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Storytelling is at the heart of every public relations outreach. Be it through informal conversations or formal structures like press releases and news pitches, PR professionals are always trying to tell a story one way or the other. There are a lot of storytelling tips available to help young professionals hone their storytelling techniques; however, the most beneficial approach towards developing this skill is to study materials on storytelling.

After reading Annette Simmons’ The Story Factor, I must confess that I got hipped to the idea that storytelling is a strength that should be cultivated by public relations professionals in order to be successful in the field of practice. One part that resonates from the book is the notion that “facts are boring, banal, and hard to swallow”. To be better expressed, they have to be clothed in stories. This can be likened to a rose flower, with facts as thorns and stories as the petals. Standing alone, the thorns are meaningless, but with the petals, it becomes a symbol for the expression of meaning (love, friendship, affection… the list goes on).

The concept of storytelling in PR is probably not a new one. Elements of this can be traced back to the times of Edward Bernays, and his famous women’s cigarette smoking campaign in 1920s. Up until the time of the campaign, women were not allowed to smoke in public places. Bernays, however helped the Tobacco Company tell its story by showcasing models holding lit Lucky Strike cigarettes – “Torches of Freedom” – during the 1929 Easter parade in New York City. This revolutionized the tobacco industry. Continue reading