4 — Storytelling: Take a publisher's mindset and tell stories that cut through the clutter

Why does storytelling matter?

It all started in Rushville Center, population 4,000. This is where Ma Perkins ran her lumberyard and raised her three children: Evey, Fay, and John. Ma Perkins was the title character in NBC's longest-running radio drama. First broadcast in 1933, it stayed on the air for 27 years. The show was scripted by Robert “Bob” Hardy Andrews, a singularly prolific writer who is said to have churned out 100,000 words per week on average. In his prime, he wrote the scripts for seven daily radio shows at the same time. He worked from noon to midnight every day, fuelled by five packs of cigarettes and 40 cups of coffee.1

Got your attention? Behold the power of storytelling. Telling stories is what this chapter is all about, and we didn't pick Ma Perkins at random. Sponsored by Oxydol, a former Procter & Gamble detergent brand, it is widely regarded as the world's first soap opera. Bob Andrews got listeners hooked by telling stories they could relate to, and Ma Perkins may well be P&G's most successful consumer engagement platform of all time. The show ran five days a week and mentioned Oxydol's name up to 25 times in each episode. P&G received 5,000 letters complaining about the aggressive product placement. But when they were offered a reward for proof of an Oxydol purchase, listeners mailed more than a million box tops to P&G. By the end of the show's first year on ...

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