This role requires not just your expertise but also leadership. What makes a good leader, in your opinion?
A good leader listens and understands the talents and values of every person working with them. Being a good leader is about truly knowing the people they are leading, considering their potential, skills, and their gifts inside-out; so that the leader knows whom to talk to when a particular vision needs to be executed.
Have you heard about Vero before? What values from Vero reflect your career goals? And what will you do to help shape a new vision and strategy for Vero’s clients?
From what I have seen in my interactions with the agency over time, Vero is good-natured, kind, humane, and vision-focused, which are all values that I am aligned with personally and professionally. The fact that I not only work with Vero Bangkok but with other teams across the region, in four other countries is immensely powerful to me. I support the approach of working together, professionally yet thoughtfully, in a way where everyone is winning. Career-wise, I see myself working in Southeast Asia. Though it is hard to predict what the future holds, I know this is where I will always want to be.
As I mentioned previously, my first task is to understand Vero’s clients thoroughly to figure out what they want and make potential suggestions to steer them in the right direction. With any strategy we must target the right audience group while collecting data. No vision or strategy is the same; neither is the story. But understanding the audience of each brand allows Vero to determine what strategy and vision to take. Also, understanding the brand inside-out is vital to unlock and nurture their stories. As a Storytelling Director, I will work closely with clients to uncover their stories and give the best possible service that Vero can deliver.
Can you share a storytelling PR campaign that inspired you, and why?
One that stands out to me is the She’s campaign from Mercedes. The brand chose women from different countries in key industries and effectively gave them a platform to share their stories and network with others. It was a brilliant idea that expanded globally, building networks, and connecting women; while educating and empowering those who wish to carve out a career in those select industries. It did not just involve videos; it combined dialogue, as well as word of mouth, proving it to be the best type of campaign. It took on its own life to the extent that it transcended being a campaign. It was its whole animal and so interactive with its audience.
Does a good story mean you are painting a positive picture and hiding all that darkness?
No, it does not. A good story is a story that people can relate to. It is a story that shares common humanity, touches on emotions, and talks about obstacles just as much as it highlights successes. Real brands can tell real stories, too; it doesn’t always have to be positive. Now, more than ever, brands get more respect for being real. But they must be real in a way that speaks to who they really are. That is where we come in — to support clients telling their stories the most effectively and authentically.
How do storytellers discover and unearth the stories that they want to be told?
A lot of digging, understanding, research, and talking to key decision-makers and founders; therefore, listening is the key.
Considering the digital landscape, we are living in, as a storyteller, do you think it is important to ensure that the data tells the story you think it does?
In a time when opinions have been turned into facts and things are not always fact-checked, it can get a bit chaotic. A storyteller should be able to ensure that their clients are getting as close and as exact to the data as possible, and if necessary, use that data to permeate the stories that are told. Accurate data talks, numbers speak. It is important to make sure those numbers are correct. Meanwhile, stories are also stories; they may not be exact, but they are symbolic and crafted to serve a purpose and connect with the audience. There is a fine line between using data to create a character to portray a point in a story to lying about something completely. The latter should never be done. One more thing to keep in mind is what one person thinks the data says about the story may not be what another person thinks. That is why there must be feedback, collaboration, and team spirit. As a storyteller, I think it is important to ensure that incorrect or harmful messaging is not relayed.
What is the connection between data and storytelling, in your opinion? How is the industry adopting this approach?
Data gives rise to storytelling, and it is a part of storytelling. Thanks to data intelligence, brands and businesses have a particularly good view of consumer insights, which helps them tailor the approach for their messaging; or they can use data to activate customers and improve business performance. With data, businesses have a better understanding of where to communicate stories. For example, 5-minute screen time on a 5-minute video is determined as success, and the business is heading in the right direction. Data speaks, so brands and marketers need to use it wisely and fairly while respecting digital and data privacy.
How can you measure the success of a storytelling strategy?
There are diverse types of measurement from data analytics, feedback, sales, client satisfaction, and the audience’s reaction. It always comes down to the strategy and the channel being used to communicate.