I attended a meeting on Monday – a convening of 14 co-grantees of The Colorado Trust all working toward the common goal of improving access to health care for Coloradans. During this convening, we shared strategies and tactics, successes and challenges – and discussed ways we could be more effective in our efforts. One of the biggest themes of the day was the importance of storytelling – and how it can make abstract topics (such as health care) concrete and relevant to your audiences.
Now, it may seem fairly basic, but the conversation served to remind and reinforce for me our role as storytellers in PR. It can be easy to get caught up in statistics, survey results, product features and the like – and those are all important pieces of the puzzle. However, when we can engage our audiences through stories that they can relate to – that is when we really hook them.
Back to my access to care example – people’s eyes have a tendency to glaze over a bit when you start to talk to them about health care and health care policy. Goodness knows it’s a complicated and confusing topic – even for people who are close to it. But when you start to talk about the mom who had to choose between diabetes medication for herself and health insurance for her teenage son – the abstract becomes real, and people can see themselves in the issues.
If you don’t naturally have a story – create one! Not in the sense of making up something that isn’t true – but in the sense of using your creativity to intrigue and emotionally connect with customers. One of my favorite GFM examples is an oldie but a goodie. It stems from a project we did several years ago with client Qdoba Mexican Grill called Q-dentity in which people were asked to take a short, fun personality quiz online to determine what their Mexican food preferences said about their personalities. Rolled out around Valentine’s Day, the campaign also revealed which Mexican food personality types were most compatible with one another. The campaign generated tremendous awareness and engagement for the client, achieving its goals of attracting the attention of new customers while building loyalty within Qdoba’s existing customer base.
My colleague Jon Woods recently blogged about a more recent example of using storytelling to connect with customers – Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches. Infinitely more powerful than simply citing the benefits of using Dove, the Real Beauty Sketches spoke on a deep level to women everywhere – resulting in more than 10 million views in just five days!
The best news is, thanks to social media and content marketing, we have more ways now than ever before to get our stories out there to audiences that matter to our clients. So, whether it’s through traditional media outreach or videos, infographics social media, etc. – true and lasting connections with our audiences are only an engaging story away.