Storytelling in Public Relations

At the core of human engagement is the simple concept of storytelling.

At the core of human engagement is the simple concept of storytelling. Without knowing the breakdown of every element needed, we all know the difference between a good story and a bad one. Whether it be a movie, book, article or a quick weekend recap from your co-worker, stories constantly capture our attention. The question is, how do you ensure that your story is worth telling?

In advertising, we encounter this question on a daily basis–heck, on an hourly basis. It is our job to tell a story on behalf of a brand for every print ad, TV commercial or billboard we create. In a business setting, storytelling is how we use content to connect to consumers in a way that is both relevant and compelling. The idea of storytelling is especially vital for public relations professionals.

At the surface, the job of every PR professional is to explain why a client’s audience should care about what it is the client is doing. The goal behind any story is to give people a reason to establish a genuine connection with a brand. Now the tough part: how exactly do we do this?

There’s No “One Size Fits All”

In advertising, you’ll often see the same ad pop up on different channels. You might see an ad while scrolling through Facebook and then see it later while playing solitaire on your phone. However, from a PR standpoint, stories are much harder to disseminate. PR professionals are tasked with spreading brand messages in a more traditional sense. The hardest part? They often have to craft the same exact story in a variety of ways to appeal to different audiences.

ANDERSON Director of Public Relations knows this all too well. “The way that I would tell a story to a writer at a business journal would be different than how I would pitch the story to a community writer at a local newspaper. They have different readers,” Shelby explains. A writer at a business journal will be more interested in a story that contains hard-hitting facts and figures. This differs from a local newspaper, which will most likely focus on the more human elements of the same story.

As Shelby indicated, PR professionals have to find a way to talk to different demographics in different ways. And must do so in a way that will make people care about these stories. It’s never going to be a “one size fits all” effort.

Measuring A Story’s Success

It can be difficult to measure the performance of PR stories. While digital mediums allow us to track analytics such as page views, clicks, etc. We have no way of truly knowing how many eyes are on a newspaper article, see a news segment on TV or hear a story through a friend. Despite this difficulty, there are some metrics we can use to measure the success of storytelling in PR:

  • Some stories have seemingly simple metrics we can track. If a story is related to a brand’s event, the brand can track event attendance. However, this can become complicated when there are numerous ways to track ROI of events. Depending on how you measure an event’s success, PR may or may not be attributed to event success.
  • Other times, we can try to track a business’s KPI’s in correlation with PR stories. Let’s say you have a fitness studio as a client and are pitching how they’re taking a new approach to the boutique fitness world. You could use the KPI of how many new clients joined the studio during the time of the PR coverage to potentially indicate the success of a story.
  • Social media is also a great tool for tracking impact. We can track social chatter to see how users are reacting to brand stories. When people feel a connection with stories regarding a brand, they will often react to/share/comment on these stories through social channels.
  • At the end of the day, success comes down to sales. Purchases have often been identified as emotionally driven. It may not be our emotions that generate the need for a purchase, but emotions can be the determining factor of why we choose to buy from one brand versus their competitor. When we can tie in those emotional connections in our stories, we help provide motivation to purchase from our client’s brand.

Storytelling in Action

Here at ANDERSON, we love being able to tell our clients’ stories through our public relations team. One of the best stories that we’ve been able to tell this year comes from our client, Desert Financial Credit Union. Back in January, Desert Financial committed that to donating $7 million to the community in cash, scholarships and giveaways over the course of 2018. Our client has made our job easy when it comes to telling the stories about their commitment to their Valley community to help those in need.

This ongoing story is special because the acts of service are not just coming from the corporate level. Desert Financial’s “Random Acts of Kindness” campaign allows employees of credit union to personally nominate members of their community who need and deserve help. It allows the front-line employees, to help their community in a meaningful way. “The employees know members on a personal level and it adds an additional level of depth to the campaign,” says Tuttle. “We have received amazing feedback and support from the community with every Act of Kindness that receives coverage.”

Want to learn about how the ANDERSON public relations team can help you tell the story of your brand? Let’s get to know each other! Connect with us via email at or check out our website to learn more about our wide scope of services.