Three Reasons Why Narrative Transportation is Important to Storytelling

Great storytelling is a science made up of several different components. Each of these components is important in its own right- production value, emotional connections, character development- the list goes on. All of these parts of a great story should work together to do one thing in particular: cause the person who is receiving the story to lose himself in it. Or, in other words, to be transported into the story. You may have heard us mention this before (winky face), but this concept is called narrative transportation. And there’s a whole bunch of theory behind it.

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In the most technical terms, a writer and philosopher named R.J. Gerrig in 1993 was the first person to talk about narrative transportation within the context of novels. He proposed that when people lose themselves in a story, their attitudes and opinions are based on what they have read. Meaning: if you are reading about an orphan child’s story and you are deeply moved by it, you may be more likely to finish reading and want to volunteer at an orphanage. Over the thirty-plus years since Gerrig’s initial theory, the idea and use of narrative transportation has been expanded to encompass not just story-telling in novels, but across all media, including advertising. This is one of the largest reasons why we focus on storytelling so much as a company. Because telling a good story changes people’s minds. Here’s how:

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  1. You can change people’s minds. In today’s culture where has opinions on Facebook and Twitter, it almost seems impossible that anyone is able to change anyone’s mind. According to narrative transportation theory, a good story can do just that. Or as Melanie Green states in her book, “when consumers lose themselves in a story, their attitudes and intentions change to reflect that story.” The caveat here is that (in our case) your viewer has to truly lose themselves in your story. Which means that you have to employ all of the different aspects of storytelling in order to give your viewer places to access your story. This means that emotion, character, location, and purpose are all tantamount to giving your viewer a reason to care. And care inspires action, according to narrative transportation theory.
  2. You aren’t advertising to anyone. In fact, research shows that the daunting Millennial generation hates advertisements all together. This is one reason why we are a content production firm and not a marketing firm. We don’t advertise- we tell stories. Your brand, whatever it is, matters to us. We want to help you tell your company’s story and tell it well. One way of doing this is by building a brand story so powerful that your viewer can literally put his or herself directly inside it and see how it affects them on a personal level. By employing the theory of narrative transportation, you create connections with your viewer. Connections are much more powerful than flashing something colorful and saying, “Now buy this!”
  3. You can bring people into your world. If you are a small business owner, chances are your company is your livelihood, which means it really matters to you. If you are in charge of a large company, you are probably responsible for many people’s livelihoods, which means your company really matters to you. By employing narrative transportation theory, you are allowing outside customers and consumers a window into something that matters to you and your employees deeply: their occupation. By telling a good story, you can allow your intended audience into your business in a way that they would not be able to otherwise. This can achieve repeat business, longstanding relationships, and a sense of ownership by your customer base. And all of these things are accomplished by telling a good story.
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In all of our projects, we strive to tell stories that transport their viewership into them on a deep and meaningful level. We want to engage people in such a way that they want to learn more about a brand because they care about it and identify with it. Let us work with you today to start telling a better story for your company.