10 Storytelling Tips for PR Pros

storyOnce upon a time there was a public relations practitioner who needed to improve her engagement with her audience. How did she complete her assignment? She told a story with a few key elements including transparency, human interest, emotion and visuals.

Over the past decade, the field of public relations has evolved into a real-time, fast-paced practice. Yet, even within this evolution, the effectiveness of telling an organization’s story has remained a steadfast rock.

For help telling a compelling story, here are 10 useful tips courtesy of Alisa Agozzino, Ph.D., assistant professor of public relations at Ohio Northern University and contributor to PR News' Writer's Guidebook:

  1. Communication is part of human makeup. Those seeking information are already declaring a need to communicate. Provide them with a story they can communicate with others.
  2. Be clear in your story. Provide details in a way that all readers will understand but that also will invite them to want to know more. This is your opportunity to craft controlled messages that can be passed along to others.
  3. Demonstrate how you are different. Uniqueness differentiates you from the rest.
  4. It is not all about you. Remember most public relations definitions contain some verbiage about mutually beneficial relationships. Make sure you don’t miss the point about connecting the story to your reader.
  5. You don’t have to create every story organically. Readers thrive off of creating stories for you. Listen to your key audiences and let them help provide the content through the stories they tell you.
  6. Don’t tell all in the first few sentences. When reading a story, getting to the end is half the fun. In our bite-sized, real-time world, don’t sacrifice the story to hit all the facts in the sprint to the finish line and miss the essence of storytelling along the way.
  7. Listen and adjust to key constituents. Find the common ground where your story can connect the dots.
  8. Answer the “so what?” question. If a story has no point then why does it matter? Tell the reader why it matters.
  9. Visuals are fun and can help tell your story. Make sure your visuals match your content and that they really add something for the reader’s sake.
  10. Keep it simple. Although you may be attempting to impress, ultimately you are trying to share an experience that resonates. There’s no need to convolute your story with complicated language.

For more writing advice, check out PR News Writer's Guidebook Vol. 1.

Follow Alisa Agozzino on Twitter: @alisaagozzino

Follow Brian Greene on Twitter: @bw_greene