April 27 is Tell a Story Day in the U.S., a day that encourages people of all ages to share stories – about their life experiences and family lore, true stories and those that are make-believe, but inspire and cause our imaginations to run wild. While no two stories are the same, the best stories are united by commonalities – they make you feel, think or do something. And better yet, they leave an impression and stick with you.

For PR professionals, brand storytelling is critical for building understanding and establishing a lasting relationship with target audiences, both consumers and stakeholders alike. For storytelling to be truly effective – meaning it drives an intended action or behavior – your content must meet certain criteria.  

Stick to these four best practices to develop powerful content that hits the mark:

  1. Evoke emotion: Emotion is a cornerstone of successful storytelling. To captivate and engage your audience, you must appeal to humankind’s emotional nature. Emotion – whether it be sadness, fear, joy or happiness – naturally prompts us to care and eventually act. Without fail, Google’s commercials have me in tears. Most recently, the ad for Google Meet’s live captioning feature gave me a greater appreciation for the technology that unites us all during these trying times. Without emotion, your narrative can fall flat – make it the foundation of your storytelling to encourage connection and relatability.
  2. Convey credibility: Next, think through what makes you, or the brand you represent, uniquely qualified to speak to the topic at hand. Ask yourself why the target should believe what’s being said. Look to establish cachet early on to draw the reader or viewer in and maintain interest. If you’ve watched a TED Talk recently, you’ve witnessed a masterclass in conveying credibility. The speakers avoid rattling off credentials and awards in a robotic manner, and instead strategically weave in experience, associations and unique examples that point to their expertise and leadership. To further boost credibility and strengthen your argument, sprinkle in facts, figures and data.
  3. Root the story in relevancy: What’s going on in the current news cycle that relates to your story? Is there an upcoming holiday or observance that ties to your topic? A related bill making its way through the legislature? Or perhaps there’s a major pop culture moment or controversy. Part of what made the Google Meet ad such a hit was timing – it was released leading up to the Academy Awards, for which the film “CODA” about a child of deaf adults was nominated (and subsequently won Best Picture). At Linhart PR, we make it a practice to attach campaigns to newsworthy moments in time whenever possible, like leveraging National Zucchini Day to promote the launch of a restaurant brand’s newest menu item, Zoodles. Adding an element of timeliness gives the audience another reason to care – and to care now. Plus, it will help you land media coverage if that’s the ultimate goal.
  4. Anchor with authenticity: Whenever possible, draw on personal anecdotes and perspective to further establish human connection and a level of trustworthiness. Impactful storytelling is genuine, vulnerable, and at times, imperfect. Revealing your flaws, shortcomings and tough lessons learned along the way will make your story resonate on a deeper level. This is exactly what we did in crafting a media-worthy story around Kiah Twisselman, a young, female cattle rancher who lost 120 pounds in a single year – in part by eating protein-rich beef – ultimately leading to a segment on The Kelly Clarkson Show and a profile piece in People Magazine.

The next time you’re crafting an op-ed, award entry, keynote speech or social content, try this winning formula to make a larger splash. Or, if you’re looking for support in telling differentiating brand stories that drive your audience to action, please contact me at lpinkerton@linhartpr.com. It’s what we do at Linhart PR every day!