9 steps to telling a great story

5 April 2020  |  Insights
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I was around 12 years old when someone first told me I should work in Public Relations. I had no idea what PR even was back then, but I just loved to tell a great story.

Years later, things haven’t really changed. I think I could write one book just about the car troubles I’ve had over the years! And don’t even get me started on the parenting ones…(!)

All jokes aside, after years of working in communications and PR in the charity sector, I count it an enormous privilege to now be working for a company that equips their clients to tell their story more effectively. This is exactly where I love to be- helping organisations and charities realise that their story is important, and that it needs to be heard.

Stories matter in PR because they allow more of a connection with your audience. We must make sure to build powerful and impactful stories into our PR strategies.

In my most recent roles in the charity sector, I have learnt so much about the power of a great story. So, here are nine lessons I’ve learned in storytelling for Public Relations.

1. Think personal

Use personal stories to strengthen the message you want to get across. What feelings are you trying to evoke? Which individual would best present the key message? Make sure to research for the appropriate story from a client, beneficiary or customer and use it wisely.

2. Think visually

You won’t want to share a story without complimenting it with an image, video or an animation - preferably of the person/people in question. Great quality images of people’s faces can carry a story very well, however short videos are more likely to be viewed and shared compared to image only stories. Sometimes it’s worth spending money on a photographer or videographer to capture those images and videos to go along with the story.

3. Think outside the box

There are more ways to share your story than just a press release. Why not write an article for the newsletter, a blog post, post on social media or on Instagram stories? Communications have never been so expansive, use the channels available to tell your story.

4. Think about your audience

Do your research. Who is it you are trying to reach? What are their likes/dislikes? Always think demographics of readers/listeners. You may need to use different stories for different platforms.

5. Think, is it interesting?

Is the story you are about to share interesting enough? When you are writing the story, and you find yourself getting bored, rest assured you’ve lost your audience already. It doesn’t have to be the longest story to be the most impactful. Short stories carry a lot of weight these days. It’s all about the quality of your content!

6. Be authentic

Is the story true? Is the person you are writing about real? Did you add on a bit to make it more interesting? STOP. You are not writing your latest fictional novel here - you should be telling real stories about real life experiences. Be authentic! Use your customers/clients/donors' real-life stories.

7. Bring structure

Craft the narrative well. Stories always have a beginning, middle and end. Very simple. Keep it that way!

8. Bring the right style

What tone and voice to you want to use? Think where they will be featured. Who are you pitching to? Who is likely to be reading it?

9. Think relationships above profits

My favourite one. Focus on building relationship with your audience. If you get that right, everything else will follow!

Finding the right story is always the hardest part, so make sure to take time to find them. Understand them. And find the gold in them. A great story will almost tell itself.

Written by Laura Nelson, PR Account Manager, Jersey Road PR.

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