Be a Better PR Storyteller
[By Jason Mollica]
Neil Gaiman once said, “Write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can.” He might as well be talking to today’s public relations pro. Gone are the days of just writing a simple news release or calling a reporter to pitch a story. We are tasked with crafting a message that, in essence, is a story about a client or brand. It may be a new product, or the hiring of a new CEO. Those events are now stories and they need to be compelling. You need to be a better PR storyteller.
Years ago, with the traditional media outlets, you would call a television producer or print reporter. You most likely knew these people for many years and could mention that you had a good story for them to cover. After a few minutes, you probably had a good placement. It’s much different today.
The advent of cable news, social media, blogs and podcasts along with the shrinking of television and newsrooms have made it that much more difficult to get a story covered or a feature written. You not only need to understand the reporter and outlet, but the audiences they reach.
For a traditional writer, telling a story is (relatively) easy. It can be the same for a public relations pro. Understanding your client is a great start. We are tasked with researching everything there is to know about what they do, how long they’ve been around, and what their customers are like. This is also good for developing the story. We need to leverage the art of making a story compelling so it stands out.
Being authentic is another important trait when telling your client’s story. We all know that honesty and transparency are necessary when building trust. The same goes for storytelling. Audiences on social networks will see through embellishment very quickly. Making an emotional connection that is honest and compelling helps to start building the relationships with people. These authentic stories and connections are developed because you are impacting their lives in a positive way.
Most important and obvious, have a story to tell. We’ve all dealt with clients that feel like their story is front-page news or something that should be covered by all the important outlets. However, what if that story isn’t really worthy off all that? It’s up to us as PR pros to tell our clients that there needs to be a compelling, newsworthy angle. You can’t make something up.
The same can be said when being a brand blogger. A truthful story that reflects your core values will give an audience the chance to experience the brand more meaningfully. You want your readers to form their own conclusions. If you’ve told the story the way it should be told, the conclusion will be exactly what you hoped.
Remember, the better you are at telling that story, the easier it will be to gain coverage and, in the future, trust in your brand and/or your client’s brand.