Who doesn't love a good story? We often think of stories from an entertainment point of view. Just for our consumption to enjoy for that period of time and do nothing with after the experience is over. As brand storytellers, we want people to hear a story that does inspire action.

I almost feel redundant writing a blog post on storytelling since these posts seem to be a dime-a-dozen online now. It's just a subject that has been brought to my attention again here of late. Working in the nonprofit world with a lot of causes and organizations doing good work out there, it's the easiest selling strategy one could take but is often overlooked.

How a story changed a business

I know one person right now who had a decently successful business going. One day, she had a video of her go viral (in a good way). The video gave insight into her story and her personal mission, which happened to be the same mission as her business. The story caught on and inventory of her online store sold out completely in less than two days. People wrote in and said they bought some of her items, not because they could use them, but because they wanted to support her mission and cause in some way. Sure, her products are great but it wasn't the product or business that people bought into - it was the story behind it.

Think of Tom's Shoes. Warby Parker. Ben and Jerry's. Red Bull.  These are all consumer facing companies that sell stories. They aren't all feel-good charity stories but they tell stories that eventually help sell products. People are more likely to buy into a narrative. Not necessarily the features of a product but how that brand makes them feel.

Also, think of a nonprofit organization. Are you a homeless shelter? Don't tell people that you are a homeless shelter. Don't shovel out statistics that you serve X amount of people every day, have X number beds or need X cans of food. Tell us a story about one person in your shelter. How they started in a rough place, found safety and security with your shelter and saw some turn in their life narrative as a result.

The elements of a good story

In a recent lunch and learn talk at DeMoss, one of our agency leaders Jeremy Blume walked us through the elements of a good story. He used Star Wars as a great example of a narrative that encompasses all elements of a great story. We looked through what makes up a good story:


As PR and marketing professionals, we are literally professional storytellers. The stories take different shapes and we may play different storytelling roles but at the end of the day, it's what we are tasked to do. It's harder in some areas than others but everyone has a story to tell.

Don't tell us what you do (or what your client does). Tell us why you do it.

What stories are you telling? What good stories have you heard recently?