"Storytelling" is a trendy concept in the world of PR and marketing, and it's a helpful model for effective communications. It also implies ascension to a realm of artistry, to a more noble side of one's work, and many who hearken to the call of this buzzword aspire to raise their game by employing the skills of the storyteller.
If you have aspirations like this, Mindy Mizell, founder of Purposeful PR, would caution you not to skip the crucial first steps, but to start at the beginning. Writing in the PR News Book of Visual Storytelling, she lists a number of factors you must consider in order to develop a strategy for using stories to promote your brand:
What do you want audiences to learn? Habit 2 of Stephen Covey’s bestseller Seven Habits of Highly Effective People states “begin with the end in mind.” The same is true in storytelling, as we must be able to clearly articulate what we want people to learn from the story.
- What do you want people to do, and how do you want them to feel? While most us see the value of using stories for content marketing, it’s not always understood that the purpose and very definition of content marketing is “to acquire and retain customers.” Be sure to know how you want audiences to respond and what actions you would like them to take. One of the most powerful motivators for driving action or changing minds is tapping into emotions. Stories can inspire, challenge or even make us fearful. Know how you want audiences to feel after the story ends and ensure that the emotion is appropriate for achieving your objectives.
- Is the story the right fit for your goal? One size does not fit all. Some stories will deliver strategic messages while others will be more compelling to help raise awareness. Other stories will pull at our heartstrings and become powerful motivators, while others will appeal to media outlets as potential content. Get to know your internal stakeholders and understand how each area of your brand’s marketing, communications, fundraising and/or branding uses stories differently and through varied channels.
- Would you like to hear the story? Do a self-test. Would you find the story you’re telling interesting? If so, why? Avoid telling a story if you don’t find it interesting.
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