SPARKING CONVERSATIONS: IMPACT STORYTELLING AT THE 2024 GREEN MEDIA SUMMIT

The second annual Green Media Summit, which was held at the Javits Center in New York City, made its mark in the digital advertising industry by highlighting the crucial theme of accelerating climate action.

A notable event in the world of digital advertising, thought leaders gathered to explore the role of media in sustainability and understand how to convert these conversations into real change. Which ultimately highlighted the umbrella question — how can the media industry accelerate these actions? 

With powerful remarks from The Carbon Almanac founder, Seth Godin, to a keynote by Scope3’s Brian O’Kelley, one unconventional solution caught attention — impact storytelling. Klever’s Chief Marketing Officer, Dave Winslow, provided a compelling argument that suggested companies who excel at storytelling will see benefits that extend far beyond profit.

“We, as marketers and brands, have to tell the stories that connect consumers. Consumers then vote; policies get changed; and that's where the biggest impact can be made.” explains Winslow.

Winslow noted that shifting the traditional marketing paradigm to telling stories of impact is an effective antidote needed to bring about real transformation. 

(ROI) RETURN ON IMPACT 

“When we talk about sustainability, we talk about the future. What story are we going to tell?”

Commercial and film director of Liars & Thieves! and storyteller, Josh ‘Bones’ Murphy, took to the stage and offered the audience a thought-provoking challenge: to what extent are marketers and businesses ready to embrace change?

“Advertising and marketing equals sales. Impact equals action.” states Murphy. “We have the chance, specifically as media people, to tell new stories. And, I think it’s really important that we understand the implications of the stories we tell.”

Businesses rely on a for-profit model where ROI (return on investment) is primarily centered around facts and figures. However, Murphy introduced a new perspective on ROI. ROI, in the age of environmental and social responsibility, should be re-defined as "return on impact" simply because doing the right thing is always profitable. Many brands have already proven this model to be successful, perhaps the most notable being Patagonia. 

In 2022, Patagonia “went purpose” by ensuring its $100 million in annual profits went toward combating climate change and protecting underdeveloped land across the world. Through its mission and unwavering commitment to the planet, Patagonia has demonstrated that companies can successfully thrive as a for-profit entity while committed to an ethos of “purpose beyond profit”. 

HOW TO TELL A BETTER STORY 

The role of impactful storytelling is highly valuable, but often an untapped resource for marketers and advertisers. Impact storytelling is concrete, authentic, and has the ability to deliver a convincing message. So, how can brands apply this model to their own messaging? Narratives crafted should not only be vibrant and compelling, but offer hope for the future. 

“If you take away hope, people have no agency to strive. What we are doing here is trying to propel people with hope. Without it, if people think the mountain is too big to climb, they will not climb that mountain.” explains Murphy. 

Marketers and advertisers are in a unique position to motivate change through their messaging and media platforms. To apply impact storytelling, Murphy offers four practical tips from his experience as a prominent storyteller and film director. 

  • Rule 1: Don’t be boring. Good storytelling should keep your audience engaged.
    Rule 2: Telling good stories isn’t enough. Media professionals need to widely distribute and creatively promote those messages to get people moving. 
  • Rule 3: Tell real stories; even if it’s not perfect. Impact storytelling is about progress, not perfection. 
  • Rule 4: Be mindful of the stories you share. Don’t exaggerate the truth because it can quickly turn into greenwashing.

Ultimately, when messaging includes stories that shed light on important issues, no matter how big or small, marketers can create a recipe for collective action. 

BECOMING A VOICE OF CHANGE 

It’s important to remember that impact storytelling is more than just your brand’s sustainability report. Stories connect people to a cause —driving action and bringing about change. So focus on stories that are authentic, actionable, and best highlight your organization's work. 

To effectively engage in impact storytelling, it's crucial to grasp the interests and motivations of your audience. By doing so, you not only create a convincing argument that you’re walking the walk, but you can develop a messaging plan that organically rallies individuals around your organization's mission. 

KEY TAKEAWAYS 

The Green Media Summit underscored the importance of being a voice for change. When your story resonates, your brand becomes a catalyst for positive change. Share impactful stories — stories that motivate and inspire, seed hope, create an impact, and encourage change.

Learn about Klever’s commitment to sustainable advertising here.

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