How to Avoid the Stink in Your Storytelling

Posted on June 20, 2013 
Filed Under Digital PR, General, Internal Communication, Media Relations, Media Training, Social Media

My son Max tells very long stories that veer in curious directions. By the time he’s nearing the point, he forgets the ending. It’s rather cute and endearing – he is, after all, only 12 years old. He will sometimes exclaim frustratingly: “I forgot what I was going to say!” Can we admit that often it’s as if a 12-year-old is telling a story about his brand? And we aren’t as forgiving, are we?

Storytelling in PR comes in many forms: press releases, emails, memos, phone calls, meetings, press conferences, interviews. Our stakeholders have short attention spans and are less charitable about seeing through the foggy messages. They are not our parents, who will listen to our stories and love us even more for the muddled storytelling. No, stakeholders will send you on your merry way, and latch on to a better story.

Like you and me, our audiences like a story that has heart, that makes us think and moves us in some way. A few days ago, I heard about Pedigree’s partnership with “Annie” on Broadway and the search for a shelter dog to play Sandy. The story is heart-warming and memorable, and makes me want to buy Pedigree dog food and see Annie for the umpteenth time. The story had emotion.

It’s the communicator’s role to find the compelling story in the message and then make it stick. At PR News’ Content Marketing Boot Camp on Tuesday, one speaker noted that “if it doesn’t spread, it’s dead.” That’s a catchy reminder, but even in the age of social media and attention deficits, your story must be authentic, true to your brand’s story line and characters.

The best stories spread, then stick and, most importantly, result in a positive action or reaction. In other words, sticky can sometimes be stinky. Which leads me to my last point: know what to leave out of a story. Every brand and company is filled with stories. Not all of those stories should be told. Curate your stories, identify the narrative and figure out what’s better left unsaid. Not every story is worth repeating. Unless it’s about your kids.

- Diane Schwartz

@dianeschwartz


Comments

  • http://professionallyspeaking.net Stephanie M. Scotti

    Excellent points. . . love the pedigree example and your positioning of the statement “if it doesn’t spread it is dead.” Thank you for the thought provoking posting.

  • http://www.brandrecruitment.co.uk/pr-and-marketing-jobs/jobs/communications-pr-jobs/ Victoria

    Couldn’t agree more that stories with emotion are more memorable and like you I would buy Pedigree dog food on the back of the Annie story.

    Clients recruiting for PR jobs are always on the look out for PR candidates who can write compelling press releases and articles.

    Are there any notes on the Content Marketing Boot Camp that was held?

  • http://www.bistromd.com Katie

    I agree with Victoria– great, helpful article.

    And that is a good question– If there are notes from the Content Marketing Boot Camp, I’d love to see them and learn a few things!

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