PR & the Art of Storytelling

by Jessica Teaford

Andy Williams, director of communications and marketing at Nebraska Health Network, visited UNO PRSSA’s February chapter meeting to share his tips on the art of storytelling in PR.

Williams asked the chapter to consider what makes a good story by thinking of our favorite stories; his was The Hunger Games.

Every great story has four
things in common:UNO PRSSA February Chapter Meeting by Kimberly Bailey-11

A character you care about and can identify with….

Who wants something….

And overcomes conflict….

To get it.

(Source: Donald Miller – A Million Miles in a Thousand Years)

“It doesn’t make a great story if it’s a character you don’t care about,” Williams said.UNO PRSSA February Chapter Meeting by Kimberly Bailey-16 “And maybe they want something, but they don’t have to overcome anything; they just get it.”

Everyone wants something, whether it’s love, peace, a state championship, or just to win. Everyone can identify with wanting something and that is what makes anyone care about the story.

“We identify with the struggle,” Williams said. “Watching them finally get what they want makes a great story.”

The key to media storytelling is using “real” people to tell the story. The public does not want to hear a rehearsed script with statistics from a corporate figure. They want “real” people who are experiencing the situation first-hand; they can relate to them.

“Statistics and talking points are fine, but they get stale after a while,” Williams said. “The spokesperson is so well-prepared with polished answers; it’s not personable.”

Next, start storytelling and inspire with the why. Why do you exist? Why should anyone care? Why do you do what you do?
(Source: Simon Sinek – The Golden Circle TED Talk)large_GC_slides_v1.4

There may be a lot of people who do what you do, but you want to give consumers and clients a reason to pick your company over someone else. If they think you are passionate about what you do, they will be too.

A perfect historical example of “inspiring with why” dates back to Martin Luther King Jr. At a time when there was no social media, Internet or national advertising, Martin Luther King Jr. influenced 250,000 people to march on Washington by inspiring with why. He had a dream to end segregation and discrimination. Many others had the same dream. They believed in him because they identified with his purpose, his why.

PR storytelling helps the public, consumers and the media understand your purpose. If you can get people to understand and care about why you do what you do, they might just say: “Yeah, I want that too.”