Teaching Through Storytelling
By Alexis Stark
As a writer, you tell stories. As a journalist, it is your job and responsibility to tell stories.
Before meeting Melanie Deziel, founder of StoryFuel, an international keynote speaker, and a lifelong storyteller, I saw my previous career in journalism as worlds apart from my job in public relations. Neither more important than the other, just different. After listening to Melanie’s presentation on “Effective Brand Storytelling,” the three careers collided, and I finally saw them coexisting in the same world of storytelling. She blew my mind.
I gained a new perspective on the world of public relations, after writing for print and digital publications. Writing should always tell a story; words are too precious to waste. A good story is impactful and evokes some degree of emotion from your reader, no matter the outlet. For every client, brand, or individual story, the writer is presented with the opportunity, to tell the TRUTH. (A lovely acronym created by Melanie Deziel)
T – Teach
Writing for social media, print, or blogs, allows the author to make a statement and encourage people to keep reading. If people think your content is smart and compelling, they’ll follow it. This is a win-win situation for you and your client because your client’s story gets told and their audience desires more. A client’s content should educate their audience about something, whether it be their mission, values, or business. Educational content can be short or long, depending on the audience. Quick posts are informative and instant, while evergreen content has the potential to remain on a client’s website or social media for a long time and resurface when an opportunity for relevancy comes around. Regardless of the client, writing their content presents endless opportunities to teach and tell stories.
R – Reputable
A common and crucial thread running between journalism and public relations is credibility. Trust between a writer and the audience takes time to build and seconds to destroy,especially in a lightning-fast age of digital media. When representing a client through your writing, your words need to build a repour with your audience. Research is essential, as is using trustworthy, validated, and inclusive information. Your client is trusting you to tell their stories, and it becomes your responsibility to be honest and an authentic representation of your client’s voice.
U – Unique
In journalism, you go where the story is, but sometimes you have the freedom to be a bit more selective with your content. In public relations, it is your job to value each client equally and individually, like a parent who cannot possibly choose a favorite child. You want each client’s content to be successful, so you need to find wants to make it stand out from the crowd of digital content. Bring the story of the client to life in diverse ways; use different voices, share new journeys, take one piece of information and write all about it. Consider who or what you’re writing about and figure out what you can do to make the story sparkle. If your audience cannot see themselves in your stories, they think it’s not for them.A writer becomes a storyteller when they can create content that speaks to diverse populations and gauge the best response from the client’s audience.
T – Tension
Ah, the age-old question of any book, essay, news article, and blog post ever written: who cares? Why does what you’re writing matter? Why should your audience want to read it? For most writers, myself included, we don’t always have the answer. Writers, like artists, often feel their writing is trash, and no one should ever read it. This excuse may work on your autobiography or next-great-American-novel, but for a client’s content, it is your job to make people care. Acknowledge multiple perspectives and appeal to different personalities, and you will engage a wider scope of people in your content. Aside from sharing your client’s message, find ways to connect the content to human success stories, shared achievements, or the community. Make your reader fear missing out if they don’t read your content.
H – Humanity
People relate to people. No matter the client, words have the power to band together and start fires. Every piece of content you put out has the potential to impact a reader in unexpected, yet predictable ways. As the storyteller, you control the narrative and utilize your humanness (unless you are a robot) to create content with the desired impact. Feature faces in your content and give readers the chance to see themselves or aspects of their identity reflected in your words. Start conversations, celebrate humanity, and give your readers no excuse to scroll past your content without reading or clicking.