What’s your favorite fairy tale?
I actually have a bunch of them.
There’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, of course. Also Cinderella. Also Sleeping Beauty. Also…
Image: Thom Watson via Flickr, Creative Commons
OK, I’ll stop now, I can see you rolling your eyes, going, “Come on, act your age.”
Well, I still love fairy tales.
They have characters with goals, conflict, resolution, drama, often a quest and a love interest.
They’re also make-believe, so even if they have somewhat terrifying elements in them, we can comfort ourselves by knowing they’re not real.
They usually have some kind of lesson (usually good conquers evil in some shape or form) and we try valiantly, as children, to live up to those lessons.
And they almost always end with a “happily ever after.”
What’s not to love?
If you are looking for ways to energize your public relations and social media efforts in the new year, you might want to re-read a fairy tale.
I’ll tell you why in a minute.
The story of Samuel Gordon Jewelers
If you’ve been reading my BNET column (what do you mean, you’re not?! Sign up post-haste!), you’ll remember I profiled Dan Gordon and his use of social media.
It’s where I told his story.
Now, I’ve written before about how public relations is really about telling your story.
And what people like Dan and SGJ are doing is using social to break the mold of traditional PR and take it several steps further.
They’re not just telling their own stories well.
They’re doing such a good job of it, that they’re getting their customers and community to tell their stories for them.
When I told his story at GrowSmartBiz 2010, one of my favorite responses was from Vanessa French, when she said, “What a terrific story.”
I’ll never forget that.
“What a terrific story!”
Back to fairy tales
Regardless of which one is your favorite, fairy tales are terrific stories.
And more than anything, they teach us how to tell stories.
And that is what is really key in the “new” public relations world.
It’s not just about replacing one-way messaging with two- or multi-way dialog through several channels, though that is certainly part of it.
It is really about using the channels so well, building such good relationships with one’s community, that they are energized to tell your story for you.
I mean, when you think about it, that is really what we want out of PR, isn’t it?
First, we want someone to understand what it is we do.
That’s the main thing; if our customers don’t even understand what we do, we can pretty much take the rest of our PR strategy and shove it up the chimney.
Then, we want them to relate to us; to find a connection between the story we’re telling and their own lives and stories.
Once they do, we hope that they will find that connection so powerful, that they’ll tell a couple people, and those people will tell a couple people, and those people will … and so on.
And as this story is told over and over again, that people will use our services, buy our products, donate to our causes, etc.
So integrating traditional and social channels into our outreach is just the beginning.
Public relations really comes into its own when you’ve told your story so well, and connected with your community so well, that they start to tell your story for you.
I mean, look at me. I’m not even a customer of Dan’s, yet I tell his story all the time.
In 2011, let’s make our stories terrific.
Let’s make them so terrific, that other people will tell our stories for us.
So, come on, then. What’s your favorite fairy tale?
[…] may think you’re too old for fairy tales and stories, but think again. You are never too old to apply the lessons learned from stories to your business strategy. Let’s take a look at some lessons learned from storytelling to children that can easily be […]
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Here’s my choice of fairy tale that’s essential reading for everyone in public relations: The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen. Who dares tell the truth?
That’s a great one, Richard. Thanks for stopping by!
It’s like the difference between watching a documentary and watching a Disney movie. You might feel more well-informed after the documentary, but you won’t spend the length of the Disney movie waiting for it to end.
That said, I may be biased. I will always be a little girl when it comes to princess stories.
Thanks for this post! There’s so much truth here.
I love that analogy, Laura. One of the things I’ve noticed about documentaries is that sometimes they will use recreation to tell the story. I don’t know about others, but almost always, for me, that falls flat, because it’s “fake.” I’d so much rather they focused on the actual story rather than the bells and whistles of it.
Thanks very much Shonali for including me in this piece. Words cannot begin to express how much I believe this to be true. I think ‘Story Telling’ has become such a forgotten art in todays’ hyper-connected world. I’ve recently have been thinking about this a lot lately while looking at my Twitter stream or Facebook News Feed. Even when I am reading blogs or catching up on Reader. So much noise with so little purpose. What truly stands out to me, at least, is something interesting that has a tale to tell for me to want to know more about how it grows, evolves and even take on a life of it’s own through other channels out there. In other words, it’s what makes me stick around and listen to whatever is being pushed out, inevitably drawing me in more and for more. Anyway, that’s my 2 cents :) Thanks so much for all your support in 2010 and the best to everyone in 2011. Look forward to staying in touch and seeing where all of our storyline’s lead us to which paths and where the adventures go!
My pleasure, Dan, though I actually have to thank you for letting me tell your story over and over again. If anyone knows how to tell a story through social media, you do. Looking forward to seeing where you take SGJ in 2011.
Great post Shonali! Storytelling is the magic ingredient that gets people engaged. Facts? Who cares? Tell me a story and I’m yours…
Ann, thanks so much for stopping by! Exactly – there’s so much power in a story, and we tend to forget that.
[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shonali Burke, Stephanie Krol and others. Stephanie Krol said: And PR + social media lived happily ever after- great blog @shonali How Reading Fairy Tales Can Improve PR http://t.co/yJBuLFO via @shonali […]