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PR is About Telling a Good Story Well [FutureComms16 Highlights]

Blog post   •   Jun 17, 2016 15:17 BST

By Christopher Van Mossevelde

FutureComms16 ended with Levi Roots jamming away on his guitar: “Reggae Reggae Sauce...I named it twice cause it sounds so nice.” We were captivated, listening attentively in the BAFTA theatre.

Levi Roots.jpg

Levi told us about a life-changing experience, pitching his business idea to the jury of Dragon’s Den. He wasn’t selling just a sauce; he was asking the jury to invest in him, his passion for cooking and being an artist. Levi told an excellent story, and to top it off, was extremely genuine and likeable.

And that is what FutureComms16 embodied. Let me explain....

The overarching theme, which seemed to resonate, was that communication is all about telling a good story well. All of us in the profession are simply storytellers, or should strive to be – that is one timeless factor.

Storytelling is part of our DNA and has been since the cognitive revolution. Human beings are primarily emotional creatures and then rational thinkers. Passion is what drives us. Even if our narratives are fictional, we strive to find meaning in the absurd, trying to put order to chaos. Storytelling is our way to make sense of this mysterious world. It's what unites us. It's what gives us a common cause.

"Mad, Sad, or Glad?"

Louise Hodges, Head of Communications at Travelzoo, said, “Communications is about creating an emotional dialogue with your audience" and tapping into their "hearts and minds." Create a story that is “relatable, memorable and repeatable” and make it pass the WSIGF?!? Test, i.e. Why Should I Give a F**CK?

Let that be a reminder to all of us to stop sending out pointless press releases.

"Put Purpose Ahead of Profit"


“Significant brands are not selling products. They are starting movements. They have a community with a collective cause,” said Alex Myers, founder, and CEO at Manifest.

“It’s no longer enough for a brand to stand for something. It must stand up for something,” he added.

A company is its people, and products and services don't drive us – having a purposeful life does. Organisations need to tap into this higher emotional need to mobilise individuals in a meaningful way and get them behind their cause – that’s our utopia.

Are you addressing this higher cause in your PR?

“What Matters to You”


What's the result? When Paul Sutton presented his 4R model (Reach, Response, Resonance, and Return), he said many of us start on the wrong end of the scale, focusing on "reach" instead of "return" first.

Sutton recounted an anecdote about his wife losing her wedding ring, and how they started a social media campaign to find it. He showed how his campaign was successful regarding reach, response, and resonance. However, the result was sadly unsuccessful: the wedding ring was lost forever.

Always think result first and then means.

"Message First, Channel Second"

“Comms is Changing...But Don’t Believe the Hype,” said Rica Squires, Technology PR Manager at Visa Europe.

Many of us are too focused on the channels and forget the message. The team doing the crisis communication roleplaying at FutureComms16 were too caught up with the platforms, she pointed out, that they forgot to focus on the most important – what to say. Although the communication industry has changed so much over the last two decades, the “message is still fundamental,” said Rica.

Put your attention on the message.

Tell a Good Story

Technology advances so rapidly, so what you learn today becomes obsolete tomorrow. To be successful in PR, junior communicators should, therefore, learn the arts of fostering creativity and storytelling.

The crux to fantastic PR is your ability to move people, generate an emotion, a feeling and influence positive change – communication with a higher purpose.

Finally, it’s how much of a good storyteller you are that counts. Do you love Reggae Reggae Sauce or Levi Roots? The choice is yours. 

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