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Tell us another: Storytelling tops PR campaign skills

Words "Once upon a Time" written with old typewriter on white paper in vintage style

The proof of a great yarn is not in the plot itself, but rather how that plot is delivered to the audience. This is no truer than when it comes to PR, and planning a PR campaign.

That’s not to say it doesn’t matter what you say, but rather to emphasise that how you say ‘it’ is probably more important. Fantastic tales are frequently overlooked as books are, sadly, frequently judged by their covers, and only when a great story meets a fantastic storyteller are the results worthy of best-seller status.

Recent research by Sword and the Script Media and Ned Lundquist’s Job of the Week suggests that we’re not the only people who put a lot of value in presenting narratives.

Conducted in February, the study involved 155 corporate communications and PR professionals, and respondents clearly stated that storytelling will be the most important trend or tactic in the marketing model over the next 12 months.

Storytelling is a fundamental part of any campaign, and must be considered when planning a PR campaign.

The truth of the matter is, though, not everyone was born to retell and convey. The saying used to go that we all have at least one book in us. When it comes to life experiences this is probably true, but few people can actually put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and make their novel happen.

When considering this in the context of a PR campaign clearly it’s easy for pressure to pile up on marketing departments if they don’t have the right skillset to realise ideas and relay brand messages. Ensuring your team is well-equipped, or partnering with an agency that is, therefore becomes of paramount importance.

This goes well-beyond the written word, too. While there’s no denying that a skilled copywriter is a rare thing, in 2018 you need to see storytelling as a cross-channel, inter-disciplinary task that falls on designers, videographers, photographers and strategists just as much as wordsmiths.

top view retro black typewriter with paper header with text space
Only when all these specialists are working together on a coherent plan can we really say that a business is well-positioned to tell tales effectively.


It’s important to realise, though, that despite the significance of storytelling in the eyes of communications professionals, there’s a flip side to the tale.

Lou Hoffman, CEO of The Hoffman Agency, explained back in 2015 how ‘storytelling’ had become overused as a buzzword, and misunderstood as concept.

“Storytelling is hard to do but also not appropriate in a lot of cases,” he’s quoted as saying in a PRWeek article. “As you develop content, you want to make it as interesting as possible even if there is no arc. That’s common sense.”

While this is logical, we would prefer the statement to come with a small addendum. Just because there is no arc between pieces of content doesn’t mean each piece of content should not involve the core aspects of storytelling.

And by that we main made to be engaging, innovative and highly memorable.




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