“You’re never going to kill storytelling, because it’s built in the human plan. We come with it” – Margaret Atwood
As human beings, we crave stories. Tales of epic battles across the pages of time, of villains and rogues sweeping the dark streets of a fantasy landscape, of unending heartbreak or the clashing of two star crossed lovers.
Stories allow us to feel a sense of belonging, of empathy, and help us to navigate the often-rocky social landscape by giving us a mechanism to process what goes on around us.
Every day we are relentlessly bombarded by businesses fighting to get our attention. Everywhere we turn, to the point where it is often difficult to distinguish one business or brand from another. So what makes a company really stand out? It’s ability to strike at the heart of its audience through compelling and engaging storytelling.
What role does PR play in telling stories?
A lot of what’s involved in the role of a PR practitioner is carving out a brand’s identity, helping it to distinguish itself not simply because of what it offers in terms of goods or services, but also what lies at the heart of the organization – it’s ethos, it’s people, it’s stance on global issues. But as consumers, we don’t want that presented to us in a list of well thought out bullet points and expect that’s enough and call it a day.
No, part of the challenge of PR is creating a narrative that tells the story of the brand, without boring the public to sleep. We like to see beyond the barriers, beyond the advertisements, beyond the bright lights and fancy tactics. As brilliantly put by Steve Clayton, Chief Storyteller at Microsoft – “‘When is the last time you went to dinner and said ‘Let me tell you about this data’? No one does that. They say ‘Let me tell you a story…’”
From a purely selfish perspective, I love to hear what goes on behind the scenes of a company, and I think it’s important for a business to document not only the positives, but also acknowledge the negatives. I like to see the processes behind the screen – what worked, what didn’t work, ideas that flopped, employees that shone through. Authenticity and trust in a brand come from transparency, and telling stories is such an important way to build that trust between an organisation and it’s stakeholders.
Tell me about the people, the places, the processes – and then tell me about the product.
‘Let me tell you a story…’
Great storytelling yearns to be shared and used effectively a story can do wonders for a brand within the shared media sphere. Allow the customer into the world you’re sharing, let them become so engrossed and invested that they can’t help but to share that story with their family, friends, co-workers, a stranger they happen to be chatting to at the bus stop.
I think that’s why I personally like to insert a little bit of myself into the things I write. I want whoever happens to be reading this (or any of my other posts – go on, check them out, you know you want to) to feel that little piece of me in there. To feel the person behind the words, and to become invested in the things I have to say.
Do you like to feel that way when faced with a brands communication, or even just the blog of a PR student?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Let me know what you think in the comments and let’s tell stories together!
Until next time,