Guest Speaker: Miri Rodriguez
Miri Rodriguez is a Storyteller for IT Showcase. She is a creative journalist and content advocate developing stories across key technology trends, evangelizing brand narrative and showcasing how Microsoft is digitally transforming. Prior to this, Miri led three social care teams in CSS responding to thousands of customer inquiries via social channels in Global English, Spanish and Portuguese. Her work was recognized as Best Practice at the annual Microsoft Think Tank Summit and won her a marketing award for effectively engaging partnerships with internal teams to drive a unified social voice and customer experience. She was selected twice to participate in Microsoft’s prestigious program #MySkills4Africa where she volunteered her social expertise to train and coach Social Enterprise leaders in Swaziland and Morocco to effectively launch their social programs. Her award-winning career includes 15+ years in Marketing, Operations and Customer Experience. She is the mother of 2 boys and an American Bulldog. Her philanthropic work includes volunteering as business consultant and student coach at Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, board of directors membership at Trade+Impact social enterprise organization and personal brand coaching for professionals of all ages and backgrounds.
Maria: Ladies and gentlemen, I am Maria Dismondy and I am passionate about creative marketing, I run a children’s publishing company and I also do a lot of education to authors. So, we have Miri Rodriguez here, and she has over fifteen (15) years in experience in marketing. She has a list of awards that she has won…
I’m just thrilled to be here with you… Your work’s been recognized across many different social media channels and I’d love to have you tell us a little bit more about what you do on a day-to-day basis as a creative journalist and a storyteller for IT Showcase.
Miri: I sit on the technical side of Microsoft which we have many storytellers. It’s very niche type of storytelling which is really cool because you can take those techniques and apply them everywhere in the space. So, like as you said, you’re an author but if you’re also just a digital marketer, in every sector on industry you’ll find yourself, these techniques really help because they’re taking the very content that… it could be, heavy or they could be super technical or it could be boring… whatever you want them to be, we transform in to these techniques to tell the story better, to connect with the customer, with the audiences, or whoever you’re trying to reach, whoever they are, whatever age in whatever sector. So, storytelling, it’s really a craft. It’s more than a craft for us at Microsoft today. It’s a business strategy on how we’re connecting with our customers in this digital age because we’re seeing our machines are taking over, AI is taking over, we’re having automation, and that’s all great things but what does that mean to the business, well we can hone into the one thing that AI can’t do. Robots and machines can’t tell a story from the heart, and we can. So, that’s what we’re here to talk about.
Maria: Now Miri, have you noticed, are there analytics that have shown that… let’s say, an advertising piece without the storytelling, an advertising piece with it, that the one that tells a story is performing better? Is there any research or analytics to back this up?
Miri: My role as a storyteller, and that goes to the analytics part as well… my role is to not only conceptualize content and idealize what it is, and creatively have conversations and, you talk about creative journalism, take a story from an engineer and really dig deeper into who he is, to match his person and his personal story to the technology that’s behind you. He’s behind that technology, so that’s really creatively working a storyline that is compelling to people, that will not just present our features and what we do at Microsoft but also who’s doing that at Microsoft. So, we’re doing a lot of ghostwriting, a lot of personal stories attached to the digital transformation stories, so a lot of that, and then at the end of it we do look at analytics. So, our main analytics is consumption, right? That’s the main one, that’s our goal. We want people to consume our content whatever it is, and so, yes, we have seen absolutely the way we’ve changed our storytelling.
It’s insane to look at it that way from a technical standpoint, and again you have all kinds of stories that you tell as a brand.
Maria: We’ve seen in our company alone, that once we put a face with the books… we’re not just highlighting book after book, but who is the author and what was the inspiration that the author had to write that book. We see better sales when someone can connect a person to a book versus just a book to brand. So putting that human being into it, we’ve definitely seen some helpful and some greater analytics for that.
Miri: Huge, huge… and when you think about just again… reading, you’re just talking about putting face, putting the story behind it. When people learn that, and people don’t like products. They buy the people behind that, right? People don’t want to know Microsoft. They want to know Miri from Microsoft. Why does she look like? What are they about? So it really sparks the curiosity and we played the creativity of that and give them little nuggets and people love that.
Maria: Absolutely! So, Miri, can you give us an example and maybe it’s a made up example because I don’t know what, you know, as far as you can actually share a client’s work with us.
Miri: It’s actually part of our shifting our strategy, how we are actually telling the story organically and authentically and we don’t have to make things up. So, achievement for a story is subjective, right? You can say your achievement is, I’ve ran a 5K for the first time, my achievement is that I saved a puppy from drowning… it could be anything. We just let people tell us about what their achievement is, and then what we do is we ask them and we attach how our services have helped them, how have they achieved this through our services or product or whatever it is. We essentially become the sidekick in our story, not the hero. The customer is the hero of our story, and so, when you look at that or any client, the client becomes immediately emotionally driven by the fact that they have now… they are now the main character in the story. We are the Robin to the Batman, right? Think about that in every aspect, a lot of people ask, well how do I do that Miri, how do I get my brand or my book or my business to do that? It can, first it starts with customer listening. Find out what they need instead of telling them what you can do .
