There's been a lot of speculation of late about whether NPR will save the news and become the future of mainstream media.
Since NPR's listener numbers are climbing, they are obviously doing something right. One example is their mastery in telling stories. And it's all the more fascinating because NPR is radio, the medium without video, that offers such rich lessons in how to package and tell stories with personality and style.
Their Planet Money series is an excellent example in how to take a complex wonky topic like collateralized debt obligations and make it not only understandable but enjoyable to listen to and want to learn more. That's tough to do without pictures to simplify the topic.
NPR also excels in letting people tell their own stories. Listeners tune in because people bond over stories, sharing life's challenges, obstacles overcome and the joys of success in business and in their lives. Whether it's an interview with a newsmaker or a farmer who bet his 401K on the farm, people talking to other people drives much of how they tell their stories.
Final point worth mentioning: NPR is also creating a community by letting listeners mix up their own podcasts as a further means of extending their reach and keeping them involved.
Here's how what NPR is doing can help you. Do you have someone on your team who can take a complex business topic and make it interesting? Can you do it as a podcast or a video on your website? Can you get a few customers together to talk about a common business challenge and videotape it for your website? Can you edit their conversations into 2-minute audio or video clips? Could you ask some of your customers to submit their own stories to share on your website?
NPR's formula proves that if you tell good stories people will come and hopefully stick around.