From Words to Stories

A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way. – Flannery O’Connor

In public relations, we discuss the power of words: every piece of writing for PR has a purpose, is part of a broader strategy intended to achieve a goal. Even so, some people are quick to dismiss the impact of a well-written news release or carefully worded Tweet. Yet spend just a little time online and you can prove these assumptions wrong. (This NPR story on cities pitching to Amazon to house their second headquarters, for example.)

Now that we are halfway through the semester in our Writing for Public Relations course, I hope you see more clearly the strategy and intent behind writing multiple pitches and releases. Why I challenge you to focus on improving the power of your words and centering on the primary goal of each piece. Why structure and organization matter.

But understanding the format and purpose is only the beginning. This week we will dive into how you can elevate your creativity within writing for public relations; how each piece is part of a larger story you are telling on behalf of a brand or organization. And I’m not using the term “story” lightly here.

Why do you think “story” is a word often used in marketing and public relations? Why are brands focusing on storytelling through content in all its various forms? I’m not just referring to video storytelling. Take a look at the cities pitching to Amazon example again. How are they using their stories to woo Amazon? What stories—from brands, organizations, nonprofits, individuals—are capturing your attention today and why? Share some of your thoughts below in preparation for our discussion on this topic on Wednesday!


Data-Driven Pitches?

We’ve talked about the importance of understanding who you’re pitching to and why when it comes to sending news releases. For years, public relations professionals have continued to try and identify the best way to pitch reporters. It’s an ongoing challenge, especially considering what works for one may not work for another. One thing everyone agrees on—pitches should be targeted. Personalization matters. No one likes spam.

One PR firm decided to take a new approach—using technology to improve how they pitched journalists. Take a look at this story from NiemanLab about how Upbeat PR is reworking the PR pitch. What do you think? How might this approach help? Any downsides? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.