Profile: Story Inc
Could you describe your company and its business profile?
Story Inc is a Wellington-based company that creates visitor experiences of all kinds. Most of our work involves installations, exhibitions or events in physical spaces. We have been in business for nearly 20 years and in that time have worked on many projects large and small in New Zealand, Asia and Australia.
We are not technical specialists but storytellers, always looking for the best medium to engage and entertain our visitors, and help find the best way to communicate the compelling stories our clients have to tell.
What are the core values of your company?
As visual storytellers we value narrative, literature, language, creativity, imagination and design, underpinned by our cultural values of community, diversity and inclusion.
Our projects take us in many unexpected directions, but we particularly love learning more about our own islands, their history, natural history, and cultures.
We want to share the wonder that we feel when we hear stories from those involved, or with a deep knowledge or passion for New Zealand’s unique history. Authenticity plays a key role in our work.
How would you describe the profile(s) of your (prospective) customers?
Our customers are very diverse: museums, galleries, visitor centres, tourism sites, but also local and central government, community organisations, and commercial companies.
The thing they all have in common is that they have stories to tell that are interesting enough to engage visitors.
How do you engage your (prospective) customers?
We actively keep an ear out for visitor experience projects and possibilities. When we hear of opportunities we try to offer prospective customers as much early-stage advice and thinking as we can, to help get these fledgling projects off the ground.
We’re experienced at working with our clients at every stage of the project: from early consultations – strategising, stakeholder engagement and initial concept – through design and content development, to project management and creative supervision of implementation.
Because we tend to get involved in larger scale projects, there is often a competitive process around the appointment. So we remain on the ‘pitching treadmill’ and sometimes have to take the long view around building relationships and winning work.
People seeing our latest work, and word-of-mouth recommendations play a big role for us. We only advertise very selectively in museum-type publications and have in the past been a conference sponsor. We put out a very occasional enewsletter and are just dipping our toes into social media in the form of Instagram.
What were your challenges in finding sponsorship partners and how did you select them?We founded and continue to sponsor a poetry prize at the Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University. Our sponsorship of this award was the result of a project we were working on in the early 2000s called the ‘Wall of Words’. It is a 9m x 15m Juma limestone wall in the foyer of an Auckland skyscraper. The wall is decorated with a collection of quotations by New Zealanders, or about New Zealand.
Most of the living ‘quotees’ were happy for us to use their words, but the estate representing one deceased writer insisted on us giving them a donation.
We felt it was unfair to pay to use one quote but not the others, so we suggested to the other participants that we would donate the equivalent sum each to help found the poetry prize. They agreed, so we did so with the help of poet Bill Manhire who was also involved in the project.
Could you describe the value shared and received beyond the dollars?
Our small but long-term sponsorship of a poetry prize does offer an intriguing little ‘point of difference’ for some customers. We are a commercial company, but it is not all about commerce.
Steve and I are both English literature graduates of VUW, so there is an element of giving a little back.
But there is also a link to our core business and values: making use of many different techniques to explore the world and tell its stories. That is what poetry does − and what we, in a different media, also try to do.
Disclosure: Story Inc is a collaboration partner of Shoreline Partners. We love the combination of creative thinking and production qualities they adopt to engage us with our taonga.