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Welcome to the Era of Surround Storytelling

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Picture this: You wake up. You check your phone. You take it to the bathroom. (Yes, you do.) You see an Instagram of a hat. You like it. Or heart it. (Whatever that little icon means.) You go outside. You see a giant ad on the side of a bus. It's a picture of a hat. It says, "Next Stop, Your Head." You turn the corner and you see a truck. What's it selling? Hats (of course). You follow it on Twitter, where a profile of a hat informs you it's been "throwing shade since 2013." LOL, hat truck, LOL. At work, you click on a list of "100 Bald Guys Who Can Still Look Cool in Hats." You're a bald guy. Should you get a hat? At home, you watch a video about how to measure your head. On TV, Pharrell shows up in a 10-gallon number that looks like he's packing a fruit basket. Let's face it: You're surrounded.

This is a content tornado, where anyone, anywhere, at any time can be hit with branded content. For the consumers, marketers and bald guys alike, it can be a little overwhelming.

How exactly do we show up differently and tell a brand story that still makes sense in this incredibly windy, fragmented environment?

1. Find your code. With so much content flying around, it's easy to lose your hat altogether. When you ground the storyline of your brand in a word, phrase or idea that stems from its DNA, you can ensure your message stays coherent, even when you can't see where, when or how it will land. For a brand like AXE*, the code might be "confidence." Every piece of content produced should then ladder back to the story of finding the essence of confidence from within.

2. Embrace the butterfly. Remember the butterfly effect? The idea that a small action in the right conditions can produce a huge reaction is even more powerful in the content tornado. In our interconnected world, timing is everything. For example, when Pharrell wore a giant hat at the Grammys, Arby's social media team jumped on the moment and tweeted that they wanted their hat back, a move that made Pharrell -- and the media -- tip their hat.

3. Resist perfectionism. You wouldn't want to be in a relationship with someone who doesn't seem human, and the same is true for brands. In social media, authenticity is the name of the game. Little imperfections can make your story more organic, fluid and real. Don't be so perfect, precious and careful about every story you're telling, or your brand could end up on the Condescending Corporate Brand Page.

The always-on content tornado is giving all of us an incredible opportunity to connect and learn from our audiences in completely new ways. An agency that steers the storyline between a brand and its consumers must create programs that remember the code, deploy many different types of content at the correct time and inject humanity and purpose into every story they tell, developing a creative network that's fast, flexible, porous and diverse. If not, you're just creating a Pinterest board full of hats.

*Disclosure: AXE is an Edelman client.

This article was collaboration between Jimmie Stone, executive creative director of Edelman NY and Kendra Eash, senior copywriter at Edelman Digital NY.