The importance of a good story in PR

Written by Kate Wobschall


good story in PR

Everyone loves a good read. Whether it’s a bit of scandal over a Love Islander’s latest fake tan disaster or an unexpectedly emotional interview with a public figure, a good tale will capture your imagination, will make you want to retell it and will live long in the memory.

It’s the same in the world of PR. It’s our job to share our clients’ stories, to tell people how it all started for a business, where it’s going, what it stands for and what it’s achieved so far.

If you can present a story to the media that’s timely, unusual, inspiring AND is likely to attract thousands upon thousands of click throughs, you’ll be more popular than a chocolate David Attenborough.

And while it’s necessary to have facts and figures to back up what you’re saying, you still need a good hook to capture people’s imaginations. Very lovely as they may be, pie charts and graphs just don’t have the same appeal as a great quote or a fascinating background story.

The story of what you stand for

Developing a strong story for a campaign is crucial. This is what will engage your readers, make them want to find out more and to identify with a brand.

How something makes your audience feel is absolutely key to this, whether it makes them laugh, cry, feel proud or nostalgic.

Take the John Lewis Christmas ad, for example. It’s become completely acceptable for the potential content to be debated at length, leaked to the press then unveiled with the kind of fanfare usually reserved for royal weddings or One Direction reunions.

The beauty of it is, it tells a story – not just during the course of the ad itself but about the brand, about what John Lewis stands for. It’s where the festive season begins, it wouldn’t be Christmas without it and therefore we should all be shopping there otherwise we’re somehow letting our loved ones down, giving them a shoddy version of Christmas.

Christmas is an emotional time, so the ads take aim at our feelings – hurt, abandonment, longing and loneliness are exposed then made better because someone went to the trouble of buying a gift from the right shop.

A story for today

Sometimes the story behind a campaign is less about emotions and more about the news agenda.

Take sustainability, for instance. Everyone’s talking about it. Climate change, electric vehicles, reducing food waste – wherever you look, brands are keen to point out their green credentials. If part of your company’s ethos is to be environmentally friendly, make sure you’re talking about it.

Obviously at the moment there’s a great deal going on with the coronavirus pandemic – how businesses are helping others, are changing their working policies and are working towards solutions. A word of warning though – be authentic or risk the whole thing backfiring horribly.

Today’s audiences can spot a fake story a mile away and instead of tuning in, they’ll be turning off. Be honest, be real and be original – otherwise people will think you’re just jumping on the bandwagon.

Prove it

Assuming now that we have our story and it’s both authentic and newsworthy. How do we get people to believe it?

Well let’s go back to those pie charts we mentioned earlier. While alone they’re not the be all and end all, facts and figures are the bones on which your story will hang. Do your research and present it as part of your story. Don’t be afraid to add in a footnote if you need to reference a particular statistic or survey, it shows you’re thorough and you can prove what you’re saying.

Storytelling is an art form; it’s a fine balance of entertainment, facts and newsworthiness. Even the most fascinating story can be lost without trace if it’s not told properly or in a memorable way. If you need help telling your own story, talk to Faith and we’ll make sure your voice is heard.

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