Is Storytelling Important to Public Relations?

 

This week for class I was instructed to pick a topic relevant to Public Relations to blog about. Something I have been curious about in public relations is storytelling and the impact that it has on motivating target audiences to buy products and services. So, I decided that I would delve into the evolving role that storytelling plays in the public relations field.

While researching the topic of storytelling and how it relates to public relations, I found that using storytelling to motivate people to pay attention to advertisements and what a product may have to offer, is really a tactic that targets people by using something that is very natural and familiar to them. Storytelling is innate; it’s something humans very frequently encounter, and in many households, it is a routine. Parents tell their children bedtime stories, people of all ages tell each other about their days in story format, and various other exchanges of information between people take the form of storytelling. So, it only makes sense that advertisers and public relations professionals would take advantage of storytelling by using it to convey their messages more effectively. In her article, The Power of Storytelling in PR, Michelle Dziuban explains that storytelling is a necessity to grab the attention of target audiences. Storytelling entertains potential buyers and holds their attention. Dziuban states, “In one way or another, we’re all storytellers and willing consumers of stories. Don’t throw data and numbers in front of your target audience. Use your innate desire to tell stories and their desire for them to take your audience on an experience. If you don’t, someone else will grab the attention of your audience.” (Dziuban 2016).

Another aspect of storytelling that I found interesting during my research on the topic is the scientific basis behind storytelling which in my opinion is a huge motivating factor for why storytelling should be used in public relations. In the article, The Art of Storytelling in PR, the author, Elena explains this scientific basis of why storytelling works in public relations, what makes a story great and how to apply storytelling to your own brand successfully. The author’s explanation of the scientific basis of storytelling is what intrigued me. She explained the profound results of studies conducted on storytelling which told of the connection that the storyteller has with the listener and how the same parts of the brain in each person are being activated. The study also discussed how when a listener is hearing a story, more parts of the brain are being activated then with purely factual data and it makes that listener feel as though they have experienced the story themselves thus helping them to remember better. Elena states,”…storytelling works in PR and marketing, because it allows us to connect with our audiences and take them on a journey — a journey that stimulates the feelings, ideas, and attitudes consistent with our marketing goals.” (Elena 2014)

Finally, while concluding my research I decided to take a look into the evolution of storytelling in public relations. The way public relations has evolved to the use of the internet and social media has prompted storytelling within public relations to develop as well. In order to fit the needs of public relations on the digital playing-field storytelling needs to be implemented on these newer forms of media to engage customers. Public relations practitioners must still find ways to entertain and interact with potential customers on social media regardless of the limits that these platforms may have; for example a character limit on twitter or a time limit of a minute for Instagram videos. In his study, Sánchez discusses storytelling on various channels in media. He states, “The changes that have taken place in the new media environment encourage organi[z]ations to transmit their messages in formats intended for the new media, which are increasingly interactive and audiovisual.” (Sánchez , 2014)

Overall, throughout my research, the importance of storytelling became increasingly obvious. The articles I read all shared various aspects of the common theme: that storytelling is evolving and that it is not only important to gain the attention of target audience, but also to make a more meaningful connection with these audience members and to more effectively convey brand messages.

Dziuban, Michelle. “The power of storytelling in PR.” Cision, 14 Mar. 2016, http://www.cision.com/us/2016/03/the-power-of-storytelling-in-pr/. Accessed 20 Mar. 2017.

Elena. “The Art of Storytelling in PR.” PR in Your Pajamas, 2014, prinyourpajamas.com/the-art-of-storytelling-pr/. Accessed 20 Mar. 2017.Langford, P. (2008). Marketing: The importance of telling the whole story. Journal of Direct, Data and Digital Marketing Practice, 9(4), 383-385. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/dddmp.2008.8

Sánchez, C. C. (2014). Transmedia storytelling, an ally of corporate communication: #Dropped by heineken case study/La narrativa transmedia como aliada de la comunicación corporativa: Estudio del caso #Dropped by heineken. Comunicación y Sociedad, 27(3), 127-150. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/1625907646?accountid=39473

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