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Archive for February 2013

Storytelling Tips: A few words worth a thousand pictures

 

Storytelling Tips: A few words worth a thousand pictures
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Storytelling Tips on the Experience Pros Radio Show
Listen to the Radio Version

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

Storytelling Tips: A few words worth a thousand picturesCan you hear me now? Betcha can’t eat just one. Just do it.

There’s nothing like a good tagline to get your story heard, understood — and remembered.

The three taglines I opened with belong to Verizon, Lay’s Potato Chips and Nike. You probably recognized all three without having to give them any real thought. And you probably knew they had something to do with cell phones, potato chips and . . . Nike.

A good tagline tells the rest of us something about what you do. How it benefits us. And makes us think about you — not your competitors.

All three of the taglines in my opening paragraph are great. But, for my money, Nike’s “Just do it” is better than the other two because it’s hard for most of us to hear those words without thinking of Nike and its instantly recognizable swoosh. You probably got the category right when you read the Verizon and Lay’s Potato Chips taglines, but were less likely to remember the names of the companies.

I tend to associate taglines with big companies, partly because they’re the ones who can afford to spend enough money on advertising to imprint their taglines on my brain by repeating them over and over while I’m listening.

But small companies can have good taglines, too.

One of my favorites is ALMC Mortgage’s tagline — All Loans Must Close. It tells me what the company does. Because of the fear of rejection many of us have when applying for a home loan, it tells us how ALMC benefits us. And there’s only one company that it brings to mind. In fact, it helps us remember the right order of the letters in ALMC’s name. For those of you not familiar with it, ALMC Mortgage is based in the Denver suburb of Highlands Ranch. It’s run by a friend of mine, Cheryl Braunschweiger. And, if you’re looking for a home loan, you should give her a call.

If you have a great tagline for your business, I encourage you to use it, use it, use it. And then use it some more. Put it on your business cards, your letterhead, your product, your website — and anywhere else that makes sense.

Why? Because a good tagline sticks in the memory of your audience. It brings you and what you do immediately to mind. And it reminds us about how what you do benefits us. Who could ask for anything more?

A great tagline for your company may just pop into your head. If so, you’re really lucky. Go buy a lottery ticket. Most of the time, though, developing a really good tagline isn’t easy. In fact, some companies spend thousands of dollars and come up empty.

A bad tagline is a waste of time — at best. So, don’t use one unless yours is really good.

What’s a really good tagline for your company? It should be short. Catchy. Easy to remember. Or, better yet, hard to forget. It should say what you do. Why that benefits me. Reflect your company’s personality. And make the rest of us think of your company — and only your company.

That’s some pretty heavy lifting for something as short as a tagline. But do it right and you’ll have a few words worth a thousand pictures.

That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?

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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 is an important part of your story

 

Selling is an important part of your story
An ECO Operations Team Business Tip

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

Selling is an important part of your storyIf you’re in business, a major reason — often the major reason — for telling your story is sell what you sell.

That should be easy, right? Just brag about yourself and how your version of what you sell is better than everyone else’s. I make the best pizza in the world, for example.

Not so fast.

Without some evidence to back it up, my claim that I make the world’s best pizza isn’t all that credible. Am I telling the truth? How do I back it up? What do I mean by “best”? Your version of best might be different than mine. And you may want the cheapest pizza, not the best. Or your primary concern may be prompt delivery because you have a house full of hungry teenagers.

As Chuck Crenshaw pointed out in last week’s ECO Operations Team (ECOops) article, you have three choices when it comes to positioning yourself within your market. You can be:

  • The price leader,
  • The one who provides the best product, or
  • The one who provides the best service.

Where you position yourself within your market matters when it comes to telling your story because different segments of the market are looking for different things.

So, you need to know what you want to be known for before you’re ready to tell your story effectively. And you need to know whether there’s a receptive market for your version of what you’re selling and how you’re selling it. Positioning yourself as the cheapest Mercedes dealer in town and competing solely on price probably isn’t a winning strategy.

Make sure your story speaks to your customers’ needs. Give them a reason to buy what you sell from you instead of one of your competitors by telling them why you’ll do a better job of meeting their needs.

Customers who are looking for the leader in a segment of your market that’s different than the one you’re focusing on probably will take their business somewhere else. That’s okay, as long as the value you offer will attract a big enough portion of the market to make you successful.

The point is that it’s important to understand the segment of the market you’re targeting. And to focus your story on that segment of the market.

If you try to be all things to all people, chances are your story will miss the mark across the board.

Look for next week’s ECOops article by Linda Hughes, founder and social media maven of the Entrepreneurial Community Online (ECO).

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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 Tips: Make one less point

 

Storytelling Tip: Make one less point
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Storytelling Tips on the Experience Pros Radio Show
Listen to the Radio Version

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

Storytelling Tips: Make one less pointStorytelling Tips: Make one less pointWant to be more persuasive when telling your story? Make one less point.

