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Storytelling: The New (Ancient) Art


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Director of New Media Gina Pappas discusses how businesses can use media storytelling as part of their overall communications strategy and explores how to make four types of media work for you. …

Director of New Media Gina Pappas discusses how businesses can use media storytelling as part of their overall communications strategy and explores how to make four types of media work for you.

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  • Good morning everyone, and welcome to today’s webinar. My name is Gina Pappas, and I will be presenting today’s content.
    Before we get started, I’d like to cover a few administrative details.
    If you experience any technical problems on the call, please feel free to contact ReadyTalk customer service at (800) 843-9166.
    I will be recording today’s webinar and sharing the link with you via email, in case you’d like to review it again or share it with others in your office. Also, the lines on today’s call have been muted to avoid any background noise. You can use the chat function in the lower left side of your screen to chat in your questions throughout the webinar, and I will answer them at the end.
    The presentation will take approximately 20 minutes, and we will have 10 minutes at the end to spend on Q&A. I’m going to set up the webinar recording, then we’ll get started.
    Welcome to today’s webinar, Storytelling: The New (Ancient) Art. My name is Gina Pappas, and I’m the Director of New Media at Albers Communications Group.
  • First, let me tell you a bit about Albers Communications Group….
    We are a full-service PR and social media agency headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. We strongly believe that PR and social media go hand in hand and work best when used as part of an integrated communications strategy.
    We represent clients in all 50 states and Canada. Our team of PR and social media specialists helps our clients achieve exposure nationally and locally in their operating markets throughout the country. We have specialized expertise working with companies that have franchises, offices or branch locations in multiple cities.
  • As I mentioned at the start of the presentation, I’m the Director of New Media, and my role is to help our clients figure out how to integrate social media into their overall strategy. I also manage our Albers social media presence and contribute along with other staff members to our PR Impressions blog. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @ginapappas and connect with me on LinkedIn.
  • Here’s a look at the topics I’ll be covering today:
    First, I will define what has become a popular industry buzz term – media storytelling
    I will suggest several types of stories you can tell and show you examples of each
    Next, I will share with you the key elements for creating a good story about your business
    I will talk about the four main types of media – or storytelling vehicles – you can use to share your message
    I will give you tips on how to build storytelling into your own company’s culture.
    And we’ll close with questions and discussion. Feel free to chat in your questions throughout the presentation.
  • There are two key points I hope you take away from today’s webinar. My first goal is to provide you with guidelines that help you identify the stories happening in your own business. My second goal is to help you maximize good story opportunities when they arise.
    Oftentimes when we’re working with clients, we can easily and quickly identify potential media storytelling ideas that they may not have considered. This is where media storytelling comes into play.
    Using media storytelling to tell your stories engages your audience. When they are absorbed in a story, they are moved far more emotionally than they are by reading facts and dry statistics; that type of information can lead to criticism and skepticism. But when you tell a story, your audience becomes engaged and ends up dropping their intellectual guard.
  • In his book, Tell to Win, author Peter Guber argues that humans simply aren’t moved to action by “data dumps,” facts or figures. Guber emphasizes that people are moved by emotion, and the best way to emotionally connect other people to our agenda begins with media storytelling.
    To break it down further, the basics of media storytelling is that it
    (walk through slide)
  • Just like a good book, the qualities of a good media story follow some basic storytelling principles.
    There’s the angle, which is the overall position or “take” of the story
    There’s a hook, or some other strategy that grabs your attention and leaves you wanting more
    There are people…either sources or central characters who humanize the story
    There’s a visual element. A common term in newsrooms nowadays is “show and tell,” which emphasizes the impact of a visual story
    There’s a call-to-action – something that inspires the audience to take an action: visit a website, utilize a product, or start following a brand socially
    There’s a conflict…this is often the newsworthy piece that drives media attention.
    Lastly, there’s accessibility and something the audience finds relatable – appealing to a broad audience is the greatest way to have your story told through earned media channels.
  • Until recently we’ve only been able to speculate about story’s persuasive effects. But over the last several decades psychology has begun a serious study of how story affects the human mind. Results repeatedly show that our attitudes, fears, hopes, and values are strongly influenced by story.
    There are several types of stories you can tell, and in the following slides, I will describe each in further detail. They include
    (walk through slide)
  • Problem/solution stories are among the most common types of stories that earn media exposure. If you present a problem that has a broad appeal to a large audience – and offer your product or service as the solution – you can oftentimes gain media exposure. As I mentioned earlier when I walked you through examples of good storytelling, I mentioned the angle. In the problem/solution story, the angle is that your product or service can provide mass appeal.
