Posts Tagged ‘storytelling’


How to Change the Conversation About Your Brand Through Disruptive Storytelling

Thursday, July 10th, 2014
How to Change the Conversation About Your Brand Through Disruptive Storytelling Tressa Robbins BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Public Relations PRSA PR Media Monitoring Press Clipping McDonalds

flickr user Tsahl Levent-Levi under CC BY license

We all know that storytelling is a key component of public relations. We tell stories to enhance our brand, our client and/or our mission. You know your story is being heard, but is your audience really listening?

McDonald’s USA public relations manager Christina Tyler, APR, spoke last week at the PRSA Midwest District Conference on how to be disruptive to get your points across. She began by showing McDonald’s advertising clips, spanning four decades (that’s 40 years for those who are math-challenged), all saying their burgers are 100% pure beef. This message was loud and clear in the ads; yet, in nearly every focus group, the main question people had was “What’s in the beef?”

Tyler talked about consumers seeing Super Size Me and making (incorrect) assumptions about their ingredients. Or, perhaps they saw a Facebook post that was a hoax, myth or urban legend, but gets passed along by the uninformed as truth. She discussed how stimuli gets interpreted by our beliefs to form “facts” that may not be facts at all. Perception IS reality.

Time to get disruptive! It doesn’t have to be “in your face” or rude, and you shouldn’t feel obliged to engage trolls. What you do need to do is to interrupt the flow of information. Tyler laid out six disruptive tactics McDonald’s has used and why they work:

 1. Start on the inside of the organization

  • Make sure the customer’s voice is present. Be sure your messages, campaigns and programs support what the marketing team is saying/doing. Push your organization’s tolerance.
  • This works because consumers are naturally “me” focused. Consistency across all touch points improves the likelihood of being heard.

2. Play to the heart

  • Leverage your history and shared cultural experiences (like the Dove soap commercials, for example). Lead with your values. Step aside and let fans tell the stories that matter to them.
  • This works because it makes people feel “warm and fuzzy” so they are more likely to listen. People like to share their own stories—you simply provide the platform.

3. Transparency

  • Show them everything.
  • People need to see to believe.

4. Change the messenger

  • Move away from corporate spokespeople and toward real people. Credibility doesn’t always equal credentials.
  • Letting someone they trust share the story improves believability.

5. Provide unexpected access

  • First, broaden your idea of who should get access. Offer face time with CEO, or take them behind the scenes, or better yet—put them to work. Let them experience it–see it, touch it, feel it. Tyler gave the example here of taking a blogger to the farm where McDonald’s ingredients are grown and having them crack an egg or pick a piece of lettuce.
  • Seeing is believing; doing is even better. That’s why this works.

6. Take yourself out of context

  • Make it possible for customers to experience you in a new milieu. Surprise them by doing something unexpected of your brand. For example, last year, McDonald’s held a Top Chef event in New York where they gave top chefs the ingredients used in McDonald’s restaurants and had them create a menu. They invited 100 people to sample the results. People were amazed that these gourmet dishes came from the same ingredients as are found under their local ”golden arches.”
  • You can probably see from the example why this works. If you can truly set aside existing perceptions, then you have better odds at engaging in a new dialogue.

So, ask yourself, is what’s standing in the way of me disrupting the status quo and getting my message across the adherence to doing things the way it has always been done just because that’s the way it’s always been done? If the answer is yes, then get disruptive!

Break Through the Content Surplus by Turning Your Brand Into a Media Company

Monday, December 16th, 2013
Michael Brito and Tressa Robbins at Social:IRL event in St. Louis.

Michael Brito and Tressa Robbins at Social:IRL event in St. Louis.

In his new book, Your Brand, The Next Media Company, social business strategist and author Michael Brito discusses the social business transformation that’s taking place (and much more).

I’ve followed Michael (aka @Britopian) and virtually interacted with him for a couple years and but had not met him in real life—that is, until Social:IRL brought him to St. Louis to present “How A Social Business Strategy Can Enable Better Content, Smarter Marketing And Deeper Customer Relationships.”

The book just arrived and I haven’t yet had a chance to read it, but below are just a few snippets from his presentation.

Brito began with the five truths that are shaping today’s digital ecosystem:

  • There is a content and media surplus.
  • There is an attention deficit.
  • The customer journey is dynamic.
  • Consumers have tunnel vision.
  • Everyone is influential (regardless of your Klout, PeerIndex, Kred scores).

