Are you done talking yet?


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Close-up of father reading story to son (10-11)We all have that friend or colleague that will come in Monday morning, uber excited to tell you all about their weekend and you’re already cringing at the thought of it. It’s not that the story won’t be interesting. Perhaps they won a million dollars or got engaged. It doesn’t matter. Your friend can’t tell a story to save her life. In fact after she finishes the story, you’ll have aged about 20 or so years and forgotten what she was talking about in the first place. What does story telling have to do with PR? Well, everything. Telling a story, in my opinion, is very similar to pitching a story to media professionals.

At my company, I have the opportunity to work in teams. We collaborate on everything and often pitch the same story just to our respective outlets. So why is it that I may get more interest from the media than my respected colleague? I think it depends heavily on how we tell our story. Some things I’ve noticed along the way:

Be excited. Our friend Keith is amazing at this. I swear he could sell a red popsicle to a beauty queen in a white dress. Honestly, find something that excites you about your client/product and immerse yourself in it. If there is truly nothing you can get behind, than try a little trick–smile when you’re talking about it. I know this sounds crazy but it’s the truth.

Be quick. Please, I’m in my twenties and already have some gray hair.  By the time you finish your story, I may have wrinkles. Same goes for pitching. Assuming you’ve already asked if the producer has a minute, really only make it a minute. I don’t mean talk fast, but please get to the point. If they are nice enough to listen to you, be courteous enough to not waste their time.

Be a showman. Some of us get a lot of flack for this but the truth is sometimes you must exaggerate. We’re not saying you should pull an entire story (and especially not a pitch) out of thin air, but sometimes details need to be added or taken away to make a story more streamlined, or to have more impact. Think of it as editing. Life is, on the whole, pretty boring. You’re doing people a favor when you give them something more (or in this case less). Just don’t stumble into the realm of full-fledged falsehood.

Be respectful. If you know your audience, you’ll know when to tell them the story and when to keep your dang mouth shut. You wouldn’t tell your grandmother about how you danced on that table this weekend, would you? Likewise, you wouldn’t tell someone who works the technology beat that they totally have to read your pitch about a new travel destination. It’s just not a story that they want to hear.

Be un-pointless. You better have a point, man. If you ever took a creative writing class in college, you might remember “That Girl/Guy” who always forced the class to read their stupid, boring stories where a main character very much like her/him would sit in a room and maybe smoke a cigarette and think about life. Shoot me now. There’s a time and a place for the avant garde story, and it ain’t here. Your pitch shouldn’t get bogged down with needless details. It’s a story with a conclusion, a call to action, a punchline, a POINT.

So go, tell stories. Flail your arms a bit while telling it. But tell it quick, tell it right, and tell it to the people who need to hear it.

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