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What is your story? The power of digital storytelling in public relations

Emanuel Schmid, Junior Consultant

Who doesn't love them? The exciting stories. Tradition shows: For more than 40,000 years, people have been telling each other stories and thus passing on their knowledge.

Communication specialists also embrace the age-old communication form of conveying information. The difference to storytelling in the old days is the use of new technologies. Digital media multiply the transmission channels (websites, blogs, social media channels, mobile applications) and content formats (text, image, video, audio, interactive elements) that can be used in communication. Digital storytelling thus makes storytelling more diverse, location- and time-independent, and participatory.

In recent years, digital storytelling has become one of the most successful techniques of modern corporate communication. In a time of information overload, stories provide value, meaning and significance. Corporate storytelling helps to bind stakeholders. Facts and data presented without a story are often difficult to understand due to the lack of context. Presentations with endless bulleted lists and diagrams bore, confuse and are rarely remembered. Ergo: storytelling strengthens communication.

Narrative public relations

A CFO swimming in coins? A lightsaber-wielding CEO in a robe?

Corporate storytelling does not aim for such fabulous self-staging images. The intention to deceive others in order to present oneself in the best light is quickly seen through and has a counterproductive effect on one's own reputation. Instead, the focus is on how companies can attract attention to themselves in a likeable way on the social web. The answer: conveying information through exciting stories.

Whereas in traditional public relations communication the media type text is the central means of conveying information, the focus in digital media is shifting toward (audio-)visual content. The story is moving to the forefront in favor of news and announcements. Companies and brands no longer act merely as informants, but become publishers. Topic setting is also changing: away from internal content to publicly relevant content. Press and campaign work is increasingly becoming channel and content management.

The art of engaging audiences via the screen

What are good stories that grab our attention? They touch emotionally - and more so than pure facts. They draw us in. They move us. And most importantly, they stay in our memories.

So storytelling fascinates and engages. In the digital space, it's the art of engaging audiences via the screen. Digital storytelling can be transmedia, open, flexible, non-linear, and experimental to engage audiences. But, whether digital or analog, stories must evoke the emotions of the addressees.

The hero's journey is a time-tested recipe for telling good stories. In addition to the plot revolving around a conflict and having one or more protagonists, "The Reason Why" is essential in corporate storytelling: for what reason is the story being told?

So, do you know your company's vision and aspiration in order to sustain successful storytelling? What is your story?


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