By Haley Dowell, Account Coordinator
In PR, storytelling is the foundation of everything we do. Not only is every story unique, but the methods in which each one is told vary greatly. A creative narrative for one B2B technology company looks completely different from the ideal story for another, although the end goal is the same. For me, successful storytelling means bringing to life our clients’ value propositions through a variety of methods — media pitches, press releases, visuals, blogs, etc.
Some clients consider thought leadership — whether that be through contributed content or interviews — the strongest method of storytelling. Other clients may want their story told via social media, using a more visual and digestible approach. Whatever the case, between a client’s wishes and our recommendations, no two approaches are ever the same.
Now how do we, as PR professionals, decide on which storytelling methods to use? It’s largely due to our perception of each situation, which is influenced by our experiences, mood and the way we organize the information we take in. Perception plays a huge role in how we see the world and most importantly, how we tackle client work. Because of this, perception affects how goals and strategies are developed and the creative steps we take to shape them.
Let’s take a look at a simple, yet revealing exercise.
The Hoffman Agency engages in quarterly bonding activities which we fondly refer to as “HA-ffsites.” I work at our office in Portland, Ore., where we recently participated in a “Wine & Paint Night,” to celebrate our hard work and to get the creative juices flowing.
The experience was different for everyone. The Type A’s needed guidance and reassurance (of course), whereas Type Bs threw caution to the wind and effortlessly put paint to canvas. A couple of people decided to paint the same template, and while one might assume their paintings would turn out identical, that was definitely not the case.
Each person received the same tools, but they ended up with a completely different piece of art. Both paintings are beautiful in their own right, but would you assume they came from the same template? Between each teammate’s innate sense of creativity — and quite possibly the free-flowing wine — their individual perception of the task at hand and artistic appeal guided them toward their eventual unique masterpieces.
Perception is a translation of our distinct experiences, and the way images and stories are interpreted varies dramatically from person to person. The majority of PR professionals work in teams because everyone brings a unique perspective to the table. While an individual may have great ideas, it is only through team collaboration that the most creative and comprehensive concepts come to fruition.
It’s been said before that communicators are artists too — specifically storytellers. When we construct our work, we use words and visuals to draw out emotion from those who view it. Every PR professional is an artist in their own right, and it’s important to note how one person’s way of creating art may differ from the next.
Comparing ourselves to Picasso may be a bit of a stretch, but as I’ve said, it’s all about perspective.