The Corporate Storyteller

The Corporate Storyteller

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a series of articles detailing a number of trends in corporate communications.

One trend they sighted was the increased reliance on something called “Corporate Storytellers”. These are folks who work with companies to unearth their past, often after years of conglomeration, buyouts, downsizing, and more. The story emphasizes the use of live narratives, even original songs, to help reinstate a sense of heritage, purpose and belonging.


Another trend they focused on some time back was the “Tribute” video—a life story on video or slides of an accomplished person, living or deceased, who has impacted a company, a group, or even a family.

Well, we all know trends come and go, and we also know (those of us that have been around a bit) that trends are cyclical. One thing that seems to be a steady interest?  People to want to rediscover their roots.

That’s a healthy thing—at home, and especially in business. And telling the true stories of companies and their people is a great way to rekindle a company’s purpose and passion.

People Want to Belong

People want to belong. People want to believe. People want to work for the common good. Ignore these needs, and you have people that will substitute these needs with personal agendas, or even worse, counter-corporate agendas. They have to fill the vacuum!

We believe there is no more powerful tool than the well crafted, well documented, well produced, honest and entertaining…. VideoStory.

That’s the name of my production company. Why? We succeed most when we tell the stories of our clients in ways that make that material motivating, accessible, believable, and purposeful. People want to believe in people. They need heroes, role models and road signs. You can provide them that with the right kinds of stories.

Case Histories

We helped a mushrooming corporation bring its various acquisitions worldwide together in a common belief system, when we pointed out that the company’s growth could be liked to the growth of a tree. Why a tree? The company started in wooden products, developed forests, moved into paper, and moved beyond paper into products that provided many of the same functions. The company still owned and nurtured forests. A foreman in a Washington State location took us (and our cameras) on a tour, and we were able to build in logical departures that helped bring together the diverse divisions, their people, and even their local communities into an understanding of the company’s heritage and values, and the part they could play in its future.

One of the Country’s leading Marine engine manufacturers celebrated a major anniversary. Having gone from being owned and operated by the engineer that developed the company’s engines, to a division of a major international corporation, there was a disconnect between the company’s family heritage and perceived issues about the nature of corporate owners. The story of the founder, his genius, his quirks, his marketing techniques, the struggles to grow, the need for funding and the acquisition, and the public’s ongoing devotion to the product and company helped that anniversary become a true celebration—of the company’s past, it’s future, and the dedication of the current owners.

And many times, we’ve had the opportunity to show that the philosophies of the founder of a large drug store chain have been the framework for the company’s ongoing success over the course of 100 years, through new merchandising trends, health care changes, and even in the wake of amazing growth. We’ve produced documentaries, original songs, and video communications both silly and sublime to help keep the ship on course.

Learning From The Past

We learn from the lessons of the past. But those lessons must be recorded, codified, visualized, and made entertaining AND meaningful. And they must be told with consistency.

That’s why we produce VideoStories. We know of no better way to convey the essence of a company, its foundations, its new directions, and the role its people play than through VideoStories distributed on DVD, CD-ROM, tape, TV, the Web, or within PowerPoint presentations. Send them in an email. Send them a DVD. Tell your dealers or your employees the story, so they get onboard and sale with their captain.

As you consider your future in video storytelling, and as you read our book, remember that it’s the people that count the most. It’s attitude, dedication, teamwork and just rewards. If a company can tell this story, I hope you get to tell it.

Public Domain Video for Your Project

Public Domain Video for Your Project

Let’s say you are doing a tribute video to celebrate your parent’s anniversary. 

You’ve got pictures, a bit of home video or film and some appropriate music. But you’d like to add some production elements that enhance the story. 

That’s where public domain footage comes in. You could add news footage, scenes from old tv shows, even musical performances. It’s all in a place called The Internet Archive.

For a family history we did for a client, we interviewed the parents and learned their backgrounds– he had been in the the second world war; she was an accomplished office manager. Searching the Internet Archive, we found appropriate footage– newsreel footage of the second world war with narration, and generic 1940’s office scenes that we mixed with pictures of Mom at work. Not only does public domain footage help flesh out your video, it makes it more interesting to less involved (non-relatives) viewers. 

The footage can be downloaded in several formats that should work with your editing system… make sure your downloading the highest resolution for the biggest impact.

Give it a try!

Why The VideoBiz Book?

Why The VideoBiz Book?

I like to look at the big picture. The big picture will constantly keep you focused on your goals. The big picture also shows you how all the pieces fit together.

During my production career, I faced many challenges– changing production formats, new technological advances, and the changing temperment of suppliers and even employees.

As I solved each problem– creative, technical, financial, I made a mental note to not do the next time what we had done to create the problem I built a set of rules that helped me help my clients, deliver great creative, and stay competitive in the marketplace.


I like teachers. I remember clearly the ones that encouraged me toward my goal of something audio-visual.

I was lucky enough to teach of semester on visual communications at Marquette University, where my business was located. That was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I even hired one of my students!

“Someday, I will do this again,” I said to myself.

TVL Seminar at Brien Lee Creative Solutions office, 1995

Alas, that never happened.

But I did teach my staffs over the years, and did offer some group training seminars for new editing equipment that had emerged in the marketplace. Once again, this was very rewarding… even clients and competitors attended!

Real Life Experience

Brien Lee at TVL Seminar, Phoenix, Arizona 1997

Through the years I wished there had been a book that offered real world knowledge about the ups and downs of making a career or starting a business in video production… something beyond the “winging it” method my partner and I were up against at the dawn of video communications!

The Video Biz Book

As I approached retirement age (although I’m not exactly retired) I realized I had to write that book. I would describe the book as non-clinical, confessional, anecdotal, and real-life. It is all based on real experiences in the production biz, from starting up, to being creative to methods of organization, to work flow, to client handling and to popping the cork of success.

Do you have a story you want to share? Chime in below, and thanks for being here.