A lot of us believe we can convince the rest of the world if we can just squeeze in one more point, one more reason why we’re right.

But most of the time you’ll be more convincing by making one less point, not one more.

Think of it as putting your story on sale. If you start out making five points to tell your story and cut it back to four, then you’ve put your story on sale for 20 percent off. We don’t have to work as hard to hear or read it.

And consider this: You start with five reasons supporting your message. Eliminate the weakest of the five. Your overall argument just got stronger, not weaker. If you add a point, the chances are it’ll be your weakest one. So, now you’re going downhill. Not a good direction when arguing your case.

So, make one less point. You’ll more convincing.

That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?

————-

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.

Use your nut graph to give us a reason to stick around

 

Use your nut graph to give us a reason to stick around
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Storytelling Tips on the Experience Pros Radio Show
Listen to the Radio Version

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

Use your nut graph to give us a reason to stick aroundYou’ve grabbed our attention with your lead. Now what?

Give us a reason to stick around to hear the rest of your story. That’s the job of your nut graph — your nutshell paragraph, where you summarize the main point of your story and give us a reason to care.

As one observer put it: “It allows readers to understand why the heck they were invited to the party and why they should seriously consider attending.”

Nut graph is a journalism term. So, unless you’ve spent time in a newsroom, you probably haven’t heard it before. Sadly, many people who work in newsrooms haven’t heard it, either. And their writing often suffers as a result.

Once upon a time, most newspaper stories began by telling you something happened today or yesterday. Just the facts. No need for a nut graph. The lead doubled in that role — grabbed your attention and told you what the story was about. The rest of the story just filled in the details. And why should you care? Well, it was “news.” That was reason enough.

But stories — news stories and your story — don’t always begin with those just-the-facts leads followed by filling in the details.

You have to grab our attention so we’ll pause long enough to consider sticking around to hear what you have to say. That’s your lead’s job.

Then you need to hook us with a paragraph that gives us your story in a nutshell and gives us a reason to read or listen to the rest of what you have to say. That’s your nutshell paragraph, your nut graph.

As blogger Michele Rafter puts it: “A story without a gut graph is like a walk in the woods without a path: you know you’re going someplace, you’re just not sure where. The nut graph supplies that direction. It tells readers, ‘This is what this story is about, this is why you should care, this is why you should keep reading.'”

That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?

————-

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.

Telling Your Story: Start by making us want to know more

 


Storytelling Tip: Start by making us want to know more

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 Consultant
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Telling Your Story: Start by making us want to know moreSurprise us. Intrigue us. Arouse our curiosity. Even shock us. But, whatever you do, make us want to know more.

That’s the job of your lead — that all-important beginning of your story.

It’s a bit of showoff or even a tease. But your lead only has one job: Grabbing our attention long enough to get us to pay attention to what you have to say.

If it does that, be grateful for a job well done and move on down the road. Don’t ask it to do more or it may fail to do its job.

Your story — and the message it includes — is competing with a lot of other stories for attention. Meanwhile, the rest of us are fending off most of the messages bombarding us because we’re overwhelmed.

Your lead’s job is to cut through all that clutter to convince us your story’s worth picking out of the crowd for a closer look.

There are any number of ways to do that. But here are four approaches to writing a good lead that generally work well:

The Sgt. Friday Approach: Just the facts, m’am, just the facts. Back in the days when people relied on newspapers for most of their news, leads laying out the basic facts of the story were by far the most common. That’s the way things were back in my days as a reporter. We relied on the facts of the story being interesting enough to keep you reading. It was the man-bites-dog approach to news. An example: “After years of searching, scientists have discovered life on Mars.” You don’t have dress that lead up. If and when the day comes to tell that story, the fact that it happened will be enough to get the story heard.

The Human Interest Approach:  Sometimes just the facts aren’t enough to make your story interesting. Then you need to dress it up a bit. The human-interest approach is one way to do that. Draw us into your story by telling about someone we’d like to get to know better. For example: “Joan Doe has spent the last 43 years helping others. On Tuesday, several dozen of them will be on hand for her final day at work to say thank you and tell her how she changed their lives forever.” Joan sounds like a special person. Wouldn’t you like to know more about her? I would.

The Ask-a-Question Approach:  I remember a time in the newsroom when turning in a story that opened with a question was forbidden. Why? I have no idea. Open with an intriguing question and a lot of us will stick around to hear the answer. For example: “Why are local bird watchers putting down their binoculars and picking up protest signs?” I’d like to know the answer to that question. Wouldn’t you?

The First-Person Approach: Writing instructors often say you should write about what you know best. And what we all know best are our own personal experiences. Be careful, though. Making yourself the hero or heroine of your story may not be as interesting to the rest of us as it is to you. But a really good first-person story about an interesting experience of yours can be hard to resist. For example: “The bear stared at me. I stared back. What I did next probably saved my life. And it could save yours.” Don’t you want to know what happened next? I do.

That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?

————-

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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Jerry@JerryBrownPR.com | 303.594.8016