Long Story Short

We frequently introduce new clients to the concept of storytelling . Most people don’t understand the difference between storytelling and messaging, a tag line, or the “elevator statement“.

In storytelling, we are looking for a dramatic story — with a beginning,  a middle, and an end — to help give a reporter an excuse to write about our client. We try to find a tale that will be memorable and strike an emotional chord with the reader. For example:

One of our clients told an epic tale of a sailing competition against their key market competitor. Our client’s main mast broke during rough weather, disabling their ship and taking them out of the race. Normal protocol during this situation would be for any vessel that encountered a crew and ship in distress to offer aid. However, our client recounted that their competitor in the race (and in the market) passed by the disabled ship without stopping. Our client and his crew responded by turning their backs, dropping their pants and saluting their competitor as they passed by. 

This story was irresistible to these reporters who heard it, and countless articles mentioned the incident as a metaphor for the market competition. Our client was positioned as the good guy, facing a dishonorable and unscrupulous competitor.

Good stories have a few things in common:

Characters:  People like to read about people. Is there a hero in your company who has overcome impossible odds? An antagonist or villain that needed defeating? Are there any quirky eccentrics to add color to the story? Any experts who can lend an authoritative voice? These characters can work inside your company, they can be a customer, they can be advisors or partners, and they could be competitors.

Plot:  Most great plots involve some sort of conflict or drama, and that is true of great news stories and case studies, too. When it comes right down to it, there are classic plots or stories that keep getting retold, albeit with different characters and settings. Some of these universal themes include David and Goliath, the Tortoise and the Hare, the Great Quest…. Another source of themes that can be used to interest a reporter in your story include popular television shows, films and books.

Development: Any good story has development – the scenes and anecdotes that move the plot and character along and describe the conflict.

Resolution:  Finally – the ending. Happily Ever After – or even better, a twist can help keep a reporter’s interest. 

How about you? Have you told a good story lately?

Jody PeakeOnPR, Inc

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