Good stories just don’t happen. Like an engine, they need multiple components to work together in order to make something happen. The engine in your car doesn’t run on gasoline alone, it takes oil, coolant and a spark to get things started. Just like a story.
Stories need to combine a variety of elements to get the reader from start to finish. Many companies forget this and try to build stories using only one facet of their company – their products. The problem is products are only part of a company’s whole story. Sure, products are often the protagonist in the story, but if that is the only aspect told, then the story is limited.
A better approach is to define a narrative that includes the marketplace, the customer and the company as a whole. Now, companies have an opportunity to articulate how a product benefits the target customer, how it offers something unique or fills a gap in the market, and how it fits in the company’s short and long terms plans to win.
The risk with only telling one line of a story is that it leaves a lot up to the imagination of the reader. Basically, the storyteller is asking the reader to connect all the dots themselves – why the product matters to customers, what are the competitive differentiators and where the company fits in the marketplace. That’s a lot to ask of any reader.
A good PR program should be, in essence, a story telling engine for the company. The market, customers, investors and other interested parties all need to understand where the company is going and how each move it makes fits in the longer, broader narrative. To do this, PR needs to dig deeper into the company’s business and market objectives to understand the story in long form.
A deeper understanding of what is happening in the market is needed so the PR team can maximize how announcements fit into events that are shaping the respective industry. PR must also be willing to take the time to understand the company’s products and appreciate what goes into bringing a specific product to market. Finally, PR needs to understand what is driving customers to look for the products and technologies a company sells, so they can match their company’s narrative to the story a prospect wants to hear.
This takes time and can’t be done on the fly. This idea of creating a story telling engine is fundamental to transforming public relations from passive to active and into a program that creates real, long-term value for a company and not just quick hits that few remember.