It’s really asking them what their story is. Hey what’s your story? And then you connect your story to theirs by saying… Oh you know what? This book really might help. You’re embedding your story into theirs and then they all of a sudden see how your book or your product or your services have helped them in their story and they talk about it freely. We talk about brand all the time, right? We tell about what we don’t like, what we like, we get it on Facebook, we get it on Twitter, on Instagram and we type what we like and don’t. So, it’s just an innate thing of humanity that we will talk about the things that we know are working for us if it’s our win. So, make your customer the winner, the main character. We’ve done that time and time again and I can tell you, it’s the best thing that we’ve done at Microsoft, is to really shift and come customer centric.
Maria: So when you have the story, I’m sure you’re sharing it in different social media platforms according to that brand, is that correct? So you might share the story in a video, on Instagram, you might share it on Facebook or on Twitter, so it just depends on where that brand is visible?
Miri: Absolutely. So, we do focus on… we have so many brands, right?… and we have so many audiences, and then there’s so many types of technologies, there’s so many channels as well that we’re playing around, we don’t necessarily go to everything. It really is a strategic move of where we’re going to place that story that we know, number one, where the audience is and who we’re targeting. So if your audience is millennial, if your audience is Gen Z vs. Gen X, and we have engineering… only engineering audiences that we know live on LinkedIn for example, the story goes on LinkedIn, it probably won’t get picked up on Instagram for them, so we know and we have… part of knowing where the place the story is also a huge technique. Understand your audience, understand where they live, and how you’re going to bring that story.
Maria: Fantastic! I love that. What a cool job. So, when you’re doing this, and you said you do a lot of ghostwriting, correct? So, brands will come to you and say, hey, this is my idea but I want your company to write it, and then you’re creating the marketing campaign and you’re helping them to figure out where to place it from A to Z basically, right?
Miri: So, we’re doing that for… I do it internally not for brands, I do it internally for our Engineers. So, the ghostwriting really is… the pitch is, we think you have a story, right?
Maria: You know, it reminds me of something because as you’re talking about different personalities, I have a client that I’m working with and she’s not super comfortable about putting her face out there and she’s totally uncomfortable with video but I’m really trying to show her that we can work around that and you could just have a head shot on Instagram and tell a story. It’s important for people… that’s the piece that I feel is missing with her. People haven’t connected with who she is. They connected with work but I want her to show herself as a person.
Miri: That’s right. So, creative journalism and story telling, they’re much different than your regular digital marketing or regular journalism because you are getting creative about how to tell the story where the character or the brand, it feels comfortable enough and you’re telling it the way they wanted to but you’re adding in your own spark of what you think should be there for the customer. You know your customers, you know what they want and they may not, so you ask the question pushing it for the brand, it’s the same thing, it’s the same work. If you come in and you pitch the story, say, hey I think the story is this, you come in this way, we will be living in on what you say but we want to get from you what it is, we get the heart of the story and we’ll write it for you, we’ll get it for you, we’ll get it on video, we’ll put a picture, we’ll put whatever, but they come in and they really understand the power of storytelling, and that’s the biggest thing and I promise you, once something that one story is done, oh my gosh, it’s like, open the floodgates because they’ll show up.
Maria: You see, that’s what I feel and I love that you are working in such a digital company but you guys are not letting go of the human element.
Miri: Being in the technical space, I have to tell you one of my biggest pitches when I speak and I will be talking in different places and very soon in a real life, and we’re talking exactly about this. The pitch is, I’m actually saving the human race from extinction in the digital age. What that means is, once the machines come, and I talk about this all the time, I’m seeing it. I’m looking at robots being part of our everyday life. We’ll you’re going to be telling stories, that’s what you’re going to be doing because that’s what they can’t do. So how you craft that today and how you pitch that to your customers, to your own brand, how are you going to really touch the heart of a customer, human to human. We see technology taking over everything else, this one thing they can’t. They can’t be creative, robots can’t be creative and they can’t tell those stories. That’s where we’re going to hone in as marketers. It’s the way to go basically.
@MiriRod is my handle and please do connect. I’d love to really organically connect with everyone and really share, again share those tips and tricks and really… a lot of people don’t know where to start. So, if you don’t know where to start, if you don’t know where you are in this process, let me know and I can absolutely help you out on how to get started with storytelling and why it’s important.
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My name is Maria Dismondy. I am a children’s book author who also founded the publishing company, Cardinal Rule Press.
Finding ways to market my messages is a passion of mine. I want to help you gain greater recognition of your brand, to generate new readers and improve your sales. Why? Because I love to GIVE and CONNECT and I truly believe we are all in this together!
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