TechMunch: What the 2018 World Cup can teach tech companies about storytelling

I have a confession to make. I hate football. And I particularly loathe tournaments like the World Cup because of the amount of football that’s on TV every single day. So why am I taking the time to write a blog post about the beautiful game?

Well, England’s penalty shoot-out victory against Colombia on Tuesday night suddenly had me on the edge of my seat. I found myself shouting at the TV, urging Harry Kane not to miss the goal and watching through my fingers when Jordan Henderson’s shot was saved. How had I gone from zero engagement to actually feeling quite excited about watching England play again on Saturday?

I decided it’s to do with the narrative of the game and the way it’s told. And, when you break it down, there are lots of transferable tips and tricks that can help tech companies tell their stories in an even more engaging way and convert the cynics into advocates. So, here are my top four storytelling takeaways from this year’s World Cup:

  1. It taps into the human psyche

At its core, the story of the World Cup is centered on winning and losing. It’s a simple narrative but one that resonates in all of us. In fact, according to psychology professor Ian Robertson, of Trinity College in Dublin, “winning is probably the single most important thing in shaping people’s lives.”

It’s the same in business. Positive success stories about your company that the everyday person can relate to spurs something deep in all of us. We naturally want to be on the winning team and we want to engage with brands that are making human existence that little bit better. Whether it’s artificial intelligence transforming healthcare, or the Internet of Things making the morning commute less stressful, drilling down into how your company, your product and your service is impacting society is the key to getting people engaged in your story.

  1. The spokespeople are engaging

When Gary Lineker and Ian Wright analyse each match it’s hard to not get swept up in their enthusiasm and passion. Yes, they’re absolute experts in their subject matter but their personalities and love for the game really captivate the audience. In comparison, other pundits like Mark Lawrenson do not drive the same engagement. Their tone and analysis is seen by many viewers as dull and boring.

It’s the same with your company’s spokespeople. It’s worth spending time seeking out not only your best subject matter experts but those that can deliver the narrative in a compelling way. This is not only crucial for broadcast but even interviews for print or online pieces. Compelling soundbites, bags of enthusiasm and a magnetic delivery will not only make your story standout to your key audiences but it’ll also make journalists want to come back to you again and again to tap into your fountain of knowledge.

  1. The narrative twists and turns

13th July 1930 was the first ever World Cup tournament held in Uruguay, so the overall story has been running for quite a long time now and its history is weaved deep into every game. However, what keeps things fresh and interesting is the setting and the cast. This year, the political situation in Russia, new emerging talent on the field, surprising performances from smaller nations, and the underperformance of so called ‘football superpowers’ has resulted in the 2018 World Cup being heralded the most competitive tournament in over 30 years.

Tech companies can apply the same principles to their story telling too. Whether your overarching theme is digital transformation, AI, data or the fourth industrial revolution, find a way to ensure each time you tell your story you bring in new ideas and take advantage of external factors. One of the best places to start is to tap into the broader news agenda – what new policies has the government recently announced? Is there fresh academic research to comment on? All of these broader news hooks will give you a new starting point with which to ground your narrative and bring it up to date.

  1. The story is brought to life

For the first time ever, the BBC has shown a major tournament live in Ultra HD and delivered live World Cup coverage in VR. These innovations have allowed audiences to watch the game unfold like never before and it really helps to bring the story to life in a new and exciting way.

When communicating your business’ story it’s important to think about the best platform and format in which to tell it. Thanks to social, video, print, online, broadcast, speaker events, blogs, we are spoilt for choice on where to tell a story. But choosing the wrong format or channel can make or break a killer story. Tap into the expertise of content strategists and PR teams who can advise on where you’ll secure maximum impact and engagement in order to increase your share of voice against competitors.

They say it’s not over till it’s over and there are few things more captivating than a well told story. Whether it’s the winners of the World Cup, your company’s new product launch or an executive’s opinion on a political policy, stories are an integral part of being persuasive and building advocacy and knowing how to say something is just as important as what you are saying.

If you’d like to find out more about how FHF can support your content strategy feel free to get in touch.

Charlotte Nicholds, Technology