Storytelling in PR must have a purpose

By Simon Moss, Business Development Director

Putting my journalist hat back on for a few moments, the issue of storytelling in PR is one that has interested me since I made the move to the dark side just shy of five years ago.

When inundated with press releases, the wider issue, point or key message pull through was invariably lost – particularly on a news-hack who wasn’t interested in what I now know to be opinion leadership. If it had a purpose and was relevant to our readership, I was interested.

Fast forward a few years and I am obviously far more attuned to PR content and what is trying to be conveyed. Rather than being oblivious to it, I am now annoyed and frustrated by the notion of “storytelling”.

To my mind, dressing up content as a story is to ignore its true purpose. There is no point in hiding the fact that PR content is generated to meet specific aims (or at least it should be!). Rather, it is an attempt by lazy agencies to dress up part of their offering with a pleasant-sounding phrase and hope that attempts to disguise its fluffy nature.

This is where Whiteoaks’ Content with Intent approach, to my mind, encapsulates everything PR content should be. I absolutely agree that – and have seen examples of – B2B technology vendors are rightly passionate about their products, but often focus too much on the bits and the bytes of what they do, rather than what would resonate with target audiences. This is the issues, challenges and pain points that they are facing.

So yes, all content must be audience-centric. From the outset I was delighted with how strongly we adhere to this. But this content must have a purpose, it must contain the right messages, or else how can you possibly hope to drive the right perceptions of your client in the media?

PR has earned itself a bad reputation by trying to hide its flaws through jargon. Storytelling is all well and good, but it has to have a purpose.