PR is about telling stories

public relations storytelling / the power of storytelling in PR / the art of storytelling in Public Relations

A good PR practitioner will help you find the stories in your organisation or business worth telling. These are the stories that will resonate with people; inform, interest, entertain and engage them. Sometimes the best stories are right there waiting for you to tell, but you just haven’t noticed.

We worked with a not for profit health provider Wellways Australia in Melbourne recently to promote their activities during Mental Health Week. Mental Health Week is a competitive media space so we had to find stories that would gain the attention of journalists and editors overwhelmed by submissions.

The human angle

People working in the, not for profit sector know only too well that journalists love case studies to demonstrate the human angle of a story. A lot of people who are supported by community organisations have experienced disadvantage and might be vulnerable. For this reason, they don’t want to ask these people to be involved in a media interview which is one reason why serious social issues get ignored or overlooked by the media.

We were able to get widespread and significant media coverage for Wellways during Mental Health Week because people were willing to stand up and tell their stories to news journalists.

Sharing heartfelt stories

Wellways had numerous events planned around Melbourne, in regional Victoria and in towns along the eastern seaboard. Some of the events were low key but had great stories attached to them.

A theatre production in the regional town of Shepparton was organised. The theme was based on sharing stories of hope and recovery in mental health. Ten playwrights, ten producers and thirty performers from the local community were involved.

This event had the makings of a good story for print, radio and television news channels. But the key to getting journalists interested in covering the event was the people who would talk to the media about their personal stories of hope and recovery. Share the heartfelt and very real struggles they endured to overcome stigma and discrimination. The kind of stories that make people sit up and take notice and feel some empathy.

In collaboration with our client, we prepared interviewees to tell their stories with confidence and passion. This achieved widespread coverage in print, radio and TV news. Their theatre show was a sellout and thousands of local community members in the region got the positive messages about hope and recovery.

Cutting through to get your story told

Trying to convince journalists to cover a story without a human angle that will resonate with audiences is a waste of time. Sending out a press release announcing a new initiative without demonstrating how it impacts on a person’s life is not going to cut through.

A good PR agency or practitioner will help prepare an interviewee – whether that person is a CEO or a formerly homeless person – and make sure they are ready for the hard questions a journalist might ask. A good PR practitioner will work through media contacts and select a journalist who will give the story a fair and balanced hearing.

Influence for positive change

It is not unreasonable to be concerned for the wellbeing of people who have been through tough times but it should also be remembered that telling our stories can make us stronger and even lead to positive change.

Human stories are powerful – they change minds and influence public opinion. They are the essential ingredient to a good news story. Never underestimate how important it is to engage with your community and assist people to tell their stories with pride and confidence. It might just be the story that cuts through and makes local communities and policy and decision makers sit up and take notice.


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Want to use PR to increase your profile or strengthen your brand?

We provide PR services led by experienced journalist Tony Nicholls, who has covered international stories and worked for many of Australia’s major news networks. Find out more about our Melbourne PR services.