Why Storytelling Is Essential to PR

POP QUIZ: Can you name all the planets in our solar system, from closest to farthest from the sun?

If you were able to rattle off Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune (RIP Pluto), in that order, chances are you have a story to thank. If your elementary school teachers were anything like mine, they taught you the handy mnemonic My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas as a way to remember the order of the planets. While lists of names are not easy to recall, stories about eating pizza surely are, which is why so many of us can remember the order of the planets decades later.There is a reason why we've used parables, fairy tales, fables and ballads to teach lessons to one another for centuries: they work. Our brains are hardwired to respond to stories. When we hear a story, we see ourselves in it, and we experience it as if it were happening to us. Rachel Gillett explains this phenomenon at Fast Company:

"When reading straight data, only the language parts of our brains work to decode the meaning. But when we read a story, not only do the language parts of our brains light up, but any other part of the brain that we would use if we were actually experiencing what we're reading about becomes activated as well.

What this means is that it's far easier for us to remember stories than the cold hard facts because our brains make little distinction between an experience we are reading about and one that is actually happening."

So, what does this have to do with PR?

Stories Help Audiences Remember

Like the mnemonic for the planets, stories stick with audiences longer than raw data and statistics will.Impressive numbers will give some shock and awe in the moment, but what audiences will remember more is the story of how your growth last quarter affected the segments you serve. "The best business books and keynote speakers use stories to help us retain to the points when the stats fade from memory," says Shane Snow. Craft your message into a memorable story to keep it fresh in audience's minds.

Audiences Crave Stories

According to this infographic on the Science of Storytelling, 92% of consumers want brands to make ads that feel like a story. Do you remember the Super Bowl commercial with the little boy dressed as Darth Vader trying to use the Force?

A single day after premiering on YouTube, the ad had 15 million views and would go on to become one of the most shared ads of all time. According to James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times, "the [Super Bowl ad] you'll actually want to see again is Volkswagen's, powered by the force of a tiny Darth Vader who tells a simple story, with a little body language and nary a word." Instead of promoting the product, which doesn't even show up until half way through, the video told the story of a family and how they interacted with the product. Tell a good story, and audiences will respond to it - and share it.

Storytelling is Cheap

Entrepreneur asserts that "Storytelling can be used as a marketing strategy by businesses and entities of all sizes because all it requires [is] imagination and creativity, not money." If you can tell a good story, you can resonate with your audiences in an authentic way without needing a big budget. Sure, it probably helps to be able to use the licensed likeness of a character from a beloved movie franchise, but if Pizza Rat taught us anything, it's that all you need is a camera phone and a compelling story to become the next viral video. To quote Shane Snow again:

"Fact is, no one cares about your marketing goals. But everyone likes a good story. The businesses that can tell one (and there are some really good ones right now) will have increasing advantage."

Want to gain an advantage over your competitors? Appeal to your audience and tell them your story.

Having trouble figuring out your company's story? We can help! Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you promote your brand by telling your story.