As PR professionals, we are constantly telling stories—through press releases, media pitches, social media posts, blogs and more. Although the concept of storytelling hasn’t changed, the mediums in which we tell them have evolved and expanded.
So, how can you ensure your messages are well received?
Try keeping these four tips in mind the next time you craft a story.
Determine the Story
Start by choosing a clear central message worth sharing.
Why is it important? What do people need to know?
Some of the best stories start with a company or individual who’s doing something first, interesting or in a unique way. It’s our job as PR pros to ask the right questions and get to the root of those stories and effectively tell them through media opportunities or social platforms.
— Teddy Wingert, Account Executive
If you’re telling a story about an event, it’s not enough to just say an event is happening. Include why the event is special while providing a personal touch. Was there an emotional backstory? Was there an interesting journey that led to the grand opening? Did it take months of planning? Understanding the nuances will help determine the most important aspects of storytelling.
Engage Your Audience
The best storytellers know every story should be tailored to a particular audience. To create an interesting narrative people want to read, the information you’re presenting must be engaging, relevant and timely—the more engaging, the more valuable the content to online audiences and journalists.
In fact, your writing should catch a reader’s attention in as quickly as 6 seconds.
I’ve always found one of the best ways to generate a story is to find a personal hook that appeals to readers’ emotions. Get your audience engaged right off the bat by including a strong, thought-provoking intro, and then pull them in to learn more about the topic at hand.
— Helen Korneffel, Senior Assistant Account Executive
Storytelling is not just for the sake of engaging. The stories we tell should motivate, inspire action and illustrate the main message you’re trying to share. By showcasing a personal experience that provides value for others, your story is much more likely to gain traction across news media and social media.
Craft the Story
Once you have your story’s central idea confirmed and your target audience set, work to develop the story’s complete picture.
Understanding why a story matters to its audience is as important as the story itself. Building an approachable narrative that conveys the why—from the tension and insight to the resolution—can make all the difference to a reader or viewer. It’s the difference between offering a fact sheet with direct information and transporting the audience to a compelling and interesting place.
— Jordan Walker, Senior Account Manager
It’s easy to imagine the difference between reading a list of statistics versus a heart-touching story about two friends making a difference. Being able to evoke a reaction from your audience is really what makes a story worth reading.
Use Compelling Imagery
Accompanying your story with visual elements is a necessity in today’s visual world. According to Cision’s 2021 Global State of Media Report, 82% of respondents included images with their pitches in the last year, 45% included videos, 43% included infographics and 39% included social media posts. And, about a quarter of journalists explicitly said they wish PR pros would include multimedia assets in their press releases.
Compelling visuals can really help bring a story to life—a photo, infographic or interesting piece of video content can communicate a story very effectively or clarify a complex idea or process. When you’re trying to bring a story to life, think through the types of visuals that can help, quite literally, illustrate the story.
— Kim Eberhardt, Senior Account Director, Emerging Talent Manager
There are many ways to make storytelling part of a marketing and communications program. Explore unusual ways to tell a story, target specific audiences and include exciting visuals to make stories stand out.