Peter Whent

January 14, 2024

Drip, drip, drip

If this was Strictly Come Dancing, this would have been Toby Jones Week.

The man who played the man who took on the Post Office.

Such was his impact, he's now reading through hastily written scripts about all manner of scandals ranging from infected blood to, was the German shot over the line in the 1966 World Cup Final?

But let’s not rush ahead. Let’s stay with the story of the moment.

It’s a story we all knew…sort of.

It’s a story we’d been drip fed over about 20 years.

For me it started about 15 years ago when our local sub-postmaster was nicked. It was pub gossip, no-one quite knew the story. But, scandal.

Then a few more came to light. Shit happens.

Then a fight back. “We didn’t do it”. Isn’t that what everyone says?

A judge finds in someone’s favour. Hooray.

A settlement. Seems fair.

An inquiry, and politicians dragging their feet. Tell me something I don’t know.

But it didn’t grab our attention.

No-one was looking at it as the most widespread miscarriage of justice in British legal history. It was just a low-level news story which gently dripped away like a leaky tap for over 20 years.

Then someone did something radical.

They swept up all the snippets of the drip feed and replayed it to us as one monstrously powerful story.

It changed everything.

What's the story?

If you haven’t seen Mr Bates versus The Post Office, here’s my solid advice.

Clear your diary, switch your phone off, and binge it.

It’s an extraordinary piece of drama. And you will never see a better example of the power of storytelling.

It‘s text-book.

It's good against evil.

It has a Hero.

It has a villain.

The Hero must go on a journey and fight lots of dragons, but he prevails.

But its superpower is that it's relatable.

Every sub-postmaster is us.

The little guy trying to earn a crust and provide for his family.

Every fight with the Post Office is us, raging against the machine.

It's so relatable it touches us emotionally.

We can see ourselves in the plot. We relate to the misery, and we seethe at the wilful injustice. It doesn’t get more powerful than that.

How powerful?

1.2 million people signing a petition powerful.

Handing back a CBE powerful.

A government scrambling to fast track a change of the law powerful.

Things which 20 years of news and campaigning couldn’t achieve, all because someone told a great story.

I only tell you this because you’re making the same mistake.

Those blog posts?

That product led website.

The snoozefest of a podcast.

Those are your leaky tap.

You’re drip-feeding stuff to your audience, and they aren’t noticing.

You need to tell a story.

One which touches them emotionally because it's so relatable.

Try telling your audience a story about their pain.

I can’t promise 1.2 million signatures on a petition, but we’ve been telling that story for the last five years, and it’s how we’ve built our business.

90% of our enquiries come after people have read that story.

You may call that fanciful.

We call it the power of storytelling.

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