By Yin Maung, an instructor in our Public Relations Program
We all love a good story. A good story draws us in and grabs our attention. It makes us stop and listen. Even in the realm of social media today, where we are often drowning in a sea of information, we still get captured by a good story every now and then.
In PR, storytelling is important because it allows us to connect with our audience and potentially influence their emotions and ideas. A good story is more persuasive than purely factual content because stories are engaging; listeners and readers always find ways to relate to and empathize with characters in a story.
Tell A Story To Relate
When storytelling, remember this quote from novelist Tony Spencer-Smith:
“Stories need conflict, drama, setbacks. They need a protagonist who learns from the experience. And they need to be written in a clear, conversational style that makes it easy for the reader to be drawn into the narrative.”
Use storytelling to showcase your brand’s values and beliefs, not to sell a product. Create a brand experience by communicating your brand’s values. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty always comes to mind as a prime example. Dove uses storytelling to communicate their beliefs and values, that beauty comes in all shapes, colours and sizes. The audience listens to that story because they relate to Dove’s values and beliefs. Going back to Spencer-Smith’s quote above, we have the protagonists here as the women in the Dove videos, the conflict is society’s unrealistic expectations of what beauty is considered to be, and we learn that we can challenge these prejudices that we have placed upon ourselves.
In the end, it is not about selling a bar of soap or a bottle of shampoo, it is about communicating what the values of the brand are and how the brand relates to the audience. When telling a story, make sure that you incorporate your audience’s needs, the company’s PR objectives, and the current environment to remain relevant.
Now, take a moment to think about your brand. What are the values that you want to communicate? How will you tell that in a story that resonates with your audience?
Use Multiple Formats And Use Your Audience’s Voice
Next, when creating these stories, don’t forget to strike a balance between high-production quality story posts and simpler, in-the-moment experiences that help the audience feel connected to your brand. Some of your stories can be in the format of high-quality videos, carefully produced and edited by professionals to accurately communicate your brand’s values. However, you do not have to create all your stories this way. Other stories can be in the form of more frequent and candid posts on your social media pages.
Remember that you don’t always have to be the one doing the storytelling. You can let your audience tell the story. Use the most fundamental principle of social media: user-generated content. Encourage your audience to become part of the story and make them feel like part of the experience. Set up a well-thought-out space where your audience can tell their stories. Online furniture store Wayfair has a user generated content campaign that lets its customers showcase the results of their online shopping sprees. Using the hashtag #WayfairAtHome, users can post their home setups featuring Wayfair products. This demonstrates that your audience can communicate your brand’s message and values in their stories.
How will you enable your audience to tell their stories through your brand’s channels? Which mediums are appropriate? In which formats will they be interested in sharing? How will you harness the power of their stories?
About the Author
Miss Yin Maung holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree, with a major in marketing and a minor in organizational analysis at the University of Alberta. She also holds the Master of Arts in Communications and Technology program in which her research focused on recent development and integration of social media in organizational settings and the public space. Yin also holds a Multimedia Producer Diploma from Guru Digital Arts College. Yin has 10 years of experience in strategic web communications and new media in various settings such as Alberta Education and Interior Health Authority. Currently, Yin is an adjunct instructor at Farleigh Dickinson University in Vancouver and a web communications specialist for the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association (SCCA).
This articled was inspired by: The Importance of Storytelling in PR form BAER Performance Marketing.
- Posted June 7, 2019