10 Tips for Telling a Story That Engages Audiences

coolerGood PR isn’t just about sending a message, it’s about telling a story. Think about the last good book that you read. Did it stir your emotions in some way? Did it stick in your head? Did you share it with others or discuss it with friends or colleagues? There is no reason that a good PR message or campaign can’t do the same thing. In fact, the ones that do are generally the most successful.

In order to generate stories that make an impact with your audience, you have to understand the basics of storytelling. Alisa Agozzino, Ph.D., assistant professor of public relations at Ohio Northern University, shares some tips that communicators can use to tell a compelling story.

  • Communication is part of human makeup. Those seeking information are already declaring a need to communicate. Provide them with a story that they can communicate with others.
  • Be clear in your story. Provide details in a way that all readers will understand but that also will invite them to learn more about the  content. This is your opportunity to craft controlled messages that can be passed along to others.
  • Demonstrate how you are different. Uniqueness differentiates you from the rest.
  • It is not 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.
  • 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.
  • Don’t tell all in the first few sentences. Unlike a press release, getting to the end of a story 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.
  • Listen and adjust to key constituents. Find the common ground where your story can con­nect the dots.
  • Answer the “so what?” question. If a story has no point, then why does it matter? Tell the reader why it matters.
  • 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.
  • Keep it simple. Although you may want to impress, ultimately you are trying to share an experience that resonates. There’s no need to bog down your story with complicated lan­guage.

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