Practical Tips for PR Professionals: Storytelling








October 2011

Facebook re-designs and the advent of Google+ are creating super-charged environments in which to disseminate and consume content online.

These 5 tips can help PR and communications professionals ramp-up their storytelling to produce content that gains and keeps the attention of their audiences in a noisy online space.

1. Target your story through the proper channels. Question issues of privacy, security, content ownership, and the impact digital platforms have on the community, as well as the future of the media as a whole. "The line between ’journalism organization’ and ’technology company’ has never been thinner. And that may be because we aren’t asking the right questions," writes David Skok, 2012 Nieman Fellow and managing editor of, in this article on Why We need to Separate Our Stories From Our Storytelling Tools.

2. Leverage user experience. Sometimes brands and organizations may not have a story that lends itself easily to entertainment or intrigue. Research and data can help confirm the story and demonstrate credibility.

3. Build upon sound bites. This may seem like a no brainer for PR and marketing teams creating campaigns and initiatives. For the spokespeople representing your company, client, or brand — storytelling may not be top of mind, even if they are focused on delivering key messages. So, help them brush up on their stories and anecdotes. Learn 10 ways to help your sound bites make a positive impression.

4. Engage the senses. Memory is tied to the senses and by engaging the senses you are helping to not only ensure reception and retention of your messages, but also that your audience takes action. As sensory marketers know, people buy on emotion and justify on fact. Early this year, Caribou Coffee created bus shelters that look like ovens to promote their hot breakfast sandwiches to "chilly Minneapolis commuters [who] will appreciate the warmth," confirms Emiel Spaans on the AmsterBrand blog.

5. Be relevant. Stay true to your audience and your culture. What storytelling devices are you using and how are you measuring the success of these initiatives? Are there techniques resonating in one type of campaign that you can incorporate in another to help your audience connect with your products or clients? What other unique stories can you tell to boost engagement?

BottomLine: As a communications professional, every piece you write (whether a blog post, news release, or tweet) is a part of a much larger story and is integral to how your company, brand, or client is perceived in the market place. By incorporating the qualities of a good story — challenge, resolution, and a call-to-action — you can create a compelling narrative that is not only consumer-centered but also engaging, instructive, relevant and focused.

Join Johna Burke, senior vice president, BurrellesLuce, at the 2011 PRSA International Conference October 15 — 18, in Orlando, where she will lead a workshop on ROI and Storytelling in the Digital Age.

About BurrellesLuce

BurrellesLuce is the U.S. leader in media monitoring. Professionals in a wide range of industries rely on our comprehensive curated content from local and national print, online, broadcast, and social media sources. BurrellesLuce has a turnkey copyright compliance program that allows us to provide copyright-compliant, behind-the-paywall content not available to other services. BurrellesLuce combines grade-A content with easy-to-use software, allowing users to evaluate and analyze their media coverage and PR efforts. It's all integrated into our user-friendly interface, BurrellesLuce WorkFlow™.

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