Stories transform dull tips into sparkling information and nuggets of advice. They turn uninspiring lessons into engaging adventures. Essentially they are emotional.
Want to test this? Choose a word like ‘ghost’ and ask a group of people to share what that word means to them. You’ll be surprised what happens.
Storytelling connects people and builds trust in a person and in their business, charity or organisation. Connection and trust are intangible, felt experiences, yet they have a tangible impact. They lead to confident decision making, action, and ultimately sales.
I find, business owners tend to fall into three camps:
- I’ve got loads of stories to tell….(possibly)
- I’ve got no stories to tell….(not true)
- The worst possible scenario is the person who believes their story is great…and demands that others think so too and we all know it’s not.
Storytelling in business is now a crucial tool. So, what do we talk about to inspire others? What do we not talk about that will bore our audience to tears?
One basic rule of thumb, people are nosey, they like to know what’s happening in their areas of interest eg. home, community, hobby, politics, religion, professional sector. However people are also reading stories which speak to them. It’s all about them and not about us.
What’s not a story:
Think about how many messages are communicated to us on a daily basis; whether it be through newspapers, mail, emails, social media, face to face or the TV, we are bombarded by information and we only have a certain capacity before we get distracted or overwhelmed.
We need to make sure when we are talking to our audience that we are engaging them, inspiring them and giving them content they want to hear – where possible we’ll marry that to the message we want to get across.
The problem is, online content is difficult to write. Stories become lost in translation and the human interest behind our brands often falls through the cracks.
Here are some examples of what a story is not:
- A new website or a slight change of logo colour – interesting to you, boring for everyone else.
- An introduction of a slightly new service which is very close to other services on offer – interesting to you, boring for everyone else.
- A story about your expertise or experience – just after you’ve seen another story in the media featuring someone with similar expertise or experience; the ‘they’ve written about her and they should now write about me syndrome’. Journalists don’t write the same stories one after another.
Imagine someone gearing up excitement around something that is lifeless, not personal and worst of all – boring and irrelevant.
What is a story?
A story is a narrative that says: Listen, I have something of value to communicate to you that you might be interested in and has relevance to you.
Storytelling, by its primal essence, is generous, inclusive, and sincere. It has passed knowledge and experience down through the ages and it’s not a series of lectures, encyclopaedic conversations or intellectual tomes.
A great story doesn’t sell. Instead, it shows customers why they should do business with you and not your competitors.
Of course, it depends who you are sending the story to. For local media (which is the most important for most businesses) these are some examples of stories that will captivate your audience:
- Something which involves good news for local people e.g. a new apprentice.
- You’ve moved premises to a bigger and brighter building – positive good news story.
- You’ve raised money for charity or a member of your staff has.
- You’ve campaigned for something successfully or you’ve launched a campaign.
- You have a credible and relevant view on something which is happening anyway e.g. an accountant sharing their views on the Budget.
Notice how most of these stories revolve around people, or something you’ve done to support your community. Very few stories should be around your products or services, because that’s advertising.
Contrary to popular belief, brand storytelling is not about your business. It’s about your customers and the value that they get when engaging with your product or service. The most powerful brand stories are the ones that prioritise your audiences (customers, staff, suppliers, clients, strategic partners) as the stars. Think of your business as a supporting character.
If you want media coverage you need to be more than your business, more than just a product or service. You have to be a connected and confident human being!
If you need a helping hand to find and tell your stories, my online course, the Online PR Toolbox, has everything you need. The first module is free, try it out here — https://courses.fionascottmediaconsultancy.co.uk/available-courses/