How to Story: What You Can Learn From a Journalist As an Event Planner

Why does Apple succeed in getting people to wait in line for the new iPhone and Microsoft doesn't? Tim Verheyden believes it has everything to do with storytelling. He has written a book about it and explains what you can learn from a journalist as an event planner.

Kevin Van der Straeten
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Why does Apple succeed in getting people to wait in line for the new iPhone and Microsoft doesn't? Tim Verheyden believes it has everything to do with storytelling. He has written a book about it and explains what you can learn from a journalist as an event planner.

Hi Tim, welcome in our studio.


Hi, thanks for having me.


You're a journalist, a video journalist. What can we as an event planner learn from your profession?

A lot I think, first of all: experience. Everything I do on television is about experience, about connecting with the viewer. True stories, I make, that's I need as a journalist in this case but also as an event planner.


Can you give an example of that? What do you mean with it?


Yeah, for example: what Apple is doing is not selling iPhones, but it's selling an experience. The same thing with Starbucks: they're not selling coffee, they're selling an experience. If you walk into the store, you can sit there, work on your laptop, you can buy a coffee, you get a story of the coffee beans that are produced...


And even names on the cup.


Even names on the cup. That's more and more you see, for example on Instagram. There is this brand for shaving stuff. And they have an Instagram account, and what they sell is not their shaving equipment; they sell stories instead. So you see a picture of people, young and trendy people, in the suburbs of San Francisco or downtown New York. They sell an experience around their product, and apparently that's working. You have to find a universal connection between yourself, the product and the viewer or the buyer.


We're talking about stories, storytelling. What makes a good story?

People make a good story, not numbers. Last week we got a meeting with a company who were pitching a story to me about food waste. All these files with number. But it's hard to make a story out of numbers, so you have to have people who tell the story. And that's very important, and most companies forget about that. They think: okay, we have a dossier with numbers. We can sell it to, for example me, a journalist. But that's wrong. You have to have people who tell a story; no people, no story.


So we have people to make a story. Any other elements?


I think the most important element is the universal connection. For example, if I as a journalist make a story about a young child who is starving in Africa, that's a story that will touch me, but it's set in a location which we hardly know because we live in Belgium. And if you make a story about a young child that is begging for money, gets the money, and has to make a choice; what will I do with the money? Buy some food for myself or for my mother who is very very sick? That's a story I can connect with, because everyone know how tough it is to make certain choices in life. And that's what a good story needs; a universal connection.


Okay, so we can try to apply those things to an event. If you look at the future. How do you see that for video journalism?


The future is bright for journalism, for TV journalism, because TV is more than that little machine in your living room. TV is on your smartphone, on your tablets. It's even old linear TV. For example, if you see VICE News; that's a channel with 5 million subscribers on Youtube. What they are doing is making stories all around the world about difficult topics. For example, a journalist from VICE stayed a few weeks in the company of IS in the Middle East and they made a series of 4-5 stories about it.

What we do on mainstream media is copy the story and to show it on TV but it's first brought online. Another example: a company, a NGO in Holland, they made a story about pedophiles on the internet. They create an own story, launched it online, and the mainstream media copied it and broadcasted it on linear TV. So as a company you have to be the media. So we, as an old school journalist, can bring it eh...


But will this mean the end of traditional media?


I don't think it will be the end of traditional media, but TV as we know it, and that's what Reed Hastings always says, whom I met last week, the guy from Netflix, will be dead in 20 years, and I think there will be a big change because nowadays you have to wait for 8 'o clock to watch your daily soap. And then another TV show. In the future the TV I think will be like a big smart-TV: you click on an app and you can see three episodes of your favorite TV-show. And then for an example at 7 o' clock there will be something going flickering saying: "hey there is a live event at 7 'o clock, news is beginning". I think that is the future of TV. So TV is not dead at all, but the future is very interesting.


And you guys also have a blog on the subject.


Yes we have a blog, we have a book in Dutch, and we have a blog: There will be topics on storytelling in Dutch, but also in English.


Thank you Tim.

And you at home, thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week.