I think BMJ has a tough time telling stories about it's products. It's often as a result of having very comprehensive, complex, offerings. But if we can't explain ourselves well, then that's a huge barrier to entry for potential customers. YouTube is the 2nd most popular search engine in the world. And we don't have enough videos that explain what we do and why it's important.

These are cool little story examples from Google, that really SHOW what they do, rather than just tell. Because once people 'get it' they will just get stuck in and experiment.

I struggle to find a better example of storytelling than this. It is a great mix of abstract, concrete, subtle and really clear objectives. I wish I'd come up with this idea for BMJ Learning...


For examples of great, simple, storytelling; I thoroughly recommend looking at the Humans of New York Facebook page. Check out at the insane levels of positive, interesting, engagement on there. We need to get really good at extracting people's stories. They tell you so much more than words alone can. Engaging you sit forward and think how you can help. (Vital for busy health professionals).

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“Alopecia is a weird disease to wrap your head around. It causes your immune system to turn against your body, and your hair falls out. I used to have a big blond fro that was a big part of my identity. It was hard to not get depressed when it disappeared. I started to think: ‘What value do I have if even my body doesn’t like itself?’ As I lost more and more hair, I kept trying to comb my remaining hair over my bald spots. Eventually I had to embrace it. On my 20th birthday, I decided that instead of having a bunch of little bald spots that I don’t like, I'm going to give myself one big one that I do like.”

“Alopecia is a weird disease to wrap your head around. It causes your immune system to turn against your body, and your hair falls out. I used to have a big blond fro that was a big part of my identity. It was hard to not get depressed when it disappeared. I started to think: ‘What value do I have if even my body doesn’t like itself?’ As I lost more and more hair, I kept trying to comb my remaining hair over my bald spots. Eventually I had to embrace it. On my 20th birthday, I decided that instead of having a bunch of little bald spots that I don’t like, I'm going to give myself one big one that I do like.”

I enjoyed this video of the photographer explaining how he approaches strangers in the street and gets their stories. When I ran this excercise in BMJ we got so many great photos and stories.

And we can find these stories on our own doorstep...

I once got a comment on a BMJ Learning video saying 'I just rereferred a patient after watching this video as I now suspect they have dystonia'

THAT'S AN AMAZING STORY... IT speaks to exactly what BMJ Learning should be about. and is much more powerful than us saying 'we change lives'.... A debilitating, but highly treatable disease gets picked up from a BMJ product. Did the patient's life change?

We must have a bunch of stories like this. When we have a great story, let's invest in telling it properly... We can subtly weave a specific story with abstract concepts to create a powerful narrative about our products. Or to enhance our education content. To make people be engaged, and sit forward and pay attention to how they can help. To why they should consume the rest of this content. To have something to share and encourage people to read a full article..

When we don't have the perfect story, we can just make them up! That's the beauty of stories. They should feel authentic, but people will tolerate the abstract, and respond on a more human level.

Dear Sophie is a cheesy, but made up story, we should be doing this for our products... 

Check out Story Corps a series of interviews conducted by friends and family. They now have an app where you can interview people on your smartphone, with question prompts and recording functions. They then picked some of the best interviews and invested in some animations which often go viral. A really good model for online content.

There are so many good story podcasts, check out Everything is Stories, Love and Radio [BEWARE DARK THEMES], 99% Invisible.

I think this piece is amazing, engaging film. I think BMJ could do something similar for Junior Doctors, talking about their life in general and then their mistakes, or times when things didn't go to plan. I really hope we can be a bit more abstract. 

This one is a real emotive one, that again weaves abstract (bad haircuts of being 16) with the specific, disease of malignant melanoma. It's safe to say this had a much bigger impact than any other film they could have made. This film saved lives, because people saw how it fit into their lives and felt compelled to share it on. We need to harness that power in our own content.

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