Art of Storytelling in Public Relations


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A recent presentation on the Art of Storytelling in media relations.

Art of Storytelling in Public Relations

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  2. 2. Story Telling Grabbing a reporter’s attention NOW and for the long haul The Wolcott Company
  3. 3. <ul><li>“ A fact, wrapped in an emotion that compels us to take an action that transforms our world.” </li></ul><ul><li>The Elements of Persuasion </li></ul><ul><li>Richard Maxwell and Robert Dickman </li></ul>The Wolcott Company Definition of a story
  4. 4. <ul><li>Where Storytelling Works </li></ul><ul><li>The difficult feature pitch </li></ul><ul><li>Do you want a front-page story or a inside brief? </li></ul><ul><li>There will be more </li></ul><ul><li>Controversy </li></ul><ul><li>Regional, national, local </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  5. 5. <ul><li>Where Storytelling </li></ul><ul><li>Usually DOESN’T Work </li></ul><ul><li>Publicly traded companies </li></ul><ul><li>Release of a medical study </li></ul><ul><li>Breaking news </li></ul><ul><li>Controversy </li></ul><ul><li>News in the “Starbucks” era </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  6. 6. <ul><li>Obstacles to telling a story </li></ul><ul><li>Reluctant boss </li></ul><ul><li>No “meat” on the bone </li></ul><ul><li>Skeptical reporter </li></ul><ul><li>Not the right time </li></ul><ul><li>Busy news cycle </li></ul><ul><li>Lawyers </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  7. 7. <ul><li>Obstacles to telling a good story </li></ul><ul><li>The wrong angle or phrase </li></ul><ul><li>Starbuck </li></ul><ul><li>vs. </li></ul><ul><li>Pequod </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  8. 8. Reluctant boss or client <ul><li>Build your case </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Present the long-term goal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is the urgency? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provides a more complete picture of the company’s progressive culture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Motivates employees </li></ul></ul><ul><li>This could take time </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  9. 9. Meat on the bone <ul><li>Onions have layers = Play Reporter </li></ul><ul><li>Find the person behind the story </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why was this medicine created? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Research how stories got into print </li></ul><ul><li>Get rid of throwaway phrases </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Leader in the industry” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ We’re committed” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Part of our annual investment in..” </li></ul></ul>The Wolcott Company
  10. 10. Process to get “Meat” <ul><li>Start with the basic questions of a reporter </li></ul><ul><li>Why me? </li></ul><ul><li>Why now? </li></ul><ul><li>Why should I care? </li></ul><ul><li>How does this affect the average person? </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  11. 11. Process to get “Meat” <ul><li>Talk to the “line” staff </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Less “filtered” information </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Talk to real customers </li></ul><ul><li>Research, research, research </li></ul><ul><li>Pretend you’re writing an op-ed </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  12. 12. Research <ul><li>Google similar stories, phrases </li></ul><ul><li>Check out the competition’s press releases </li></ul><ul><li>Bloggers tell stories everyday </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  13. 13. Making Emotional Connections <ul><li>How would I tell this to my grandmother? </li></ul><ul><li>How would I interest </li></ul><ul><li>my teen-age daughter </li></ul><ul><li>and her friends? </li></ul><ul><li>Why is it important to talk about real people vs. make fun of them on YouTube? </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  14. 14. Skeptical reporter <ul><li>The “sound bite” pitch </li></ul><ul><ul><li>I can deliver real people affected by this </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Your chance to see the human side of our company </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You seem personally interested in this topic </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Is now a good time? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There is much more to this story </li></ul></ul>The Wolcott Company
  15. 15. Timing the busy news cycle <ul><li>Every day: Hundreds of products or stories that sound like yours </li></ul><ul><li>Use slow times </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Veteran’s Day or the holidays </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Consider a trade publication first </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Longer lead time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More space </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Reminders, updates to keep original pitch alive </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  16. 16. Lawyers The Wolcott Company
  17. 17. Elements of a good story <ul><li>A great beginning </li></ul><ul><li>Support the lead </li></ul><ul><li>Meaty, but lean </li></ul><ul><li>A good ending, like a call to action </li></ul><ul><li>Kevin Dugan </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  18. 18. Elements of a good story <ul><li>A person </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Easier to tell the story with a “live” one </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Perspective or Context </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Today, more than 1 million people suffer…” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Timing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ In three weeks……” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Layers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Blend emotions and facts </li></ul></ul>The Wolcott Company
  19. 19. Instant death <ul><li>No “news” or a very, very long a lead </li></ul><ul><li>Poor grammar </li></ul><ul><li>No depth </li></ul><ul><li>No “perspective” </li></ul><ul><li>Not applicable to “today” </li></ul><ul><li>Acronyms </li></ul><ul><li>Commas </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  20. 20. Easy to understand ?? <ul><li>During the company's five regional hotel owner conferences held this fall, Choice Hotels International, Inc. (NYSE: CHH), in conjunction with all of its franchise owners associations, celebrated the inaugural year of its Awards for Property Excellence (APEX) program by honoring over 100 individual hotel owners and staff members from across the country for their outstanding performance in a number of different categories. </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  21. 21. Tell the story <ul><li>Practice…… from the heart </li></ul><ul><li>Engage not manipulate </li></ul><ul><li>Create a PowerPoint </li></ul><ul><li>This is “real” not SNL </li></ul><ul><li>What you won’t find in a Google search </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  22. 22. Techniques <ul><li>Tactics that work up to a pitch </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Have evidence handy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Third-party “validations” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A personal blog </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An online presence (digital story) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Add video, graphics, audio </li></ul><ul><ul><li>IF IT ADDS TO THE STORY!!! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Think like a reporter </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  23. 23. Examples The Wolcott Company
  24. 24. Paint a picture <ul><li>Water District – pumps water from far away. People only know what comes out of tap. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Engineer” water </li></ul><ul><li>“ Water you drink </li></ul><ul><li>may have come from Wyoming” </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  25. 25. Humanize <ul><li>Fluoridation </li></ul><ul><li>Dental story of youth in school </li></ul><ul><li>Got families to talk about impact of economic condition and dental health </li></ul><ul><li>Sourced history of “facts” and “stories” </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  26. 26. Resources <ul><li>“ Art of Persuasion” </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Richard Maxwell and Robert Dickman </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>“ How Come No One Knows About Us?“ </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Robert Deigh </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  27. 27. The Wolcott Company National Day of Listening November 28, 2008 Studs Terkel R*I*P