    In the example you see here, we distributed information on behalf of our client, Merry Maids, about how the tough fall allergy season impacted local residents – and how properly cleaning your home could provide some relief from allergy symptoms. We were able to schedule an interview with a local TV station that ran during the newscast and online, in which the Merry Maids franchise owner appeared as the expert on how to clean your home properly as a way to reduce the presence of allergens in the home. We also shared the interview on the client’s social platforms, which provided offline and online integration.
  • Another type of story you can tell is a human interest or person-driven story. Albers Communications Group was featured as an example of this type of story about a month ago, when Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced that employees would no longer be allowed to work from home. Because our staff works remotely, we were profiled in the Omaha World-Herald, and the message told within the story centered around how I – as the interview subject, or central character as it relates to media storytelling – make it work. So what we did here was take a relevant national example and put a local, human face on it. That’s part of telling a good human interest story.
  • Behavioral stories inspire people to take action or change an attitude. We developed a program for our client, Home Instead Senior Care, called the 40/70 rule. The premise of the program was that, if you’re 40 and your parent is 70, it’s time to have a discussion about senior care options. This program was extremely successful in inspiring behavioral changes among Home Instead’s target audience – in fact, it was recognized by the Public Relations Society of America as a Silver Anvil award winner, meaning it was one of the best public relations programs in the country.
    This is where the call-to-action element of good media storytelling comes into play; the action our campaign inspired was to encourage the audience to contact Home Instead Senior Care for the 40/70 materials.
  • Trend stories are another type of story your business can tell. For our client, Verizon Wireless, we developed a story around tax time and the various phone apps that can help you make taxes…less taxing. Tax apps are a relatively new trend, so telling the story – which, again, appeals to a large segment of the audience and also has a problem/solution element to it – resulted in multiple stories for our client.
    Remember earlier I mentioned an important story element is visual interest.  In this case, we suggested that the reporter actually show the tax apps and give a demonstration to make the story more visually appealing.
  • Earlier this week, in the aftermath of the tragedy at the Boston Marathon, we had the opportunity to tell a breaking news story. Especially when it comes to breaking stories such as this one, you have to be sensitive to your audience and make sure the messaging is educational. We distributed information on how to maintain personal safety in a crowd situation shortly following the Boston incident, and received multiple local and national placements on behalf of our client that provides security services.
  • There are four main types of media you can use to tell your story. They are earned media, shared media, owned media and paid media. On the following slides, I will further break down each type and provide examples.
  • Earned media is unpaid exposure, which is often achieved through traditional news channels such as newspaper, TV, radio or magazine. It also has an online component, which comes in the form of inbound linking and blogger relations.
    We’ve created a press room on our website where we host all of the earned media exposure we’ve achieved for Albers, which is a great way to highlight to your audience how active you are in telling your own story.
  • Shared media is the newest form of media and a term that you may not be familiar with. It uses audience participation or input to tell its story, which makes social channels such as Facebook and Twitter fall into this category. Because your audience can post content on your Facebook wall, comment or share a post, they are part of the conversation – and content. Same goes for Twitter. If your audience can re-Tweet you or reply to you, they’re shaping your content.
    The example you see here is a contest we ran in conjunction with our client, Signal 88 Security, called Operation American Dream: From Battlefield to Boss. The contest had an online voting component and was prominently featured across multiple social channels, so the outcome of the contest is largely determined by audience participation.
  • Owned media refers to storytelling vehicles that you own and can control. Examples include online properties such as your website, your email marketing strategies and in the case of the example here, online videos. Testimonials like this example from our client, Paul Davis Restoration, provide the opportunity for someone who has experience with your business to share with the rest of your audience what makes you so outstanding.
    In today’s online-driven world, having a robust owned media presence is necessary; plus, it’s the one storytelling medium that allows you to fully control the message, so take advantage of it!
  • Paid media is taking an advertising approach to promoting your business. Anybody can use paid media to advance their message, and it encompasses both offline and online strategies – from broadcast or print advertising to Google AdWords. Because the business trying to gain the exposure can pay for it, it’s the least credible form of media and the one that sticks with your audience for the shortest period of time.
  • I’d like to take you through an example of a story we recently told for our client, Grace University, that incorporated three out of the four media types I’ve shared with you today. The story we were telling was Grace’s addition of a new sport, women’s soccer, to their athletic program. The focus of the story was on the new coach, Tanya Benning, who used to be a member of the Canadian World Cup team.
