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Archive for January 2013

Storytelling Tip: Focus on a Single Idea

 

Storytelling Tip: Focus on a Single Idea
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Tips for Telling Your Story on the Experience Pros Radio Show
Listen to the Radio Version

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Storytelling Tip: Focus on a Single IdeaFocus your story around a single topic, preferably one you can put into a single sentence.

In school, we were taught our paragraphs should have a topic sentence summarizing the main thought of that paragraph.

I encourage you to take it a step further. Organize your story around a single topic sentence as well.

As a young journalist, I was taught to start my stories with a single sentence — the lead — that told the reader what the story was about. And then I was supposed to make everything else explain or elaborate on my lead. Parts of the story that didn’t explain my lead were strong candidates for being edited out.

Focusing on a single topic is a good storytelling formula because it forces you to be clear about what you have to say.

What if you have five tips about how to [fill in the blank]? Don’t you have five things to talk about in that case? Yes, you do. But they all focus on the single topic of how to do whatever goes into your fill-in-the-blank space. And each of those tips will focus on its own single idea.

Movies and novels often have multiple subplots. It can be part of what makes them interesting.

Doesn’t that violate my single-topic rule? Yes. And no. You’re going to spend 90 minutes or longer watching a movie and more time than that reading most novels. All those subplots help keep you interested along the way. But those subplots usually flesh out the main plot of the story in some way. And most of those movies and novels can generally be boiled down to a single topic that serves as the unifying thread of the story.

If your audience will be spending 90 minutes or longer on your story, you may need a subplot or two as well. But in the business world we’re often lucky to get 90 seconds of their time. So, stay focused on a single thought.

Put what you want to tell us into a single sentence — your lead. And then use the rest of what you have to say explaining or elaborating on your lead.

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros Radio Show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet. Missed it on the air? Listen to the archived tips.

Selling Requires Telling (Your Story)

 

Selling Requires Telling (Your Story)

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

What's your story?“Ultimately you have to sell whatever it is you sell to stay in business.” And successful selling requires telling your story well.

The quote about selling what you sell to stay in business comes from an article last week by sales professional Chuck Crenshaw of RevenueMaxSalesSystem.com. The article lists the three basic options, including sales, for generating more cash for your business.

As Chuck pointed out, if you’re not generating enough cash to grow your business — or even stay in business — you’ll probably want to focus on selling more.

How do you that? One place to start is by making sure you’re telling your story properly.

What problem do you solve for your customers? What need of theirs do you meet? How do you make their lives simpler, happier better? How do you make their businesses more successful?

Coming up with the answers to the questions in that list is a good starting point for your story.

Ultimately, of course, you want to tell your story in a way that benefits you. But the surest way to make sure your story benefits you is to tell us how it benefits us.

Chuck and I are part of the Operations Team of the Entrepreneurial Community Online, better known as ECO. In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll be tag-teaming one another with blog posts designed to help you be more successful.

Chuck will offer sales tips. I’ll focus on messaging and branding — telling your story. Linda Hughes, ECO’s founder and social media maven, will share some insights about using social media to spread your message and attract customers. She’s up next week with some thoughts about using social media to target your audience. We have other team members you’ll meet later.

We hope you’ll find our advice helpful. We invite you to offer comments, ask questions, join the conversation. And, of course, we’re available to work with you if you need help from one or more members of our team.

I’ll be back with another storytelling tip as part of this conversation in a few weeks. In the meantime, watch for Linda’s article next week and tips from other members of our team in the weeks ahead.

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros Radio Show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet. Missed it on the air? Listen to the archived tips.

Storytelling Tip: Start with your customers

 

Storytelling Tip: Start with your customers
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Tips for Telling Your Story on the Experience Pros Radio Show
Listen to the Radio Version

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

MousetrapWhat problem do you solve for your customers? What need of theirs do you meet? How do you make their lives simpler, happier, better? How do you make their businesses more successful?

Coming up with the answers to the questions in that list is the starting point for your story.

Ultimately, of course, you want to tell your story in a way that benefits you. But the surest way to make sure your story benefits you is to tell us how it benefits us.

Inventors typically start with a problem that needs to be solved and figure out a way to solve it. If it’s a problem shared by enough people and the invention solves it better than anyone else, the inventor has a chance to become rich.

Another way to say that is “build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door” although we probably should update that to “build a better smartphone and the world will beat a path to your door.”

Too many people start their story by talking about themselves. And their focus as they tell their story is also themselves. Focus on yourself and the rest of us are likely to ignore or dismiss what you say.

Focus on how you can help us and we’re more likely to reward you with our business.

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros Radio Show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet. Missed it on the air? Listen to the archived tips.

Storytelling Tip: Anticipate problems

 

Storytelling Tip: Anticipate problems
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Tips for Telling Your Story on the Experience Pros Radio Show
Listen to the Radio Version

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Storytelling Tip: Anticipate problemsWe all know it’s important to say the right thing when telling your story.

But it’s also important to anticipate problems so you can avoid saying the wrong thing — and so you’ll be prepared to rebut skeptics, competitors or enemies who challenge what you say.

I suggest asking — and answering — five questions as you prepare your story:

  • What’s your objective? What do you want to happen because you told your story? Be specific. And don’t skip this step just because you think you know the answer.
  • Who’s your audience? Who are you trying to reach with your story?
  • What’s your headline? What’s the one thing you want the rest of us to hear, understand and remember if we forget everything else you say? This is the main message of your story. Make it clear and simple. And be able to say it in 15 seconds or less.
  • Do you have other messages you want to include? Okay, you probably have a dozen. But limit yourself to no more than three messages anytime you tell your story. Save the rest for another day. If you hit us with too many messages, we won’t remember any of them. Having too many messages is the same as not having any messages.
  • What message(s) do you want to avoid? This is a question that often gets overlooked. But it’s extremely important. What will your competitors say? Be ready with your answer before you tell your story. Are there politically sensitive issues you need to avoid so you won’t offend your audience? Does your audience have misconceptions you need to debunk? Saying the wrong thing or failing to address misconceptions your audience already has can destroy your story. So, don’t forget to ask yourself what can go wrong. And then know what you’ll say — or avoid saying — to make sure it doesn’t.

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros Radio Show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet. Missed it on the air? Listen to the archived tips.

Storytelling Tip: Keep it fresh

 

Storytelling Tip: Keep It Fresh
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Tips for Telling Your Story on the Experience Pros Radio Show
Listen to the Radio Version

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Storytelling Tip: Keep it freshHas your message gotten stale? If so, it’s time to freshen it up.

My favorite bread gets stale in a day. Bananas are pretty dicey after a week. And, despite jokes to the contrary, even Twinkies had a shelf life. So does your message.

Good storytellers pay attention to how their audience reacts. They want to know which parts of their story resonate with their audience and which parts don’t. And what works today may not work tomorrow.

The fact is most businesses evolve, including yours. Your audience is evolving. And what you say about your business needs to evolve, too.

Some businesses update their messages weekly or even daily. This week’s sale will be old news by next week. For others, once or twice a year may be often enough.

How often do you need to change your story? That depends on you, your business — and the people you’re trying to reach.

If your business changes quickly and often, your message needs to change quickly and often. If your business doesn’t change, or the changes happen slowly, you probably don’t need to change your message very often, either.

But, just like Twinkies, your message does have a shelf life. Don’t let it get stale.

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros Radio Show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet. Missed it on the air? Listen to the archived tips.

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Contact Jerry

Jerry@JerryBrownPR.com | 303.594.8016