What’s the story?

22 August 2023 | 3 min read | PR
James Gwinnett
James Gwinnett

No, this isn’t a reference to Oasis’s iconic album of 1995. ‘Morning glory’ is a private matter… unless Liam Gallagher was singing about the plant in the Convolvulaceae family that unfurls in the early morning.

We digress – let’s bring things back to PR.

Because what is PR if it isn’t story telling?

As the world changes, modernises and digitises, public relations becomes a perpetually broadening discipline, overlapping with content, social media, SEO and more. But none of this changes the basic function of us lowly PRs – as Ab Fab’s Edina so eloquently puts it, we “make things fabulous, make the crap into credible, the dull into delicious.” Put simply, we sell stuff.

Since the dawn of humanity, we’ve been using stories to forge relationships, connect, share information and entertain. From cave paintings to virtual reality, they’re ingrained in society – and in business too. From services to software, all businesses are vying for a share of voice in order to sell their product.

Take Starbucks, the international coffee behemoth, which took its name from the first mate in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. It’s something customers can relate to.

If you don’t believe me, well, it’s science. As this New York Times article explains, studies have shown we enjoy fiction more than fact. Stories stimulate us because they activate more of the brain. More so than statistics, stories stir emotions and empathy. We experience the story as if it were ourselves taking part; we feel.

In the world of PR, the ability to tell a story is more often than not the key to achieving cut-through. Well told, your story can grab a reader’s attention, make your news and content relatable and begin influencing your audience’s response to your business. It’s the start of a relationship – the clue’s right there in what we do; public relations – between business and customer, especially if the end-user can see a benefit in what you’re offering.

So, what makes a great story?

You don’t buy toothpaste because you simply want to own a tube of toothpaste; you buy toothpaste to have healthy, glistening, pearly whites. So, selling a product is about more than the product; it’s about the idea, the vision, the dream.

A story should start with questions; who, where, how, why and what. In the case of the toothpaste, who made it, where was it made, how was it made, why was it made, and what is the benefit to the end-user. If you can define the Ps of storytelling – people, place, process – you’re off to a good start.

For example, there’s a reason that profiling the executives of a business produces a good PR story – it humanises the company. A reader can understand the difficulties of bringing a product to market and relate to the story of a CEO struggling to make ends meet. Similarly, the story of a company’s foundations and its route to success make it genuine. The place makes it tangible, the process makes it authentic.

So, when crafting your business’ story, think of all the elements that bring it to life. Weave them into your communications and you will build a stronger, more genuine connection to your customers.