Everything's a story: How a pair of pants connects to the biggest business skill of the next 5 years

Jon Stephenson shows off his "closing pants."

Jon Stephenson shows off his "closing pants."

Someone asked me last week why I bill myself on LinkedIn and on my business cards as a storyteller.

When it boils down to it, everything's a story. During my 27-year professional newspaper career, I wrote, designed and edited countless stories. One New Year's Eve, I did them all with one story. I covered a holiday basketball tournament at Keswick Christian School in St. Petersburg, went to the office, wrote the story, edited it, designed the page and wrote the headline. 

But while stories are the obvious foundation of newspapers, stories and storytelling form the basis of so much else. I recently read a blog post about why storytelling will be the biggest business skill of the next five years.

Visit Tampa Bay's Santiago Corrada spoke Tuesday at an American Marketing Association of Tampa Bay luncheon about how his organization tells the story of Tampa and Hillsborough County to attract tourists and is boasting record numbers with campaigns such as "Bay Crafted" and "Florida's Most." 

Of late, I've been learning about content marketing, which really is about building a story to connect with people, making them more likely to do business with your company. 

My brother Jon uses a story in an interesting way as a real estate agent in Tennessee. Jon promotes when he makes a sale by wearing his "closing pants," a pair of pants he inherited when our 93-year-old great uncle, Paul Walsh, died in 2007. The closing pants are well known in Jon's suburban Nashville community and often get reaction when he posts on Facebook that he's breaking them out.

Wednesday, I attended the Public Relations Society of America Tampa Bay chapter's Professional Development Day. The first session focused on writing tips from my friends Kyle Parks and Missy MacFarlane at B2 Communications because any PR practitioner who wants to get a story out needs to build it on a foundation of good writing.

Whether you have a newspaper to read, a business to promote or memories to preserve, everyone has a story.