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Storytelling Tip: More than one way to tell your story

Storytelling Tip: More than one way to tell your story

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

Storytelling Tip: More than one way to tell your storyThere’s more than one way to tell your story. Which one’s the best? That depends. And it won’t always be the same.

I’ve watched three movies about Iwo Jima over the past couple weeks — two directed by Clint Eastwood and a 1949 movie starring John Wayne. I enjoyed all three. But they were all quite different.

Eastwood’s two movies tell the story of Iwo Jima from the opposing sides. Letters from Iwo Jima tells the story from the Japanese side. Flags of Our Fathers tells the story from the American side and focuses on the men brought back from Iwo Jima to the United States for a heroes’ tour to sell war bonds. The John Wayne movie, The Sands of Iwo Jima, is about a group of Marines sent to Iwo Jima. But the battle of Iwo Jima is almost incidental to that version.

If you’re like many of us, you have more than one audience for your story. And those audiences may have different reasons for being interested in what you do or sell.

That’s why it’s so important to understand your objective and your audience before telling your story. Because the way you tell it will be different depending on differences in who you’re trying to reach and what you want them to do.

We all have stories to tell. Do you need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Storytelling Tip: The missing ingredient

 

Storytelling Tip: The missing ingredient

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

Storytelling Tip: The missing ingredientA lot of people leave a key ingredient out when they’re telling their story: Preparation.

World-class athletes, actors, musicians and other performers all share one thing in common: They spend many, many hours studying, preparing and practicing before they step in front of the public to perform.

I’ve heard world-class musicians say they feel like they lose their edge if they miss even a day or two of practice. These are people who are among the best in the world at what they do. Are you better than that when it comes to telling your story? Me, neither.

Here are three questions you should always ask yourself as you prepare to tell your story:

  • What’s your objective? What do you want to happen as a result of telling your story? Do you want us to buy something, do something or believe something? What is it? Be specific.
  • Who’s your audience? Unless you corner the market on air so we all have to do business with you to breathe, the answer is not “everyone.” Be specific.
  • What’s your headline? What’s the one thing you want the rest of us to hear, understand and remember? Be able to say it in about 15 seconds or less.

If you’re putting your story into writing, your headline needs to be the focus of what you say. Your headline is what you want us to remember. Everything else is there to add texture and depth.

If you’re delivering your message in front of an audience, even if it’s an audience of one, you also need to practice, practice, practice. Practice until you can deliver your message so it doesn’t sound memorized or rehearsed.

And, of course, editing is also an important ingredient of any good story. What you leave out is as important as what you put in. Be ruthless when editing your material.

We all have stories to tell. Do you need help telling yours?

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Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist who helps clients get their stories heard, understood and remembered. Need help telling your story? You can reach Jerry at 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Storytelling Tip: Edit until you’re done. Then quit

 

Storytelling Tip: Edit until you’re done. Then quit
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s storytelling tips on the Experience Pros Radio Show

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

Storytelling Tip: Edit until you’re done, then quitAs a foodie, I also like to cook. And my best creations in the kitchen inevitably are the ones where the recipe is: Add things until it tastes right. Then quit.

That’s how I approach editing: Edit until you’re done. Then quit.

How do you know when you’re done? Here are the tests I use to determine when I’m done:

  • Are there words, phrases or even paragraphs I can take out without interfering with what I’m trying to say? If the answer is yes, I’m not done editing. Edit until no matter how hard you try, anything you take out means not telling the story you want to tell.
  • Have you filled in all the holes? Will your readers have questions you haven’t answered? If there are, fill in those holes.
  • Have I told the story I want to tell? Or did I get sidetracked as I was writing and go done a different path? Do I need to go back and fix that? Or was the new path the right one?
  • Does it sound right? If it doesn’t sound quite right, there’s a change in there waiting to be made. It may take a little while to find it, but it’s there. And making what you’ve written sound right is important. Good writing has a natural rhythm.
  • Have you found all the typos? Are you sure? How hard have you looked? Typos have a knack for going unseen until after you’ve hit the print button. So, proof what you’ve read until you’re confident you’ve found all the typos. Then consider proofing it one more time.

Once you’re satisfied that you’ve gotten rid of all the extra words, made it sound right and fixed all the typos, you’re done. Almost. If you have the luxury of doing so, put what you’ve written aside for a while. Go for a walk. Sleep on it. Do something else, whatever that is. Then come back to what you’ve written and read it over one more time.

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 10:05 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: Be Trendy

 

Storytelling Tips: Be Trendy
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: Be TrendyPeople love to know about the latest trends. And that means telling the rest of us about a trend involving what you do will help make your story interesting to the rest of us.

Better yet, tell us how we can take advantage of a trend or avoid being hurt by it. That gives us information we can act on in a beneficial way.

We’re interested in trends because they show what other people are doing that we may want to do, too. If enough people are doing it, maybe they know something we don’t.

When kids started wearing backpacks to school, there were lots of stories about that because it was a new trend. Then came the stories about what to look for when shopping for a backpack. And then came the stories about the back problems kids were having and how to avoid them.