To top it off, with all this chaos, business objectives remain constant. This means YOU have to change, and Brito suggests you and your organization start to think and act like a media company.  Change makes sense, but why a media company? What is a media company anyway?

According to Brito, your brand must adopt these five characteristics if you want to break through the clutter.

  • Storytelling: Media companies tell stories. Traditional news organizations also tell stories but theirs are typically recent and breaking news. Your brand as a media company will have to decide what story you want to tell and how you want to tell it.
  • Content: Media companies are content machines with an “always on” mentality.
  • Relevance: Media companies provide content that is relevant to those who are seeking information at a very specific moment in time.
  • Ubiquity: Media companies are omnipresent. They dominate search engine results and their content is shared daily across various social channels.
  • Agility: Media companies are nimble and able to move quickly. They have writers on-hand ready to produce content on any topic at any time, as well as creative teams capable of producing visual content on-demand. They are not captives to brand team or legal counsel approvals.

Brito goes beyond the “why” and details the “how to:”

  • Build a team.
  • Assign roles and responsibilities.
  • Define your brand narrative.
  • Create channel strategy.
  • Establish the content supply chain.
  • Build real-time capabilities.
  • Integrate converged media models.
  • Invest in the right technology.

He discussed his definition of a social business strategy, the pillars of the social business transformation, using social business framework to enable positive outcomes, and more.  I have several pages of notes from his presentation and will provide some additional takeaways in my next post but a couple of blog posts cannot summarize 247 pages of integrated marketing brilliance as well as multiple case studies from brand leaders worldwide!

Do you agree that brands must become, or are already transforming into, media companies? Is your brand (or client) moving in this direction?

Taking Control of Your Career: 7 Tips From ‘Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office’ Applicable to All Genders

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

by Deborah Gilbert-Rogers*

books_office

As the New Year progresses, I find myself drawn to reading a number of professional coaching, personal finance, marketing and sales books. Being a bit of a book junkie and wanting to reduce clutter, I now download samples to the Kindle app on my smart phone before purchasing a physical copy. (This is one millennial who won’t give up her physical books.)

One sample captured my attention recently, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers, to such the extent that I purchased and downloaded a digital copy of the book right then and there! Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, part of Dr. Lois P. Frankel’s  Nice Girls series, examines the unconscious messages women are taught in girlhood – which may or may not be helpful – that are then continued in womanhood and how these behaviors and messages influence a woman’s ability to progress in her career (as well as other areas of her life).

For Frankel the emphasis is on the word “girl” not on “nice.” Dr. Frankel is the first to point out these learned behaviors are not exclusive to women and that men experience their own set of messages in boyhood that affect them in manhood. However, our culture has an insidious way of encouraging woman to continue girlhood messages and behaviors in ways that differ from men.

Here are some of the “mistakes” I think relate to most business and PR professionals, regardless of gender, and tips for taking charge of your career.

1. Not Understanding the Needs of Your Constituents: Whether it’s our client, CEO, stakeholder, customer or target audience – we all have people that we serve. It is imperative to know what they need and want. Otherwise we risk missing an opportunity by not providing value. “The trap many women fall into is thinking they know what’s best for their constituents and therefore not asking the right questions on the front end,” writes Frankel. One way Frankel suggests to overcome this behavior is to “be more concerned with doing the right thing than doing things right.” In other words, don’t be afraid to shift perspectives as new data emerge and as change is warranted.

2. Skipping Meetings: Attending meetings is just as much about personal branding and marketing as it is about the content explains Frankel. She suggests, “Using meetings as an opportunity to showcase a particular skill or piece of knowledge (provided it’s not note taking or coffee making.)”  Additionally, “Ask to be invited to a meeting where you’ll have the chance to meet senior management or make a presentation about something for which you need support.”

3. Ignoring the Importance of Network Relationships: Years ago people believed that showing-up for work and doing a good job would be enough to protect their careers, explains Frankel. Unfortunately many still buy into this belief today and have been taught that building relationships at work wastes time and distracts from the job at hand. Frankel suggests actively participating in a professional association and developing relationships before they are needed. If you wait until you need the relationship, it is too late.  

4. Making Up Negative Stories: As PR and communications professionals we understand the importance of storytelling and the power it has to influence audience perception and behavior. However, as women we have a habit of creating negative stories and assuming we’ve done something wrong in order to explain a mistake or why something didn’t go as planned, addresses Frankel. In the workplace, this negatively affects our ability to take positive risks and trust our intuition. Frank suggestions beginning to “replace negative stories with neutral ones” and to look at “alternative scenarios that could explain what has happened that have nothing to do with you doing something wrong.”

