My first impression of Natasha Deganello Giraudie, the CEO of San Francisco-based Micro Documentaries, is that she’s wonderfully paradoxical. She seems a little self-conscious, yet exudes total confidence. She’s soft-spoken, but hammers a powerful message. It took but a nanosecond for every member of the StoryU Live audience to lean forward and hang on every soft-spoken, nervous, confident, and powerful word that she delivered through an intoxicating Venezuelan lilt.

Three-quarters of the way through her talk, “8 Lessons in Documentary Storytelling,” I found myself resonating with Lesson #6: Guard the Narrative

Anyone who’s ever worked at an agency understands the power behind the lesson. You’re hired to write a story or communicate something clearly. At the beginning of a project, things move swiftly and effortlessly. Over time, though, the project begins to bog down, burdened by the opinions of peripheral participants. Some want to sanitize the message. Others want to run it through the company’s brand guidelines. And with each new adjustment, the purpose gets fuzzier, the message gets homogenized, and the meaning gets lost.

Sound familiar?

Natasha’s Lesson # 6 is a brilliant way of asking, “Who’s representing the customer/audience in this project?”

Customers are the most important group of any marketing project, yet they’re woefully underrepresented in the process. Therefore, it’s easy to ignore their needs and start focussing on the needs of an easier–albeit wrong–audience: senior management.

So, who’s the guardian of the narrative at your company? Who’s the human that weighs brand, message, purpose, and ultimately the needs of the most important person in your messaging activities–the customer?

Perhaps it’s you?

Photo Credit: Anna Sutton