Why storytelling is crucial for authentic communication

Why storytelling is crucial for authentic communication

You’ll often hear that public relations is an industry built on relationships.

This is true, and one of many elements that goes hand in hand with healthy relationships is authenticity. The word authenticity itself can bring to mind half-baked attempts to be genuine with audiences, without actually cracking the veneer of curated social media posts (#blessed) and glossy corporate stories sans reference to typical 80-hour workweeks required of employees.

Because of this, consumers are left feeling dubious and duped.

Instead of connecting to the brand or business, they are left wondering if what they’re observing is real—and oftentimes it’s not.

People want passion, struggle and the behind-the-scenes view—that’s what makes content relatable. Storytelling in public relations provides the perfect example of the importance of authentic communication. A story is one of the most common ways humans connect, hence its popularity among PR pros.

The elements of a story are important: the hero and his/her obstacle and solution are essential to drawing the reader in. However, who tells the story and how they tell it are instrumental in consumers’ perception and connection with the storyteller.

Who’s telling the story?

The storyteller is the one responsible for how the story is perceived. If there is misalignment between the storyteller’s voice or personality and the story they’re sharing, it’s glaringly obvious to listeners.

Public relations is ever evolving, and one rising trend is the use of influencers as storytellers. Influencers and those who are highly visible on social platforms often have a distinct voice and personalized connection with their followers, which makes them optimal story-sharers.

However, scripted and impersonal language can derail an influencer’s ability to connect with their followers. Consumers are smart enough to recognize what is forced and what is real. No one is going to believe an NFL player talking about ballet shoes. Giving influencers an opportunity to use their unique perspective to relay their message fosters a sense of trust with their audience.

How are they telling it?

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the happy ending or the end result of the story. However, an element that is equally as important in storytelling is the “struggle” aspect that resides between the problem and the solution.

The best stories include struggle and failure because it’s a reality experienced by their listeners. This is what’s real and real is what matters! A solution or happy ending is always sweeter when the hard work behind it is recognized.

This kind of storytelling can be utilized well on social media. Curated, poised posts are the norm, but no one is perfect all the time. Show some of the behind-the-scenes work or give a nod to the challenges that have been overcome.

This quote from a MarketingLand article sums it up perfectly, “The world is hungry for more truth, realness and transparency. Social media platforms are enabling our consumers to express their authentic selves — and they expect the same from the brands they choose.”

As PR pros, crafting great stories is our job. Don’t forget to consider who is telling it and how they’re doing so. It’s these sometimes intangible things that make the difference between authentic and inauthentic content.

Savanna Atherton is a PR Associate for A.wordsmith in Portland, OR.

Photo via Pixabay

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