Once upon a time. Four words every child knows. Four words that open a door to adventure, humor, laughter, joy, suspense, and sometimes even tears.
This past week I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the 2017 PRSA International Conference in the beautiful city of Boston.
Every session I attended, every conversation I had, one message rang true: STORYTELLING, STORYTELLING, STORYTELLING.
This should be nothing new for PR professionals. Storytelling is the most effective way to communicate. Through stories, companies can better connect with their audience by stimulating feelings, ideas, and attitudes.
Morgan Spurlock, best known for his critically acclaimed documentary “Super Size Me,” took the stage as keynote speaker to share how he creates “world-changing content, one story at a time.” Here were the three most important takeaways:
- You have to be willing to take criticism. Not everyone is going to like your idea’s but persevere. With persistence behind your vision, you can succeed.
- Push beyond your comfort zone by becoming uncomfortable. Don’t be afraid of what may or may not happen.
- Now is the best time to be a storyteller. There are more homes for digital content than ever before. Find the right story, not the typical brand story, but the right story and tell that one.
One of the best sessions I attended was presented by Steve Radick. He told the story behind the 84 Lumber Superbowl Ad that made headlines around the nation, yet never once promoted products by the company. Instead, they took on a politically charged debate – immigration.
Rob Schapiro, chief creative officer of 84 Lumber’s ad agency Brunner said: “This is a conversation that’s taking place in homes across America and so 84 Lumber was willing to be part of that conversation, to be relevant and timely … in Part Two [of the ad] you will see what a beacon of light America is, not just within America but beyond to other countries. We are that beacon of light for people for finding success from hard work and making a contribution.”
Within our profession, there needs to be a shift back to our roots. We’ve always been storytellers. We’ve always known how to connect with our audience and build relationships. Next time you are in a brainstorming session, I challenge you to forget the product your company sells. Rather, focus on the audience and what’s most important to them. Anyone can sell a widget. What you want to do is get inside the hearts and minds of your customers.
I’ll leave with my favorite sentiment from the conference:
“Storytelling and marketing are the same things. Now is the best time in history to be a storyteller. You have to decide which stories you want to tell and connect within an honest, transparent, authentic way. Create an alignment of ideologies — you want to sell an idea.” Morgan Spurlock
Thanks for the shout-out here Gina – I’m glad you enjoyed the presentation!
“Storytelling and marketing are the same things. Now is the best time in history to be a storyteller. You have to decide which stories you want to tell and connect within an honest, transparent, authentic way. Create an alignment of ideologies — you want to sell an idea.” I absolutely love this quote. As someone who has transitioned into digital marketing, storytelling is one of the greatest ways of connecting with an audience in an honest, transparent and authentic way. It’s unfortunate that some professionals don’t see it that way and try to sell a product instead of an idea.
I know, that is simply the best quote! I agree with you Brandon. When ROI becomes more important than people, you see more product selling storytelling.