Why Your Stories Need an Onion Volcano

The challenge of any storyteller is to get people to see and feel and appreciate your story. I believe you need a little fire to do that.

We can debate the numbers, but I have seen various surveys that show about 70% of millennials have a FOMO. It means the “fear of missing out”. Younger news consumers are not just looking to expand their minds, they are looking for experiences. Instead of sitting in a room alone listening to music, they will spend hundreds of dollars and drive hundreds of miles to attend the concert. It’s the experience they want, not necessarily the music. Another example is food. Many would rather invest their time and money going to a trendy restaurant and posting the pictures on social media, than getting satisfaction out of cooking a meal at home.

I am not judging if this is right or wrong. The fact is, it is real and if we are going to inspire, influence or mentor people with the FOMO, we need to get them to experience news not just watch it. This is where the onion volcano comes in.Whe ther you are producing an individual story for TV or digital or you are putting together an hour of news Monday through Friday, you need to ask yourself which parts of the story are going to be remembered. When we go to one of those Japanese grill places, what do we talk about? Sure, we will say the food was good and the chef at the table was funny, but we all remember the fire. Even if we have seen it scores of times, we always wait for and take pictures of the flaming onion volcano. I call it the FOMO moment. We are afraid we are going to miss it. It’s part of the experience.

So, if you want your story to make an impression on younger news viewers, give them a FOMO moment. It’s the one element of the story, whether in writing or video or sound that the viewer will talk about and remember. It could be a sound bite, interview, picture or production technique. It could be your unique standup or maybe it’s an exclusive angle to the story. It is the “experience” of your story or newscast. That is what millennial viewers are craving. Give them a new viewing experience they can share. If you do, they will invest their time with you because, if they don’t, they might be afraid of missing out. Give them a flaming volcano of alcohol and onion along with the great food and drink (your information and facts) and they will watch your stories and newscasts.

How Country Music Can Improve Your Storytelling

Have you seen Ken Burns PBS documentary about country music? It confirms what I have believed for a very long time. If you want to improve your storytelling, listen to country music and feel it. He says it’s the intervals between the notes that tell the story. The same is true for you. The intervals between the copy or the sound bites will give your pieces “soul”.

What we as reporters do on television or radio, internet or over the top is very powerful. If we stay in our “head” and report the facts, we are cheating ourselves and the viewers. If we move our stories to our hearts, we will become powerful influences in the lives of the people who we serve.

Country songs are passionate, personal, emotional and real. We always joke that in country songs we lose the house, the car, the girlfriend, the boyfriend or the job. We lose the will, the loved one or the desire. It’s real life.

When you are assigned a story or you have an idea for a possible story, think about how you would write a country music song about that story. Silly? I don’t think so. That story will move someone or change someone or help someone or convince someone and that is why we celebrate great storytellers. I am not talking about ignoring the facts. I am talking about finding the passion or emotion in each story we do.

So, listen to country music. Listen to the words and the passion. Listen to the hurt or the excitement. Listen to the pain. When you pitch a story at the next morning meeting, tell it like a country song. You will do more than convince the minds of those in charge, you will convince their hearts.