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Build your media relations campaign (and your business) via the power of storytelling

By Jessica Harcombe Fleming
Tuesday, October 23 2018

You can line up all the facts and figures you want to back up your media relations campaign, but your storytelling has to hit the mark if you want your brand’s message to cut through the noise.

There’s a reason that journalists talk about writing stories, not reports: everyone likes a new and engaging story. Fans of reports are much rarer.

That’s a clear example of why even in the way you define what you do, it’s important to remain relevant, timely and informative if you want to reach the right audience.

A story, one with a personal touch, brings your business to life in a way that a bald recounting of all you have achieved and all that you can deliver for a customer never will.

Telling stories about the people in and behind a business is one of the central tenets of any media relations campaign we devise for B2C and B2B customers.

Every brand has a story to tell

I shared tips on the power of storytelling on a panel during Vancouver Startup Week at the end of last month. What we know is that every brand, no matter how fresh, has a story to tell. The trick is to work out who you want to tell it to and why it matters – and then what your story should be.

The benefits of storytelling in your public relations strategy are clear. It is essential at the outset for any new or growing brand. You’ll need one to attract investors, and to prime the market ahead of launch.

This can be fairly simple – it’s what you tell anyone who asks why you struck out on your own: the opportunity you saw to fill a new or existing need, why the experience you have accrued meant you just had to do it, what you can do that sets you apart.

I’m yet to meet an entrepreneur who does not have an inspirational story about those early days, even if they think their origins are fairly ordinary.

As your brand develops, your media relations campaign needs stories that get your brand in front of a growing network of clients and customers and allows you to engage with the community. You’ll launch new products and services, which require more stories to build excitement, brand awareness and a solid customer base.

Media relations shouts about success

As your success burgeons, you’ll want your strategy to let people know about new products, expansions and awards, or to be featured in business profiles in trade or industry publications.

Knowing how to tell the story is as important as finding a story to tell. Are you looking to penetrate the market using audience-specific blogs or via social media platforms? One requires brilliantly promoted, well-written content, laced with discreet SEO terms. The other looks to get through in a shorter-form, rich content-led manner.

The approach for the media differs again, with the demands of traditional print or digital news similar to, but not the same as, broadcast journalists’ requirements.

But each stage of the process, and each tailored story shares the same purpose – to move new customers down the road towards conversion.

The hook your storytelling needs

To get there, all your stories require a creative hook and an answer to the questions “why now?” and “why should I care?”

To find your story, there are questions you can ask yourself:

  • What is your “why”? Your purpose for doing what you do?
  • What makes you stand out from the competition (if any) in the space?
  • Are you filling a need in the marketplace?
  • Are you introducing a new concept or product that's never been seen before?
  • Is now the time to share this with the world?
  • Does what you are offering connect to a current trend?
  • Are you solving a problem for your potential customers?

The heart of storytelling in PR

That final question cuts to the very heart of storytelling. Every story ever retold – whether fact or fiction – has a conflict, a problem or a surprise at its centre. It’s a story because something different or anecdotal happened. And in the best stories, everything changes because of that something different.

It’s your point of difference, or the problem you solve for customers, that ultimately wins you new customers. So in your story, your brand has to identify a problem and provide the solution.

There are two further questions to ask that will determine your strategy and the method of telling your story:

  • Who is my audience and where do they find their information?
  • Who is the best person to tell this story – your founder, CEO, front-line staff, customers, or influencers?

And that just leaves you with the blank page to fill … how do we bring all of these aspects together to make the magic happen?

Beattie Tartan is the integrated communications specialist. Call 800 400 3831 to learn how we can use the power of storytelling to boost your brand and grow your business.