    To help tell Grace’s story, we used one of their owned media types – their website – to prominently feature a video of the new coach and tell her story. We also deployed an earned media strategy through media relations in the local market, which resulted in a story in the Omaha World-Herald. To support the owned and earned media, we told the story through one of our shared platforms, Facebook, which allowed Grace’s audience to comment, like and share the story – making their personal audiences aware of Grace’s news, too. This campaign illustrates how the three most credible forms of storytelling can be used together for maximum exposure.
  • When you return to your workday following this webinar, you may be wondering how you start telling your company’s own stories. First, you have to start by building storytelling into your culture. Designate someone on your team who is responsible for gathering the stories, and get the process going through internal dialogue – perhaps a meeting to discuss your business and its goals – and make that dialogue ongoing.
    Your designated storyteller can find stories by fostering an environment that promotes idea-sharing. We tell our clients that the more information they can provide to us about what’s happening in their day-to-day work, the more opportunities we have to identify the stories that might be compelling for their audience. So sharing anything and everything with your storyteller allows them to sort through the information and identify the best stories.
    To help you get started with identifying possible topics, take a look at the work you do. Talk about your successes, share third-party articles relevant to your industry or discuss a trend. And, don’t forget your people…honoring the team that makes your company tick is compelling because it makes them part of the story, which inspires shares and potentially grows your audience. Things like personal awards, business anniversaries or office birthdays often make the most compelling content – especially on shared social media channels.
  • Before getting to your questions, I wanted to tell you about the upcoming webinars in our ongoing series.
    On June 19, founder and CEO Tom Albers will be talking about best practices for avoiding and managing potential crisis situations in your business.
    And on August 21, Vice President and Director of Public Relations Debbie Hilt will discuss media interview preparation and share some of our best media training tips.
    You can pre-register for both of these webinars at:
    This is the same place that you can go to listen to the recording of today’s webinar as well as recordings of all of our past presentations.
  • Before we begin the question and discussion portion of the webinar, I wanted to let you know that once the session is over, a questionnaire will appear on your screen. If you don’t mind taking a few minutes to provide your comments about today’s webinar or share topic suggestions you’d like us to address in future webinars, we would value the feedback.
    And now I’d like to answer any questions you have. If you haven’t done so already, please feel free to chat in your questions.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Storytelling: The New (Ancient) Art For the audio portion of today’s event, dial 1-866-740-1260 and enter code 2925553
    • 2. About Albers Communications Group • Full-service PR, social media and marketing communications agency • Specialize in integrated strategies • Represent clients in all 50 states and Canada • Create national and local market exposure
    • 3. About Gina Pappas • Director of New Media • Senior PR Specialist • On Twitter @ginapappas
    • 4. Today’s Topics • • • • • • What is media storytelling? Elements of a good story Types of stories you can tell Four storytelling vehicles Building storytelling into your culture Questions and discussion
    • 5. Our Objectives Provide you with guidelines to help you identify the stories happening in your business. Help you understand how to identify and maximize good story opportunities when they arise.
    • 6. What is Media Storytelling? Media storytelling basics • Embodies your brand and business • Inspires people to engage, share and take action • Makes a meaningful, lasting connection with your audience
    • 7. Elements of a Good Story A memorable and lasting story includes: • • • • • • • Angle Hook/attention-grabber Sources/central characters Visual interest Call-to-action/reader engagement Conflict/crisis resolution Accessible/relatable
    • 8. Types of Stories You Can Tell Determine the type of story you want to tell • • • • • Problem/solution People-driven/human interest Behavioral Trend Breaking stories
    • 9. Problem/Solution Stories
    • 10. People-Driven/Human Interest Stories
    • 11. Behavioral Stories
    • 12. Trend Stories
    • 13. Breaking Stories
    • 14. Four Storytelling Vehicles What vehicles are most effective for your story? • • • • Earned media Shared media Owned media Paid media
    • 15. Earned Media What is earned media?
    • 16. Shared Media What is shared media?
    • 17. Owned Media What is owned media?
    • 18. Paid Media What is paid media?
    • 19. Three Media Types – One Example Owned Shared Earned
    • 20. Building Storytelling into Your Culture Tell your own story • Build storytelling into your culture • Designate your storyteller • Create internal dialogue • How to find stories • Foster idea-sharing • Share anything and everything • Where to find stories • Your work • Your people
    • 21. Upcoming Webinars Crisis Control! • Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 10 a.m. Central • Facilitated by Tom Albers Media Interview Essentials: Tell Your Story Like a Pro • Wednesday, August 21, 2013, 10 a.m. Central • Facilitated by Debbie Hilt Pre-register at
    • 22. Questions & Discussion @alberscg /AlbersCommunicationsGroup