July 29, 2014

Hillary needs to continue to focus on being authentic—and she knows it.  This is no easy task because she has spent her whole career trying to prove that she is tough enough to be a leader – and now she needs to show that she is human enough to be a relatable.  And for those of us working women out there – we are all too familiar with the challenge she faces.  Because of who she is – and because she carries some baggage – she is going to have to show us who she REALLY is.  Because so many view her as calculated and somewhat cold, she is going to have to show us a softer side.  And the best way I have seen her do it so far is to be both specific and to tell more stories.  People want to like her – and she has recently shown us that she can be likeable.


So, if I were to give Hillary advice right now I would tell her to do two things. 

Tell MORE stories.  Hillary Clinton can tell great stories.  She has a million of them.  She was in the White House.  She was Secretary of State.  She was a Senator.  And she grew up really loving our country.  When she tells those stories she is passionate.  Whether it is her direct experience – or the story she can tell about our country – when she is just telling stories – she is at her best.  These stories do a lot of things for her:


  1. They make her relatable
  2. The play up her experience without being defensive
  3. They show how she thinks


When Hillary appeared on The Daily Show people loved it.  She ventured outside of normal political rhetoric and offers something different. She has such a unique understanding of global affairs and history.  Hillary is capable of offering up insight and knowledge of the world that few others can, and people respect and admire her for that.



Look to some of the great brands out there to learn the power of storytelling.  Brands are increasingly storytellers.  At least the best brands are.  And, right now there are some interesting lessons to learn from these brands.  For purposes of this discussion, I am going to refer to two different campaigns out right now.  One from Verizon called “inspire her mind” and one from L’Oreal starring Ellen called “Girls Can”.  Here are two lessons on storytelling based on the feedback we got this week.


First, show how your story connects to YOUR brand.  When we spoke with folks, they felt that the while Verizon ad was nice (who doesn’t want to help girls?) – they responded to the ad much like they did to many of Hillary’s appearances during her book tour—they questioned its authenticity.  They questioned if Verizon had permission to play in this space.  As a result, folks felt like it was too much like PR spin and not enough substance. The connection between Verizon and girls wasn’t clearly drawn.  Hillary has permission to be in this game—she just needs to connect the dots better and more consistently.  She can and should use her stories to effectively illustrate why she is the right person for the job of President (if she really wants it).


Second, use your stories to inspire others.  Cover Girl already has the benefit of having a logical connection to supporting women’s issues.  So the lesson here is that stories aren’t just used for yourself, they are used to inspire others.  When people can see themselves in the stories – that’s when you win.  The Cover Girl ad spoke to people because it showed examples of women who had overcome and succeeded, and it inspired them to believe they too could achieve anything.  And seriously, when you think about it – Hillary should be doing the same thing.  She is THE example of a woman who has overcome and succeeded – and her story could inspire anyone to believe they too can achieve anything.



These learnings apply to all of us who communicate.   There is power in storytelling when it is done the right way.  If you want to learn more about how you can use storytelling effectively at your company or with your brand, we’re always here to help.  E-mail me at lcarter@maslansky.com.     




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