“You need to be able to write.” “As a PR pro, you’ll still need math!” “Networking is essential in public relations.” These are phrases we continually hear as communications students. But one sentence I have heard much less frequently is, “you need to be able to tell a story.” When you strip away all the elements of PR like the press releases, the analytics and the networking, it is essentially about communicating someone’s story to the world. So why is it that the ability to storytell is such an essential skill to have?
“PR is all about looking for the story that will bring a brand’s message to life.” –Luke Mackay, Edelman
- Stories make people feel. Creating a positive emotion that the public links to your client or brand is key when building a reputation. Generating a story consumers identify with can also create strong brand loyalty. This is something no amount of advertising or research will gain for you.
- It enhances facts. Facts alone can be uninteresting and boring but when they’re worked into a story, your audience becomes more attentive. They are also more likely to retain information when it is woven into a plot.
- They inspire conversation. A compelling story with a strong message gets people talking about your client or brand. Audiences can tell when it’s authentic and will respond accordingly- either with positive or negative feedback.
Storytelling requires a few elements to be truly effective in the same way as classic storytelling. There needs to be a plot with development, conflict and resolution. They also require a hero or heroine the audience can identify with on some level. And finally, great storytelling requires a compelling tale to draw audiences in.
There is one important point to keep in mind when using storytelling to communicate about your client- don’t let the story become bigger than the message itself. Use the story as a vehicle to clearly convey your message to your target audience.