How Storytelling Is (Or Should Be) the Centerpiece of PR

Guest Post by Rachel DiCaro Metscher

What a special delight to present today’s guest blog post. The guest blogger, Rachel DiCaro Metscher (pictured), was my student at least a dozen years ago. After we recently reconnected on Facebook, I saw an interview with her (embedded below) in which she talked about how much she loves being a storyteller in her role as a public-relations practitioner. I asked her if she’d like to elaborate on that idea in a guest post, and Rachel quickly agreed. I’m thrilled to present her post.

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When someone asks me what I do for a living, I naturally respond with “I am in PR.” The next question for some folks is “what is that?” My next statement always gets a “wow or “really?” I general respond with ” I am a corporate storyteller.”

Now, I realize that most PR professionals do not characterize themselves as storytellers, but I do. And the reason is simple: Storytelling is PR; it essentially boils down to connecting organization and people through a story. The story, in of itself provides the necessary details for people to learn how our solutions can help them achieve success. It helps build trust with the reader and helps me humanize our brand.

As any writer knows, stories grow richer through the character voices that tell it. The same is true in PR — multiple perspectives make a brand story more genuine and believable. And think about, it is in our human nature to share and respond to great stories.

As the storyteller, I narrate the evolving tale of our brand through the voices of our clients. It’s my job to ask the right questions of our clients so I can weave their stories into ours. So much of who/what our brand is depends on our clients’ successes. The best stories are sometimes not our own, but are ours to share. As the narrator, providing our clients’ stories helps me provide an authentic voice to a global brand that reached beyond technology and provides direct impact on education.

Still not clear? Let me provide some examples. I work for an education solutions company that services both K-12 and higher-education markets (what we call the P-20 story). In this vast market, there are several hundred providers that offer similar or the exact services that we do. I never try to get into the weeds of what software is better. I change the conversation from product to the client. I focus on how can we highlight our clients’ successes so they can share how they use our solutions?

It is much more compelling to have clients talk about our solutions than it is for me to convince the editor or reporter of this. I tell the story how client X uses the solution, not what feature they use, but what are the benefits they’ve seen. No marketing language here. How have they been able to accomplish their goals? By putting this in terms of the client, it changes the conversation from being about my company but highlighting the success of the client through the use of our solutions. Much more convincing as they can share the pain points from the trenches of their school or university. By helping our clients share their story, I am able to tell our story better of student success through our clients’ successes. Proof is in the pudding.

Rachel DiCaro Metscher works in Corporate Communications at Hobsons US.