Public relations is a profession, craft, or job category—take your pick—based on applying factual information and opinion to persuade people toward a particular perspective.

Whether you're attempting to position a company or product as a category leader, gain permission from a community to make changes, or push a law through the legislature, PR needs to tell interesting yet believable stories that make the target audience consider a new perspective or see the sponsor in a new light.

If your stories aren't understandable, interesting, provocative, or supportable (read accurate and believable), then your publicity effort probably hasn't got wheels.

It's all about the story!

It's pretty amazing that this basic idea is missed by so many business managers, marketers, and promoters. The essence of storytelling is newness or newsworthiness. Look at the following hints for potential news value:

  • Effect: how many people were, or are, affected—or will be?
  • Timeliness: did the event occur very recently?
  • Revelation: is there significant new information, previously unknown?
  • Proximity: was the event nearby geographically?
  • Oddity: was the event highly unusual?
  • Entertainment: does it make for a fun story?
  • Celebrity: was anyone famous involved?

Another way of thinking about the storytelling challenge, particularly in the commercial world, is bringing "what's different" into your story.

Marketing gurus Jack Trout and Al Ries have long explained the need for differentiation and it's never truer than when you begin a PR campaign.

In spite of the immense overuse of the word "positioning," few truly understand what is involved in achieving perceptual separation in the minds of the market. Read any of their books, such as Positioning, The Battle for Your Mind, Trout on Strategy, or The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR, or many others, so you can incorporate clear, simple thinking and strategic direction into your campaign planning.

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image of Ford Kanzler

Ford Kanzler is principal at Marketing/PR Savvy, a public relations and communications firm.

LinkedIn: Ford Kanzler