5. Failing to Define Your Brand: Just like corporate branding and marketing, personal branding involves defining the value you bring to the table and how you stand apart from the competition. Frankel advises coming up with three to five things you enjoy most about your position as a way to start defining your personal brand. The reason? “We tend to be good at what we like,” notes Frankel. Then relate these strengths to your position and what you bring to it. Having these statements in place will help set you apart from the competition, whether that is within the organization or externally when delivering a proposal to a client or prospect.

6. The Inability to Speak the Language of Your Business: While there are times when it is best to avoid jargon, you must still be able to use the language of the entire business. “Influence comes from knowing the business, and one of the best ways you can exercise your influence is to use language unique to your industry and profession,” writes Frankel. Beyond your area of expertise and department, familiarize yourself with the ROI, bottom line, and other performance indicators of your corporation or client. BurrellesLuce offers a great newsletter on Finance for Communicators which is available in our free resource center.

7. Using Gestures Inconsistent with Your Message: Presentation is everything. Your “gestures should be integrated with your energy,” remarks Frankel. Don’t be afraid to take up space – a behavior that runs counter to what many women have been taught. Frankel suggests “allowing gestures to flow naturally from your spoken message” and to “match your gestures to the size of your audience.”

What professional books have you read lately that you’ve found helpful? Share your recommendations here on BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

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Bio: After graduating from Rider University, where she received a B.A. in English-writing and minor degrees in Gender Studies and French, Deborah joined the BurrellesLuce Marketing team in 2007.  As a marketing specialist she continues to help develop the company’s thought leadership and social media efforts, including the copywriting and editing of day-to-day marketing initiatives and management of the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog. Facebook: BurrellesLuce Twitter: @BurrellesLuce LinkedIn: dgrogers

Visual Storytelling: Who Knew It’s Been Around For More Than a Hundred Years?!

Friday, January 25th, 2013
Flickr Image: josefnovak33

Flickr Image: josefnovak33

Marketers and public relations practitioners have long known that storytelling is critical to any campaign. Storytelling is about relating to people, about making a connection with your audience.  PR has long been a text-based, word-driven method of communicating messages, but it’s no longer enough to simply broadcast these written messages.  “PR historically has been about words—telling. Now it’s show and tell,” says Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman in a recent AdWeek article.

I’ve read copious articles in the past year on the “new trend” of visual storytelling. Articles that point out we are a society of “visual learners.” Visual storytelling classes have recently been added to university course catalogs, professional development and continuing education workshops and webinars are abundant. Infographics have become a popular way to socially share messages in the past couple years. Some say this shift is due to how we consume information and communicate in the digital mobile age. But I say this is a trend that actually began more than a hundred years ago!

Over the holidays, my husband and I watched the History Channel mini-series “Mankind The Story of All of Us” that we had DVR’d. In the final episode, they talk about the Congo rubber trade in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s under King Leopold II’s dictatorship and the brutishness of forced labor. A common occurrence was to physically maim children as a warning to villagers. Enter Alice Harris, a British missionary, and her camera. (I know you were wondering where I was going with this J).

Brian Williams, of NBC Nightly News (and one of the commentators in the series) says, “The invention of photography and the means to get them in front of people held more power than its inventors ever imagined. Photos don’t blink and they don’t go away. Once you’ve seen that image, you can’t rewind.”  Harris took hundreds of photos of the atrocities—photos which were then published in newspapers across the world, shocking millions of readers.  These photographs were so horrific and communicated so broadly that it transformed public opinion and changed society, forcing King Leopold to quit the Congo rubber trade.  I would argue that this was the beginning of visual storytelling—at least in the modern mass media age. (Visual storytelling actually dates back to more than 30,000 years ago with cave paintings.)

In addition, “Once you’ve seen that image, you can’t rewind,” Williams went on to say, “The expression ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ –that’s a low ball estimate. A picture, a good picture, is worth so much more than that.”

This is especially true in today’s digital age. As PR and communications professionals we are increasingly tasked with disseminating messages in a crowded online space. The content we produce must not only gain the attention of audiences – but keep it as well.

Like our ancestors, we must create stories that paint pictures – either via our words or via images – to sway public opinion and, perhaps more importantly, persuades people to respond to our calls to action.

Check out this BurrellesLuce Storytelling newsletter for more helpful tips.

TED Talks: Joe Sabia – The technology of storytelling

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

 

View the original video and transcript here.