When summer comes, you can count on stories about new grilling techniques. And new fashions, of course.

What are the current trends in college majors? If you sell insurance, are there changes in the kinds of insurance people are buying? Why? Are people buying different kinds of cars? Buying more houses? Eating out more — or less?

If you have information about an emerging trend that would be useful or interesting to the rest of us, consider using it to tell your story. If the trend affects me, I’ll probably be interested. And if it affects a lot of people, a lot of people will be interested.

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.

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.

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.

Storytelling Tip: Use the calendar to tell your story

 

Storytelling Tip: Use the calendar to tell your story
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: Use the calendar to tell your storyHappy Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving traditions — turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, pumpkin pie, the food-induced coma at the end of the day.

And, of course, Butterball University giving its annual save-your-turkey tips on national television. Some people watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I watch the folks from Butterball tell the rest of us how to save our holiday feast.

It’s a perfect example of how to use the calendar to tell your story. Butterball’s turkey experts have been staffing phone lines since 1981 to help desperate cooks on Thanksgiving and Christmas. And the rest of the year, too. But they aren’t on national TV then.

Somewhere along the way an overachieving marketer created the term Butterball University to describe the training for the company’s Turkey Talk-Line experts. The head of the unit became the dean of Butterball University. And a zillion headlines and TV appearances were born.

The calendar contains a wealth of opportunities to tell your story. August is ripe for back-to-school and other education-related stories. New Year’s is a good time for stories about all those things people can do to improve themselves. Anniversaries, holidays and changing seasons all lend themselves to telling your story — including some you can turn into news stories — if you’re creative enough and paying attention to your calendar.

One of my “favorite” examples is an opportunity missed. I was on the corporate PR staff of one of the Baby Bell phone companies for many years. One morning as we sat around brainstorming story ideas one of my colleagues jokingly suggested we should celebrate Alexander Graham Bell’s 150th birthday, which was that very day.

Everyone laughed at his little joke. Except me. I realized it was an opportunity lost. With enough planning, we could have thrown old Alex a heck of a party and featured some of the latest gadgets we had to sell to show how much things had changed since his day.

Don’t miss your opportunity to use the calendar to tell your story.

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.

Storytelling Tip: Be an expert

 

Storytelling Tip: Be an expert
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: Be an expertAre you good at what you do? If so, you know more about what you do than the rest of us. That makes you an expert.

And if you do or sell something I need, then I’m counting on your expertise. Because I want the best I can get for my money.

When it comes to telling your story there’s nothing more powerful than being an expert — and sharing your expertise with the rest of us who need your help. That’s why stories that offer tips are so popular with journalists. They know their readers or viewers are interested in useful tips about all kinds of things.

Becoming a recognized expert in your field is a worthy goal. But if you’re in a business that has a lot of competitors — and most of us are — then you won’t be alone. There are other experts, too. Then your challenge is to tell your story well enough that we do business with you — not with one of those other experts you’re competing with.

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.

Storytelling Tip: Know when to shut up

 

Storytelling Tip: Know when to shut up
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: Know when to shut upToday’s tip is inspired by the end of campaign season: Know when to shut up. Or, more politely, when to keep quiet.

No matter how interested you are in the outcome of the election and no matter who you’re supporting, you probably won’t miss all those ads and robocalls.

Politicians are always going to campaign right up until election day. We expect that. And we expect them to keep pushing their message at us over and over and over. It’s the tone and the length of the campaigning that wears most of us down.

For most of us, there’s not a day set on the calendar when it will be time to quit telling our story. It’s an ongoing saga that won’t end until we leave the world of business.

But there are times when we’re better off keeping quiet. Or limiting what we have to say to things that don’t have anything to do with selling.

I’m a big advocate of telling your story clearly and often. Repetition is important because most of us won’t hear you the first time you deliver your message.

But we don’t want to be hounded by your message. And we don’t want you pushing yourself on us every time we see you.

So, tell your story. Tell it well. And tell it often. But know when it’s time to keep quiet. Or at least when it’s time to talk about something else. Sometimes silence really is golden.

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.

Storytelling Tip: Your message is more than the words you say

 

Storytelling Tip: Your message is more than the words you say
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: Your message is more than the words you sayThe words you use when developing your message and telling your story are important. But your message is a lot more than the words you use.

Your message also includes:

  • The optics of your story. That includes photos and other images you use in telling your story. We’ve become a very visual society. Limiting your message to words alone will limit its visibility and its appeal.
  • The tone of your story. What do you want to emphasize? Your professionalism? Your friendliness? Trustworthiness? The fact that you care? Your prices? Two companies in essentially the same business may tell their story quite differently because of the tone they choose.
  • Who you are and what you do. If you’re in business, the words you use to tell your story are usually about attracting our interest, getting us to check out what you do or what you sell. But who you are and what you do are equally important to your message. If our experience in doing business with you doesn’t match your words, we probably won’t be back. And instead of recommending you to our friends, we may warn them to stay away.

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.

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Jerry@JerryBrownPR.com | 303.594.8016