Telling Your Story Through Public Relations

It began innocently, as most things do when a five-year-old is involved. My daughter and I had just finished playing in the backyard, and she asked me to tell her a story.

This was not planned, of course. Again, as with many things involving a five-year-old, it was asked out of the blue. I was put on the spot, tasked to create something original out of thin air.

I did my best. I told a story of a princess who had her crown stolen by a not-so-mean dragon, and her adventure to get it back.

It was simple, fun, and, apparently, effective…because later that night my daughter asked me to tell another story, involving the same princess. This time, I managed to come up with a new plot, and new characters. These characters inevitably carried over to the next story, which was told the following night…and the next…and the next.

Before long, my enterprising daughter had the notion that we should collaborate on creating a book of stories involving these folk who had been so quickly established. She would draw the pictures, while I would write the words.

Last weekend, the writing of the book – a collection of stories, actually – commenced. Since then, what started as a simple tale that I told off the top of my head has become a wonderful bonding experience, but also an exercise in the joy of storytelling.

What does any of this have to do with what we, as PR professionals, do? Well, there’s the plot twist – it’s got just about everything to do with the efforts we, as communications managers, do everyday.

The way I look at it, our job is not to issue press releases, or post items on social media sites, or write website content. It’s to tell our clients’ stories.

Every company has one; they just might not realize it, or know how to tell it. It begins with a central plot conceit – the “high concept,” as it were. Generally, this is the thing that sets each company or product apart. It’s that little nugget that makes their story unique, and hooks the audience into following the rest of the tale.

That tale has many different characters and components. There are the company spokespeople, who help tell the story. Sometimes there are analysts, who help support the points that are made. There are the plot elements – the key features of a product, for example. And there are the vehicles through which the story is told – press releases, social media sites, authored articles, and more.

Finally, there is the audience. Most of the time, that audience is two-fold: it consists of reporters and end-users. Either way, like any audience, both groups need to be held captive by the story we’re trying to tell. Thus, the story needs to be compelling, which often means that it needs to be different, something they’ve never seen before. At the very least, it has to be interesting and useful. And, contrary to popular belief, it can be entertaining – there’s no rule that says that companies cannot have some fun with their communications efforts.

What’s more, the story never has to end. In fact, if successful, it will not end; it’ll just evolve over time, changing with the needs of the audience and the market itself.

That’s another way that corporate communications is like the book that my daughter and I are working on. Right now, we’re on the second story…and she’s got plans for at least two more. After that, I’m sure there’ll be others. That’s perfectly fine with me, because we are creating something special, and having a great time doing it.

You can do the same through your own communications efforts.