The Importance of Storytelling in Content Marketing and Public Relations
By Sarah Keates, Date published: 2020-10-19
Over 15 years’ in corporate marketing, communications, public relations, and events, I have written countless blogs, articles, press releases, speeches, pitches, and everything in between. Getting to know my clients, their brand, their story, their unique challenges, is exciting. It takes empathy, trust, a solid team, and insight. Writing creative and compelling content for my clients has always brought head-scratching challenges, sleepless nights, and joy in equal measures.
Developing content that makes an impact
Writing can be fun as a standalone task but is quite different from developing a complex content marketing or communications strategy. When entrusted with holding someone’s baby (their brand), you take it seriously; you do not rest until the job is done. This may sound dramatic, but if you or your company has ever faced difficult times, you can be certain that marketing was tasked with fixing “it”, at least to a degree. Whether this was prompted by a fall in sales, a public perception issue, or competitor problems, the task force almost always includes a marketing and communications element.
How marketing can make or break a brand
I recall one of the first times I understood the pivotal difference that storytelling can make to a brand’s survival, success, or failure. Some years ago, a client, a huge multinational giant, hit a major crisis and their public relations strategy took on an entirely different purpose. The time for gentle narrative and leadership interviews came to an abrupt halt and the brief changed entirely to “change their minds; fix this”. A task force was established to push a new story, a carefully crafted narrative. I liken that time to a political campaign – the stakes are high, and the words matter. A clever narrative can cajole, educate, and transform market sentiment. If you have ever voted or shaken your head in disbelief at the outcome of a vote, then you have seen the communications machine in action.
Putting a story around a corporate crisis can change the tide of opinion. Done right, it will drive dialogue that can ultimately, solve perception of the issues, if not the issues themselves. As a communications strategist, it is an incredible honour to be tasked with creating stories: it is powerful. Of course, the job is not always glamorous; in my time I have developed stories for many sexy brands, yes; but also, elevators, semiconductors, and an exam board. The more high-octane, however, does not necessarily equal the better; a good story attracts attention, even those about bleach or exams.
How important is storytelling in the marketing mix?
So, while marketing budgets might be some of the first to be cut in 2020, think about how compelling storytelling can be in your content marketing. Your content is how you attract, engage, and ultimately, secure clients. Your website, blog, social media, and interviews are where you can solve problems for your customers, build trust, and empower them to get to know you and your brand. Make it count.
Sarah Keates is founder of WOI, a creative agency serving clients across Asia, Europe, and the US. Sarah, who is permanently based in Hong Kong, has 18 years’ experience in B2B and consumer marketing, public relations, communications, and events. She has specialist knowledge and experience in the following sectors: business aviation, international education, public affairs, luxury, and wellness.
This article does not constitute legal advice.
The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.