The rise of blogging, video and social media platforms has driven a major shift in how stories are told by organizations. For PR professionals, with so many strategies and tactics available, there is no longer the need to rely on the media to share or tell stories.
With new means of storytelling, PR can now use the perfect tool to tell each story and share it directly with their audience. While storytelling has long been the domain of PR, it’s time for PR professionals to take their storytelling skills further by becoming publishers and journalists.
Shifting from PR to Social Storytelling
Large PR agencies have been realigning their services in this model in recent years and this trend towards brand journalism will continue to intensify through 2014.
According to Ragan.com, Coke’s head of digital media and social media recently said that the company plans to “kill” the press release by 2015. For 2014 they will be cutting the number of press releases they do in half in favor of using other storytelling methods including the creation of a newsroom where stories are decided on daily by an editorial team.
The lesson for PR professionals is clear. To stay relevant, they must shift from traditional media relations efforts to social storytelling. Time honored PR tactics such as press releases or pitching the media are now just one of many tools available and can be used along with social media and blogging.
To move towards social storytelling, start by finding and reporting stories from your organization. What are customers doing with your products that is innovative or interesting? What is unique and interesting about the way your organization does business? What can you add to discussions on trends and issues in your market by taking a stand?
Look for stories with human angles that educate, inform or entertain. Instead of talking about the features of your product have a customer share how it has made their life easier and what they really like about your solution.
Like a reporter, instead of waiting for someone to stop by your desk and tell you there’s a story that needs a press release you need to actively seek out stories. The key is to create a rich storytelling culture where the organization actively listens to its customers, monitors its industry and everyone is on the look out for stories.
Social Media as Your Publishing Platform
Consider social media your publishing platform. Once stories are identified and created, you have a wide variety of ways to share them on various channels.
If your organization has social media managers or coordinators, you’ll want to start collaborating with them more closely to identify ways you can take stories that traditionally are the domain of PR and make them social. If your PR team oversees social media, you can redefine how social media is used and approaching it as a place where value-added stories are shared.
Here are two examples of common PR tools and how freshen them up using social storytelling:
There are some occasions where a press release is necessary such as when publicly traded companies must disclose financials or corporate news. Press releases tend to be a default PR tool for companies and in many cases it fails to get the message to the right audience.
Instead of a press release, consider telling the story via social media. If the story is more visual in nature, a short video shared on your web site and across social platforms will be much more engaging. If you are reporting results of a survey, an infographic shared on your blog and then Tweeted and Pinned will help bring it to life. A press release on a new product could be turned into a social media campaign with a blog post plus visuals, video and other content with a goal of sharing this dynamic content across your social media channels.
Sharing customer success stories is a highly effective tool for PR professionals but too often these stories are shared in a press release or via a written case study posted to the company’s web site. Customer stories are pure gold for any organization and are perfect content for social storytelling.
For each customer story, you can create a campaign sharing the customer’s story across social media channels with video of the customer on your YouTube channel, tweeting quotes from the customer, sharing excerpts of their story on Facebook and more. Create infographics or other visual content that tells the story and can drive people back to the full case study for more information.
For all organizations, social media offers PR a highly accessible and effective way to reinvent how they tell stories and not always to rely on the media as a conduit. The end result is greater reach and a focus on more engaging stories that connect with your audience and build trust in your organization.