Crafting Your Story for Business
We sat down with PR veteran, Dave Clifton, to chat about why storytelling is important, what makes a good story, PR strategy tips, and online modules of Share Your Story.
“Anybody can tell a story, but putting it down into words and having it resonate with someone else takes work.” – Dave Clifton
Why is storytelling important?
Stories are what make the connections for humankind. Everything is a story and it’s not really the fabric, it’s the thread that ties people together. If you can come up with a story, you can captivate them. From a business perspective if you tell good stories, you get a customer. And if you can keep telling good stories, you keep that customer. Stories really are everything about our past, present, and future. We learn from the stories of the past, we tell stories in the present to be able to define the future, and we frame stories in hopes that the future turns out a certain way.
What makes a good story?
It’s all about connection. A good story is one that comes from the outside in – which comes with understanding who is on the outside and the reason you’re telling the story. The story isn’t “buy my product.” It’s why the product is important and why you should pay attention to it. From a business perspective, that’s the nuance of a good story. You don’t talk at them, you listen to them. You tell the story like you want to hear it. Businesses really get tripped up on being cute and superfluous and wordy and they forget that’s the nuance of a good story.
What is the hardest part about PR for most companies?
Doing it and understanding it. Companies don’t put the focus on the word “public” and instead put the focus on themselves. It’s the concept of inside out vs. outside in. You need to determine why you’re doing PR and what the strategy is. Are you trying to build a brand, sell products and services, promote a philanthropic foundation, deal with past issues, grow your customer base, or grow followers?
Media outlets receive countless pitches per day, what sets a pitch apart?
First – you better have one hell of a good subject line. The subject line will kill you if it isn’t good. Second – it has to address something that is relevant to what they’re doing. If you can get those two, there’s a good chance they’ll open it. From there, that first paragraph in your email better knock their socks off. It should craft the story and be a hook.
If there’s one tip you would give to a business about to embark on creating a PR strategy, what would it be?
Focus. Focus on one or two things and do it really well. Don’t try to be everything to everybody. Really focus in on what you’re trying to accomplish and build your strategy from there. You can spend a lot of money if you aren’t focused and dialed in. Your audience is the key.
What inspired you to create Share Your Story?
I’ve been storytelling my whole career. As I’ve gone through and worked at various PR positions, the one thing I’ve noticed specifically with smaller companies is they don’t have the resources or knowledge to tell their stories in ways to get broader exposure outside of digital ads. They don’t have a lot of time and they don’t have a lot of money. I thought, “What if I could put together a program that could take 1-2 hours a week, create a place where people can interact, have it be affordable, and at the end people will have a product that will tell their story.” The nine modules walk you step by step of why stories are important, down to creating a template for pitches. I also added a tenth module on how to write press releases. It all flowed together and I’m really happy with how it turned out.
What is the biggest thing you’ve learned since becoming a business owner?
It’s hard. There’s no easy way to do anything. Being a sole entrepreneur, I have to do everything myself. And I really stink at a lot of it. I have to make hard decisions of what I outsource and what I do myself. If you don’t have a steady income, that can become a barrier and sometimes feels overwhelming. I’ve really had to step back and say, “Am I trying to do too much and am I focused in the right area?” That’s why I created this program. I wanted to help other people like me have something easy and affordable and I wanted something that could provide me with income.
Any book recommendations?
- On Writing by Stephen King
- Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
- The Dictionary – We need a better vocabulary. There are a lot of ways to say words that will connect with people without being flowery. You can work magic with your words.
If you are interested in purchasing the Share Your Story modules, please visit their website.