PR expert Angela Betancourt reminded me recently about the power of storytelling in marketing.
Angela explained that every person, every brand, and every company has a story.
Your personal story is what makes you who you are and what differentiates you from everyone else. The same is true for your business, brand or service.
One of the most effective PR strategies is the act of discovering this story and using it to create your message and share it with your target audience.
Since the start of human civilization, storytelling has been a vehicle by which we can share information and connect with others.
In 2012, Angela worked with a very talented chef at a restaurant who had just acquired the title of Executive Chef.
Since this was a new chapter in his life, he wanted to establish an identity for himself that would separate him from his competition.
In her first couple of meetings Angela asked him a lot of questions about his life and career. What she learned was that he had a very colorful background. Prior to attending culinary school, he was a classical dancer, a comedian, and a Marine. These different past lives were a part of who he had become; they were all a part of the story that led him to become a chef.
His unique story and passion for cooking were the two things Angela focused on the most when executing his PR campaign.
He spoke openly and engagingly about his career during interviews and he ultimately made it on the cover of the lifestyle section of a major Miami publication. Within the four month campaign, Angela was able to secure coverage on two local news stations, dozens of other local and national publications. People were interested in knowing more about his reinventions.
The campaign result: half a million dollars' worth of press coverage, increased social media presence, and a coveted spot in the Grand Tasting Village at the Food Network's South Beach Food and Wine Festival.
His unique perspective on the culinary world is influenced by his story. This is what made him different than other chefs. Telling his story about his career transformation and his love of food was one of the main factors behind the media relations success.
Over the years Angela has spoken to many people who underestimated the power of their own story. She speaks to many people who believed that they didn't have a story at all; that somehow their business idea just presented itself one day or that they fell into a particular industry by accident. But after speaking with them for a while and asking them a few questions, she always discovers that they indeed had an impressive and impactful story.
Telling your story is about sharing your experience and thus making it easier for others to connect with you. It's about being genuine and requires some vulnerability and openness. It's about "keeping things real" and human.
A company that wants its customers to know that it cares about them shouldn't do so with just facts and statistics alone.
That company should share a story of how it recently helped a customer, how it made a difference in a community, or how it went out of its way to accommodate someone.
That kind of story will communicate caring more than a percentage or figure.
So what is your story?
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get started:
What is quirky about me that I don't always share with others?
What was the hardest thing about starting this business? (Challenges are great teachers)
What events in my life lead me to this business?
What are unique things about the people that work here?
What is one thing people might not know about us?
Discovering your story and sharing it with your target audience is a powerful marketing strategy.
'Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today' - Robert McKee
What is an interesting story about you and your business that might be worth sharing?