Essentials for PR Success: You Need a Story

pr success storytelling

Image from: Storytelling / Shutterstock

Last week at the Advertising Club of NYC, special guest Sloane Humphrey, President of Powell Communications, came in to share some insight on what she refers to as “storytelling” through the lens of public relations. Powell Communications is a B2B PR firm that works with advertising, marketing, education and technology companies. Their job is to make clients famous for what they do. They are essentially the storytellers for creative businesses.

Some of their big name clients include: Big Spaceship, JWT, AT&T, and Saatchi & Saatchi. Clearly these are successful businesses with internal talent capable of creating and sharing their own stories. So why do they enlist the help of Powell Communications? “Creativity is messy.” Think of it this way, why would a gourmet Chef pop in a microwaveable meal at the end of his kitchen shift? These companies boost their creative brainpower for their clients, and thus their own needs take the backseat. Therefore, companies hire someone like Powell Communications to do the job right and put in all the necessary effort on their behalf. Outsourcing this kind of work is beneficial to creative agencies and marketing firms because they get to see the results they pay for, which is all they have time to worry about amid their own daily responsibilities.

What is the number one criteria for PR success?

How exactly does Powell Communications deliver the results their clients are looking for? Well first, there has to be a story. That’s criteria #1 before the PR firm will consider taking on a client. In other words, it needs to be the right time for the client to present itself to the media. Once the PR team is able to validate that there’s a story worth telling, a process is put into place in order to make the client stand out among competitors and achieve goals, such as making the industry’s top agency lists. The Powell Communications team uses its connections to various reporters and writers to first put the client on the radar of various verticals (industry specific publications). The goal is to start with a specific audience of brand managers, recruiters, and vendors who know the ins and outs of the industry. Once the client’s story is shared within a more niche circle, the Powell Communications team pushes the client out into the greater media, and general business world, consisting of an audience that is “responsible for moving the needle.”

One case study Humphrey shared related to the Johnson & Johnson MagicVision campaign for Band Aid, featuring the Muppets. The product is associated with an app designed to make kids feel better about their “boo-boos” by interacting with their favorite characters after the Muppet branded Band Aid is applied to where it hurts. Powell Communications’ job with this campaign was to credit JWT New York (the creators behind the big idea) for this forward thinking campaign. The agency came up with a creative way to bring Band Aid to the online space. It was Humphrey and her team’s job to find a way to position them along with the story that Johnson & Johnson was telling.

Are you getting digital right?

The work done at Powell Communications is a great example of how to “get digital right.” The team chooses clients selectively to avoid setting a client up for failure or jeopardizing their own reputation. They use the digital space to spread the word about a client and promote their work through social media, online articles, blogs, etc. to the appropriate audiences in a strategic manner. Their work is an example of how storytelling, originally created as an oral tradition, has emerged into a digital strategy used to promote company growth and awareness. Nowadays, we’re our own personal brands with a presence on various social media platforms.

Learn to tell your story online and it might just be memorable enough to pass down from generation to generation.