Storytelling is King ... and Other Lessons From the Lane Press Publishers’ Conclave


Last week, Lane Press hosted more than 100 editors, designers and magazine makers at the second Publishers’ Conclave event in Burlington, Vermont.  

The conversation throughout the three-day event was overwhelmingly focused on the importance of storytelling. As Rick Pullen, editor of Leader’s Edge succinctly said during his opening keynote, “The story is your product.”

The attention given to storytelling the way words and images are used to share a meaningful story -- was a refreshing collective pause in an industry and world that is so overloaded with content of all kinds.  

Here are a few key takeaways worth sharing:

  1. Don’t be afraid to tell a story in an unexpected way. Wake Forest Magazine editor Maria Hansen encouraged and inspired editors, designers and communicators to “surprise and delight” readers. Hansen recalled Simon Sinek’s Start With Why model and asked attendees to consider what is at the core of a magazine’s purpose. Keeping that purpose at the heart of all storytelling that is part of your publication. As Hansen said, “tend to your why.”

  2. Print is most certainly not dead. There is no doubt that we’re beginning to see the boomerang effect of a digitally inundated society. The tactile experience of print — the feel of the paper, the heft of the book, the sheer act of holding an object  these are all substantially important parts of our interactions with the world around us that the digital realm just doesn’t provide.

  3. But digital mediums are still very important to good storytelling. It may be time to rethink how content is presented online. Pullen noted, “you can put long form journalism online  if it’s a good story.” The team at University of Rochester uses motion, infographics and other visual communication to tell a deeper story online. And from a practical standpoint, Alissa Levin of Five Point advises that the concept of content “above the fold” doesn’t necessarily have the same level of importance it once did. As device users, we now instinctively scroll for more and more content.


It was a true inspiration to be part of such a passionate, engaged community of creatives working together to further the art of storytelling by sharing ideas and wisdom.


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