Story ideas welcome, everything from the Theory of Relativity to more mundane thoughts. ideas e = mc

Story ideas welcome, everything from the Theory of Relativity to more mundane thoughts.

I will not insult you with that old chestnut, “There are no bad ideas.” All you need to do is watch a presidential campaign to undermine that tall tale.

But as I work on the 2017 Editorial Calendar—our story roadmap—I do want to stress that there are very few truly bad ideas.

Feel better? Did I lawyer that enough for you?

I’d really like to hear from you—readers or not—about what we should cover in this crazy, mixed-up legal profession. Not sure what I mean? How about:

  • New things happening in law practice
  • New niche practices that are growing
  • Crazy-important topics that legal publications have failed to cover in sufficient detail (or at all)

If you need more direction:

Close your eyes. Imagine a box. And picture the oddest, most novel thing, which is so impressive it cannot even fit in that box.

Soothing, right?

So consider this an open invitation for your ideas, of all kinds. They are welcome anytime, but contacting me in the next few weeks would help ensure those ideas get into our formal editorial calendar. (Curious? You can see our current 2016 calendar here.)

Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

the-future 2 road sign editorial calendar story ideas

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Park Howell

Park Howell, always looking up.

I sure love a good story.

That’s why, back in November, I found myself sitting in a Phoenix conference room chatting with a small group of people about how best to interest others in our story and to persuade listeners or readers to act on our story.

The conference room was at the advertising firm Park & Co., and the workshop was nimbly led by the firm’s principal, Park Howell. (He blogs here; more on that in a bit.)

He is an adept storyteller himself, and he walked the group through the steps of crafting a tale that leads readers and viewers to a conclusion. In the workshop, he used a 68-year-old video to demonstrate that “the brain is helpless to the suction of story.”

Confused? Here is how Park Howell describes it:

“In 1944, psychologists Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel created this animated film to test the brain’s compunction to create stories, even out of the most crude stimuli. Of the 114 people that watch this short film, 113 of them knitted together a story of what was happening, and only one said it was just shapes moving around a screen.”

That video and Park’s words struck a chord with me, and I think they would do the same with anyone who has ever argued to a jury. As jury consultant Dru Sherrod told us in a recent Arizona Attorney Magazine, “Jurors bring to the trial this whole lifetime of collected stored scripts. When jurors hear something in the trial that evokes a stored script, they immediately map that life experience onto the trial information.”

So we know on an intellectual level that “story model research” is correct when it instructs about the power of stories to persuade. But practice is what’s needed—and what Howell offered our small group.

park & co logoOn this Change of Venue Friday, I invite you to see more of the stories he spins in his own blog. Whether you are interested in sustainability, marketing or simply in stories well told, take a look. I’m suspecting you may opt to bookmark his insights or opt for the RSS feed.

A recent post of his reminded me that the use of the word “green” may be getting a bit green around the gills. What’s needed, he argues, are not mere catch-phrases, but “genuine stories of sustainability.” True enough, I think, for every industry, including law.

After reading that, head over to his firm’s “Backstories” page, where you can see a selection of the impressive work they have done for clients, many in the most sustainable of industries.

Have a great weekend.

Over at Arizona Attorney Magazine, do you know what our primary job is?

Go ahead; I’ll give you a minute.

Your ideas wanted for Arizona Attorney Magazine

No, it does not involve copyediting People submissions, or reviewing discipline entries for misspelled words (Remember: Commingling has two “m”s.) Those are important parts of the job. But the bulk of our day is focused on … ideas.

I know, that sounds pretty ethereal. But it’s true. There may be a thousand topics we cover on a recurring basis, and we always strive to cover them in new ways. And that search for a new angle—a new way of seeing—is hard work.

Yesterday, I had a terrific lunch with two lawyers. Hmmm, that doesn’t sound like hard work. Let me start again.

Over lunch, two smart lawyers and I spoke at length about law practice and Arizona. And in the midst of it—somewhere between the salad and the coffee—a few intriguing ideas emerged.

light bulb story ideasThey’re not stories—yet. They’ll have to be chewed over, examined and then (gulp) written. But meetings like that are where many of our best stories take root.

I am not going to reveal the ideas; that will be for a future issue of Arizona Attorney. But I would like to encourage some thinking—and communicating—by you.

It’s likely that you have seen something in the magazine that spurs you to think of another article. Or perhaps you’ve spotted a great topic that we’ve missed the boat on, or failed to cover entirely.

When that happens, call me (602-340-7310; cell 602-908-6991). Too personal? Post a comment below. Too public? Email me (arizona.attorney@azbar.org). Too direct? Tweet it my way (@azatty). Too modern-day? Fax me (602-416-7510). (Recently, a colleague joked that within my email signature, there are nine ways to get hold of me; I’m looking to add a 10th.)

You probably get the picture: I just want to hear from you about your idea. And if you want, we could even meet for coffee and a nosh—my treat.