Whether obvious or not, PR Professionals should be keen storytellers. You look for stories, track stories and pitch stories. Storytelling is a highly effective way of communication. It evokes emotion and allows your content to connect with an audience. No one wants to listen to a clinical sales pitch. They’re boring and impersonal. A good PR pro understands the importance of using language that connects with and appeals to an audience. This makes the brand memorable and stands out from the bombardment of advertisements and press releases that are viewed daily.
How do I become a storyteller?
Press releases and PR campaigns should always contain key storytelling characteristics. Like any well-written narrative, your story needs to have a plot – a beginning, middle and end. The ending in particular needs to satisfy the audience, to sell the piece to the journalist. A fulfilling ending resonates and will make the content memorable.
Creating a ‘hero’ is also an important part of storytelling. Heroes are usually characters with likeable qualities and must contain characteristics that can make the audience relate to them. The ‘hero’ can be an organisation, a product or a person (particularly those who will be buying your product/service).
Overcoming obstacles is a feature found in every storyline and people love to read an underdog story. If setbacks occurred in the making of the final product, include this in your story. Lack of funding, complications with manufacturing companies etc, ensure these are woven into the narrative to appeal to the emotions of the audience.
How are these characteristics put into practice?
Ever watch an ad and immediately after think ‘that was brilliant?’ It is almost guaranteed that its ‘brilliance’ comes from the fact it ticks off almost every aspect of the above characteristics.
The recent Green & Black’s campaign is a great example of a brand using storytelling to their full advantage rather than just trying to straight sell their new product, bars of dark chocolate. Using a play on the fairytale of Little Red Riding Hood and the wolves, the story is a well-written narrative that reaches its conflict with a heart in mouth moment of the wolves catching up with the main character. The resolution occurs when the audience realises she is playing a game of hide and seek with the previously scary looking animals.
The product features briefly at the beginning so that the audience has the product in mind, but then does not appear again until the end with the catchphrase “not everything is as dark as it seems”. The company executes their brand storytelling excellently by using a familiar story concept that captivates the audience’s attention and then entwines it with their brand.