As public relations professionals, we are trained to always seek out and execute the most up to date PR tactics in order to provide our clients with cutting-edge ideas and tools to help them reach their target audience. While it’s important to incorporate the latest and greatest, we need to also remember who we are at our core: storytellers.
PR is executed in many formats such as media relations, social media management, event planning and marketing, to name a few. But essentially the goal of a publicist typically lies with the overarching objective to help their clients define their voice and tell their stories. The platform you tell these stories on might change such as a contributed article verses and an Instagram post, but it all falls under the umbrella of storytelling. Our team recently attended Ragan’s Storyteller’s Writing Workshop in Chicago to brush up on our storytelling skills. We walked away with a few tips any public relations professional should keep in mind when writing content on behalf of their clients.
Should everything be a story?
It’s a little contradictory to start off a post about storytelling and immediately mention that not everything is a story, but here we are. We would rather save you the aggravation of trying to create an interesting story when one might not simply exist, and that’s okay. We like to use the 80%-20% rule when creating content on behalf of a client. 80% of the information coming out of a business should simply be for announcements and other important calls to action.
The other 20% you should look to create more of a story that can be used to improve the understanding of the company or a brand. Here you will want to tap into emotions and help your audience relate to something or someone.
As we are all well aware, with newsrooms shrinking, one of the best ways to get your organization’s story out there is to tell it yourself. Contributed articles and other owned content that can be presented on your website is a great way to share noteworthy stories about personnel and news within the company. Going back to Middle School English class, we learned what the Classic Narrative Arc includes: that every story has an Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action and finally the Resolution. When drafting a story about your organization, you should frame your article or story the exact same way. First, present a human we can care about and root for. Then, show us what that person is trying to accomplish. Reveal what stands in that person’s way, what was the obstacle or challenge and how do they resolve it. It’s more than okay to show drama and the ups and downs. To anyone reading the story, they will want to see authentically what happens. It helps them build a relationship with the subject in the story.
Do your research
It might go without saying but in order to tell a good story, you have to do your research. When interviewing subjects for your story consider speaking to people at all levels of the company. While quotes and insight from the CEO will help build credibility, speaking to junior staff or other positions within the company will help highlight unique perspectives.
There is not a more powerful tool than tapping into someone’s emotion. The more personal you can get, the stronger the connection you make to your audience. When companies and ideas are attached to people as opposed to concepts, the more impressionable you become. This is the definitive goal as marketers. If you can stimulate your audience’s feelings to align with your marketing objectives, you’ve won them over.
Reach the largest possible audience
Going back to our main role as publicists, to help our clients tell their stories and reach their target audience, you will want to make sure your story is as sharable as possible. Creating a visual message such as a video or even an infographic are ways to tell a story using a more visual approach. It’s no secret that the average attention span of today’s audience is on the decline, so capturing your audience’s attention quickly is crucial to the engagement of your story. The sooner you can draw your audience in, the quicker you can make an emotional connection, the more likely they are to share piece with their network, further disseminating the reach of the story.
Storytelling will always be the foundation of public relations. Storytelling is important to public relations because it allows companies to better connect with their audience and ultimately align with their values or marketing goals. Always remember to keep storytelling at the forefront when creating content and news in order to best relate to your audience.
Now, who wants to tell me a good story?