The reason storytelling works in PR and marketing is that it allows us to paint a picture, draw our customer-readers in, and take them on a journey into discovering what our brand is all about. It does this through feelings, sentiments and ideas which the particular story conjures up, and after relating it in a positive way, aligning those feelings and ideas with the company’s marketing goals and brand messaging.

So, how do we create these stories? Do you find yourself sometimes in a storytelling rut? If, like me, you have experienced this form of writer’s block, there are a few storytelling basics, from a general writer’s perspective that you can always go back to and incorporate.

1) Identify your target audience in order to establish a viewpoint

If you don’t know who you’re trying to engage, it’s a lot harder to tell the right story.

2) Use Basic Storytelling Structure

Your story needs 3 things:

1. Plot
2. A Hero or heroine
3. A Satisfying ending

Once you have established these key elements, you can start to enhance your story with descriptive copy and visually rich content.  As a general rule, the more you can make use of graphics and multimedia, the more your reader will remain engaged. Context, structure, meaning and inspiration are other features that readers – whether they know it or not – look for in a story.

No matter what the story, make sure that its attitudes, feelings and ideals of the characters in the story are in alignment with your company’s overall brand.

3) Listen to Seth Godin

Any marketer who’s sold as many books as Seth Godin is worth a listen.  Here’s what he says great stories are made of:

  1. They resonate with the audience: they are relevant and relatable.
  2. They are authentic: they are consistent and true to us.
  3. They make a promise to engage us: we can expect to be inspired, entertained, educated or merely distracted.
  4. They are sensuous: they appeal to all our senses.  We can almost smell, hear and/or feel what the characters are doing or where the story is taking us.

So, what are some examples of those who are doing this right?  Here are some examples from:

Cadbury: Dairy Milk with Ritz or Lu ‘Moments of Joy’ campaign
IKEA: 2015 Catalogue launch: “the bookbook”
Coca-Cola: Global Sustainability ‘2nd Lives’ campaign

Think of a campaign you have implemented in the past that relied heavily on storytelling. If willing to share, please do so in the Comments.  Read here, to see why storytelling is more important than ever for your content strategy.