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Mastering Effective Storytelling in Public Relations

Published on May 7, 2024 at 2:05 p.m.
by Halston Seton.

As storytelling becomes a leading public relations strategy, it is important to remember how to tell a story most effectively. A common misconception about storytelling is that it involves a long conversation with one person listening while the other talks for minutes on end. This is false. Drew Gerber, CEO at Wasabi Publicity, explained, “It’s not merely about sharing what you want to share; it’s about finding that common connection.”

Photo by Andrey via Adobe Stock

Storytelling is the most efficient way to foster a genuine connection with your audience. Here are some tips to help bring your brand’s story to life.

Identify the emotional hook

Before developing a story, you have to find what emotions you want to evoke in the target, such as love, grief, anger, joy or fear. Emotions lead our brains to go into fight or flight mode, and when this happens, your target will either feel inclined to buy your product or run the other way. So, make sure you evoke the right emotions throughout the entirety of the story plot.

Find your narrative

The most significant part of reaching your target audience is understanding how your brand’s values line up with theirs. It is always important to have a brand’s mission and values in writing so that the brand’s storytellers are on the same page.

Ask yourself, “What does my brand want to achieve and how can we make that happen?”

Apple’s “Your Verse” campaign is a perfect example of how to tap into the similarities of an audience while ensuring each individual feels their uniqueness is heard. This campaign exhibited real-life stories containing people of various professions such as professors, scientists and musicians using Apple products in their own special ways. Each commercial showed how Apple products can help any individual achieve their dreams no matter their background. The brand conveyed this key message by showcasing how Apple products are used through maps, capturing photos and videos, connecting with friends, posting through social media and more. This campaign left the viewer feeling inspired from the person on the screen, inclining them to not only purchase Apple products but also to pursue their passions.

Create the ideal persona

The main character of your story should be your brand’s ideal persona. When creating your main character, you have to imagine their everyday routine, from when they open their eyes in the morning to when they close them at night. Mapping out every step of your ideal persona’s daily routine — and going into detail about products they use — can be helpful when developing this character. That way, your brand has a clear picture of its target audience.

To find your audience insight, ask yourself, “What is it that my target audience needs that they don’t even know they need?” Uncovering this insight not only gives you a competitive advantage with your audience but also creates more effective storytelling. It is how you are going to create a meaningful connection with your audience and show that your brand is better than your competitors.

Photo by Andrey via Adobe Stock

Find your hero

Connecting the brand’s values with an ideal persona creates a character that your target audience will immediately relate to. Once you have your character, you can create the plot. Every plot needs a hero. Your hero can either be your product or someone from your target audience. This hero needs to exemplify the target audience insight that you previously discovered — they hold the secret that your audience wants in on.

Include conflict and resolution

The central issue in the story presents the problem that your brand has the potential to resolve. “To really connect, mentally get into your customer’s shoes and describe the problem in vivid detail so they recognize it clearly and feel like you’re speaking directly to them,” Gina Nowicki, a marketing communication specialist, advised in a 2023 Prowly article. Your audience will relate to this conflict immediately, intensifying emotion toward your brand.

All of a sudden the character’s problem is solved solely because of your product. When the resolution takes place, the audience feels relief. The product shows how it can make a positive difference in the consumer’s life — making it easier, more convenient or more satisfying. The resolution is how your story ends, so make it memorable because it will determine if the viewer will purchase your product.

Don’t forget to not only tell your audience your story but also show them. Everyone loves visuals, so use that to your advantage! Telling a story is one thing, but feeling a story’s power comes from visual aids. Apple’s “Your Verse” campaign displayed beautiful travel destinations, making the viewer not only want to be like the person on the screen but needing to be like the person on the screen.

Use these tips when creating your next storytelling campaign!

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