Chris Benevich Q&A
I was attracted to the work of Chris Benevich and her company Panache Writing because of her Compelling StorytellingSM technique. I’m excited to learn more about it and her.
Bio of Chris in her own words: In 2003, I launched my independent writing and communications consultancy. I have had the honor to serve a variety of companies around the country, including the Sun-Times Media Group, Ciao Italy Travel, Jones Lang LaSalle, Lannon Communications, ChronicBabe.com, United Scrap Metal, and WisdomTools. Clients receive a considerate, strategic approach, resulting in a piece written in the right style for the right portal.
In 2008, I noticed many companies have the same problem. They do not know how to differentiate in a good market, much less a challenging economy. Good writing affects your bottom line. I founded Panache Writing, Inc. to help companies, clients, consumers, and brands find each other through compelling storytelling. Panache Writing, Inc. helps your company find its voice among the competition.
I belong to Independent Writers of Chicago and Chicago Women in Publishing. I served over a year as a co-host for Jupitermedia Corporation’s mediabistro.com Chicago, connecting hundreds of Chicagoland’s communications and media professionals. I have spoken about and led panels on communications best practices for several organizations, including at the Community Media Workshop’s Making Media Connections Conference.
Q&A with Chris Benevich:
Q: If you could identify a person or organization who desperately needs to tell a better story, who or what would it be?
A: Wasn’t this the thrust of the Obama campaign, that our country needs to engage more people — both our neighbors next door and our friends overseas — in policy dialog and social-justice activity?
Q: What future trends or directions to do foresee for story/storytelling/narrative? What’s next for the discipline? What future aspirations do you personally have for your own story work?
A: As we see more people get comfortable with online tools, we’ll see more multimedia expressions of storytelling and more collaboration. Instead of one griot per community, we’ll have teams of them, from all different cultures, all piping in from around the globe. Personally, I’m fascinated by the nonlinear story and by stories that change based on the reader’s choices. I think multimedia platforms are perfect for this art form.
Q: If you could share just one piece of advice or wisdom about story/storytelling/narrative with readers, what would it be?
A: There’s a Zimbabwean proverb that goes something like, “If you can walk, you can dance; if you can talk, you can sing.” If you have a story to tell, don’t wait for formal training or to be appointed or for special inspiration. It’s your birthright to contribute to humanity’s fabric of shared experience and knowledge.
Q: Without give away all your secrets, can you discuss some components of a compelling branded story? Which story that you crafted for a client are you most proud of (if you don’t want to reveal the client’s identity, perhaps you can describe this story in general terms)?
A: Oh, there are no secrets! As a matter of fact, I’m offering a free teleseminar on Compelling StorytellingSM that anyone can sign up for and use. But, first, let’s back up a bit. Remember that stories are meant to engage, to involve, to literally get into someone’s head. So, say I’m networking at a local chamber of commerce meeting and get a lot of flat “hmm, that’s interesting” comments. I know that I’m not connecting. Anytime you, a business owner, talk with someone, think of it as instant market research! Listen, pay attention; what is this other human being needing that I, or someone in my network, can help with? Have different questions and replies swirling in your head that you can try out on the spot.
Now, let’s talk about how to adapt those replies in three quick ways. One, be specific, concrete. Don’t just give your title; tie yourself into an anecdote that will resonate and, ultimately, be memorable. Two, give clear benefits. Doesn’t every business owner want to help clients save time and money? Try explaining how you do this differently from your competitors. Three, be honest. Marketing and sales sometimes gets tagged as just bloating and sugarcoating your offerings, but people see right through this.