Fischer’s Narrative Theory, as described by Edgar and Volkman in Using Communication Theory for Health Promotion: Practical Guidance on Message Design and Strategy, reflects the fundamental premise of The Storytelling Animal: We are all storytellers; we all relate to story
In Mediated communication of ‘sustainable consumption’ in the alternative media: a case study exploring a message framing strategy, Kolandai-Matchett describe a sustainable consumption mediated communications campaign in Christchurch, New Zealand, as having an “emotional appeal,” which was influenced by the notion of caring. The campaign featured workers in developing countries and other negative effects of consumerism. In essence, the campaign told a story – providing context for the need for sustainable consumption.
Stories provide the context for ideas and are an effective means of communications, particularly with regard for advocating change. Tips from a Smoker, an anti-smoking campaign featuring Terrie Hall, a woman whose voice box was removed as part of her cancer recovery treatment, is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to have influenced about 100,000 Americans to quit smoking.
While the story and the storyteller need to be compelling, there is the potential for one or both to overshadow the message. For example, remember the YouTube video of the woman sitting on the toilet. There was certainly a story involved there – but none of us could remember the name of the product being promoted. When does the story overshadow the message? How do we maintain that balance?