Once upon a time in the world of marketing, there were three types of agency: PR agencies, direct marketing agencies and advertising agencies.
Life was pretty straightforward. Marketers knew exactly where they stood. Then the digital revolution happened and agency responsibilities blurred. To complicate matters further, a new breed of agency wanted to join the party: content marketing agencies. So the story goes, but how will it end?
[ad id=”187″]In the new, more competitive agency world, PR agencies are coming out on top precisely because of their natural strengths as brand storytellers. It’s the way we work. Before coming up with a story to communicate a brand’s offering, we make sure we are hitting the right notes by addressing the kinds of subject matter that will interest the target audience and hopefully get them to do something like download content or visit a website to find out more information.
Good PR pros have a knack for getting under the skin of their clients’ target audiences and understanding the problems they need to solve, almost as if they are experiencing them firsthand. This depth of insight is what provides the nugget from which to develop content that tells a story that will resonate. Identifying the right problem to solve at the start is what will help to ensure your content is found in search results and stays visible for as long as possible.
Many PR people possess an innate skill that helps them to generate content for different channels that will make an emotional connection with its target audience and be memorable. That’s the ability to tell a good story.
How to tell a good story
John Simmons is an author and brand specialist, who is best known for his work with Innocent Drinks. He has helped change the way businesses communicate. His advice has encouraged more of them to consider using informal language and even humor to get their messages across.
In his book, ‘Dark Angels: How Writing Releases Creativity at Work,” Simmons urges marketers to rebel against the greyness of corporate speak and the blandness of business jargon. “Every boring piece of writing is a missed opportunity,” Simmons writes, “an opportunity to persuade, to cajole, to touch, to surprise.”
Here’s a simple graphic to illustrate the constituents of effective brand communication. Instead of just pushing corporate messages out, PR storytellers create content using plain English to engage the target audience and tell a story that will connect with them on an emotional level.
The reason storytelling works is rooted in neuroscience. Listening to or reading a story activates a part of the brain that processes language, as well as other sensory areas, giving the reader a sense that he or she is having a direct, personal experience. The story creates an emotional response, making the reader feel different They may want to do something, too.
Some great examples of storytelling include the Guinness basketball ad with its unexpected twist at the end that communicates the value of strong friendship so powerfully, and with so few words.
Another example of great content that solves a problem for its target audience and tells a story in an engaging and memorable way is a stylebook produced by our agency to mark the 25th anniversary of an online fashion retailer. The pictorial book featured the real-life stories of 25 customers who shared their style secrets.
The ‘Share a Coke’ campaign from Coca-Cola is a further example of great storytelling. This time, customers were inspired to create their own stories by buying a bottle of coke bearing the name of a friend to give it to them. The product cleverly becomes part of this personal interaction.
Some storytelling tips
How does one replicate those successes?
- Information counts. In a bid to create memorable content that will pull at the heartstrings, don’t leave out the facts and figures. Making key bits of information part of a narrative can be extremely powerful and memorable.
- Listen to your target audience. Great storytelling must speak to your customers directly. Try to understand them implicitly. Take time to prepare a buying persona, but don’t stop there. Speak to your customers to find out exactly what they liked about your offer. Apply this understanding when telling your story.
- Get involved and encourage your audience to share content with you and with others.The ‘Share a Coke’ campaign did this well by encouraging a purchase and inspiring a gift. In taking this action, customers had their own personal story to tell.
- Take the audience on a journey. As with all the best stories, there should be a clear beginning to hook the audience in, a middle and an end, with a clear call to action. Customers should feel that they are on a journey. Virgin Atlantic’s new ad for 2015 literally takes the audience on a flight, giving them choices to make along the way, leading ultimately to a successful ending and an empowering message that their lives are in their own hands.
- Take inspiration from real customer experiences. When researching your target audience, you may come across real stories about how customers discovered your product for the first time and what they were doing at the time. These detailed snippets can inspire great stories that will resonate more widely too.[ad id=”169″]
- Pictures can speak louder than words. Pictures can help you to tell a story in a more memorable way. A general rule to great storytelling is to show rather than tell, and pictures can help you to do that.
- Stories are about people. Put people at the center of your story. We find it easier to relate to real people and their experiences.
Source: RADGAN’S PR DAILY