Genuine Messaging: Why Yours is the Only Story You Should Tell

I sit at the back of our office, in a windowless office with a very thick door. The walls are a bit thin, but with the right white noise app or the monotone of an academic lecture, I manage to stay the course, so to speak. Some may want the big window, the sunlight, some scene to look upon, but not me. A fly will distract me. I’m the type of person who looks up to see if there are any planes leaving white contrails across the sky. I wonder what the people inside those planes are doing, if they are having a conversation with someone they never planned to sit next to, or if they still serve peanuts in the wake of a new generation of seemingly rampant nut allergies. 

My point is, and I hope it is obviously illustrated, I am easily distracted. I share this with a massive population of consumers who have been conditioned by short-form media to crave instant information gratification. Couple short-form media (popularized even further by the COVID-19 quarantine-fueled success of TikTok and its adoption by a wide age demographic) with emulation and imitation, piece of content after piece of content being created, one barely indistinguishable from the other, and we have a sea of nameless voices, barely memorable and sometimes funny; all-around filler with very little substance. If genuine messaging was rain, we are seemingly in a drought.

How do you stand out? How do you matter to a population that seems to constantly be consuming without any significant thought to the actual value in the information they are accessing? How do you trust an influencer whose only job, occupation, bread and proverbial butter is to sell without any significant engagement? You want to know why people bought Wheaties, Gatorade, Nike and Hanes? Because the person endorsing was a hypercompetitive consummate overachiever who never quit, who won six NBA titles, who was told he was too short by his high school basketball coach and so did everything after to show his worth. He had drive. He had substance. His story is legendary and worth emulating. Compared to the junk food of today’s internet-famous tabloid stars, he is an example of sorely needed nutrition and taste. 

I recently watched “The Last Dance,” on ESPN. I finished the 10-episode series in less than two days. The depth and length of the content, the story of one of the most driven athletes in history sucked me in—and I don’t really care that much for basketball. It was a genuine look at what it really takes to succeed, to have staying power, to be more than average and to do more than anyone expected of you. It was inspiring. It was real—and that resonated.

The visual medium is powerful. While so many people had to work from home for fear of the initial wave of infections during the pandemic, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts all saw wide use for good reason. Genuine messaging, real evokable emotion, is perceived much more efficiently when it is visual. It is the same reason why platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Tiktok are all such powerful tools in user persuasion. People like to see things. We have visual acuity and an ability to perceive detail, color and movement that surpasses most organisms that share this planet and we have developed as such. Social media platforms tap into this visual hunger, but few really satisfy—few are more than shiny objects. 

The “Humans” series, beginning with “Humans of New York,” is one such media project that is more than fluff. It is simplistic in its design. Take a high-quality photo. Get three pictures from the subject of the pictures. Have them tell their story. Oftentimes, these stories are tragic or hopeful or both. Humans has chapters, I guess you’d call them, in different cities and 20-plus countries all over the world.  Brandon Stanton began the project in 2010 with the goal of photographing 10,000 New Yorkers and eventually began to interview his subjects. HONY now has over 20 million social media followers. The format never changed—just people telling their stories. That’s it. 

You may say, “But, they’re not marketing.” They are. They’re just not selling you anything. The lesson from Humans of New York and The Last Dance is that consumers of media don’t need a fabricated, fictional image to engage. They want to relate. We can relate to the kid from North Carolina who was told he was too small, or the girl who talks about growing up in the United States when her father did not. We have all lived something similar and, through media and marketing, we can be a part of those stories.

I think too often we can get caught up in what we do as if that is not part of who we are. If you want to build a website, write a blog, develop a marketing campaign, do everything you can to engage your users, but engage them as you—your name, your story, your experience—you. Be genuine.

During the first days of the pandemic, when the streets were so quiet and most businesses were dark, I didn’t really get it. But then, when I started to really reengage in society, my level of excitement was at a gleeful level. I just wanted to hear what they were up to, how they were, to be in a room with them and have a real conversation. I didn’t want a production, a song and dance, a show. I just wanted genuine human contact. Every page you build, every piece of marketing you put out is an opportunity to do just that, to pour more of yourself into it, to tell a story that is uniquely yours. And trust me, it’s worth telling. 


Recruiters Websites specializes in creative, original and effective storytelling that will engage your audience with real genuine messaging and leave them with a true sense of who you are as a company. Don’t let genuine messaging and effective communication fall to fluff. Contact us today.

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Cole Windler

Cole Windler is a copywriter and SEO expert. He uses his creative writing background to create fresh, compelling and customized content for Recruiters Websites clients.

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