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Tell Better Stories As A Marketer, Be Like Vin Scully

You know Vin Scully (right) is a big deal when Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is excited to meet him.  Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo, LA Dodgers.
You know Vin Scully (right) is a big deal when Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is excited to meet him.
Photo Credit: Jon SooHoo, LA Dodgers.

— While St. Louis Cardinals fans surely aren’t upset about it, their team ended the the best part of baseball season for many people — listening to Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully. Here are a few lessons any marketer, author or journalist can take away from perhaps the greatest storyteller in sports.

It’s pretty much a consensus amongst communications professionals that good writers read fairly often.

This is important for marketers and public relations pros to remember, as the ability to communicate clearly is paramount to their success.

Whether it’s work for clients, for your agency or during client relations, getting your point across clearly and holding people’s attention is the driving force of your success.

For all of those tasks, storytelling is an extremely useful tool.

Sure, you can just tell someone how great a product is, but demonstrating its usefulness through a real example or funny anecdote can help them remember, and it might even help them share the story with a friend.

Just like reading will likely improve your writing, listening to great communicators can help you understand what makes a compelling story.

If you’re looking for some examples of brilliant storytelling, look no further than long-time Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully.

The palpable love for Scully isn’t just because he’s been around for a 65 years — it’s because he’s the very best at what he does — and that’s telling a great story.

What does Scully do that marketers and PR pros can replicate? It’s not the sound of his great voice, but here are a few things you can actually learn to do.

Put in the time to be an expert

The amount of research Scully puts into his craft is pretty obvious. As Sports on Earth wrote in 2013, he’s definitely the “hardest working legend around.”

Where Scully excels is his understanding of every situation in the game — and there are hundreds, if not thousands of them.

That comes from preparation, of course, but Scully has been passionate about his work his entire career, even when he has publicly said the hectic travel schedule can grow tiresome.

If a marketer isn’t passionate about their project, it’ll show. Even if you’re not feeling up to it that day, take a page out of Scully’s book and remember you’re applying your unique set of skills to the job you chose, and there are people depending on you to succeed.

Change with the times

This is the era of sabermetrics (advanced statistics) in sports, and while Scully isn’t bombarding listeners with players’ xFIP, SIERA or UBR, he’s noticeably increased his references to stats over the years.

Scully says sabermetrics are “beyond him,” but he doesn’t dismiss them like many other long-time baseball announcers, managers and players. Instead, he sticks to the traditional stats, and expertly sprinkles them into key areas.

Scully will tell you a pitcher’s ERA through the first three innings of all his starts that season, or he’ll tell you how many runs a team has scored in seventh innings in the month of August.

So, he might not be illustrating advanced infographics over the radio, but he’s still appealing to new wave of fans who want a deeper look at the numbers associated with baseball.

While there’s still the old guard of marketers who love billboards and magazine ads, the most successful marketers today embrace growth hacking and new ways of connecting with their audience.

If 86-year-old Scully can adjust his style, so should marketers.

Tell the story behind the story

Scully does a masterful job of including anecdotes about players throughout his broadcasts.

Did you know John Lackey of the St. Louis Cardinals traded a signed Babe Ruth baseball to fellow pitcher Pat Neshak for the No. 41 jersey? Scully did, and he seamlessly dropped the story into the middle of an important playoff game

While Scully is a master at calling the action on the field, he understands listeners appreciate some backstory and context, too. His stories about players and managers make them more relatable to the audience, and that absolutely affects the way fans think about them.

Scully knows a story isn’t any good unless the reader or listener doesn’t care about the characters, and he makes sure the amazing athletes on the field are humanized as much as possible.

Marketers can do the same by positioning their clients and company as groups of regular people with big goals and a drive to succeed.

People like to read about the company that raised a $5 million seed round, but they will almost certainly enjoy the fly-on-the-wall anecdote about the relentless CEO much more.

Scully’s expertise, adaptability and great storytelling made him an industry giant who actually transcends the game that’s made him famous.

While marketers don’t often get the public respect and admiration that Scully has achieved, telling stories like the best announcer in baseball will help marketers connect their clients to the audience in a meaningful way, and that should always be one the priorities in a marketing campaign.