Oftentimes with clients, the first step in the public relations process is to identify what exactly their “story” is. Everyone has a story. But, for many, just like we as people don’t often like “talking about ourselves,” we also don’t like “talking about our professional selves.” Or, if that’s not the case, maybe we don’t know what our story actually is.
In my ten years of working in the PR industry, I’ve had countless people tell me that the news is fake, or that stories aren’t reality. And just like any profession, there are certainly cases of unethical public relations practices. However, don’t let the word “story” fool you. I’ve learned that in most cases, the story/stories are already there and it’s our job to unearth them.
So how do we do that? Where do you start? How do we know if you even have a story to tell? And if you do, how do we develop it?
While there is no “defined” process to this, here are the tips and tricks I’ve come across in my processes to identify client stories.
- Origin– Your business, idea, process, etc… had to have started somewhere? Let’s start with a date, a year, or a timeline. Write down significant moments throughout the course of your organization and document when they happened. Some of the most interesting stories themselves can be “founder’s stories.”
- Motivation – Ask yourself “why?” Why did you undertake this venture? Was there a void in the market? Did you have an experience that led you to want to start a business? Why did this organization begin? What was your purpose?
- Actions – Go back to your timeline and look at the moments you noted throughout time. Fill in the details between each moment as to how you got from one moment to the next. Go back to question two and ask how you were able to start the organization, how you created your first product/service, and how you gained experience.
- Defining Characteristics – Think through what it is about who you are, what you do, or what your product/service is that makes you different, unique, or stand out from anyone else in the world. If you don’t know the answer off the top of your head, write down a few traits that you or your business do exceptionally well. Research if there are others out there who do what you do, and what you potentially do differently or more effectively.
- Connect the Dots – The final step is connecting all of the scraps of information you’ve mentally noted or written down. You should start to see “your story” coming to light. We’ve developed your back story (the where and when), the motivation for starting an organization (the why), the actions that got you to critical places in time (the how), and the defining characteristics that set you apart (the newsworthiness).
As you can see, identifying your story may be a process, but it isn’t hard. You simply have to commit to digging into these various elements to figure out that you absolutely have a story to tell the world. And once you see what that story is, the next step is learning how to tell it.
Stay tuned for our next blog post: “How to Tell Your Story.”