How to Identify and Tell a Great Story

Whether it’s a speech, a news release, a white paper, an article for your website or to send to media, a video news release, a video series or any other communications vehicle – it is all about the story. It is one of the opportunities and one of the challenges of public relations. An organization needs to really dig deep and build a credible story to interest stakeholders.

To help determine your story’s news value, ask yourself the questions below.

Is the story timely and relevant? It’s surprising how many things are put forward as great ideas and when we dig a little deeper, we realize that it’s not timely. With few exceptions, there is a time element attached that makes the story “old” before you realize it.

Does the story have significance to a trend, a cultural standard or shift? What does the story mean in the bigger context of your organization, industry or the world? Does it show a shift in how things are done? Is it a part of a growing trend or does it buck a trend that most people are starting to see as a standard?

Who will care about this story? We have had clients with “news” that makes their team jump and down with excitement, but outside of their organization, it means nothing. Understand that what might be of interest within your industry, may have no value to the larger business community. It’s still may be worth telling a story to a specific audience, but it’s important to know who that audience is.

What is the best way to tell this story? This is all relevant to the specific story and the audience you want to connect with. Sometimes video is the right medium, other times, an editorial style article or a white paper provides a more relevant way to share the information. Deciding how to tell your story first starts with finding out what stakeholder group you want to tell it to, then identifying how this specific group likes to receive information, and then determining the best way to tell the story. All of these elements have to come together and create a compelling “package” for the story. If you create a video for a demographic that doesn’t watch video, you likely won’t get many viewers. However, it may be that you have multiple stakeholder groups and need to tell the story through several mediums – a video, an article and a Q&A with experts.

How can you expand and extend the reach of this story? It may be as straightforward as telling the story through different mediums. It can also be telling the story from different angles through those mediums – the technical aspect, the human resources aspect, the collaboration and teamwork, or the business outcomes. Once you have defined the story and the primary audience and mediums(s), take another good look and search for additional opportunities. Is there a complementary approach that would let you create something that can be shared with your board of directors, with government, or used in sales meetings or speaking engagements?

2 Comments, RSS

  1. Val Lapp Aug 18, 2011 @ 5:11 AM

    And let’s face it, thinking as the audience, we’re drawn to compelling stories ourselves. Like kindergarten children, we’ll put down our toys and sit down in the reading circle for a long time, until we know how the story ends.

  2. Paul Holman Aug 18, 2011 @ 7:28 AM

    Thank you for the comment Val.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: