The Public Relations BlogCreativityStorytelling & WritingStorytelling Techniques (in 15 Minutes)

Storytelling Techniques (in 15 Minutes)

Four simple scripts that you can use to tell better stories.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

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What storytelling tech­niques can you learn in 15 minutes?

I have four per­fect ways to chal­lenge your inner storyteller if you want storytelling techniques.

And the best part: 

Neither of these storytelling scripts should take you more than 15 minutes to try for yourself.

Here we go:

Storytelling Technique 1: The Pixar Pitch

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Storytelling Technique: The Pixar Pitch

The Pixar Pitch, made fam­ous by Dan Pink in his book To Sell Is Human, is an excel­lent way to find a nar­rat­ive in your business. 

Emma Coats, a story artist at Pixar, has broken down the key ele­ments of great storytelling in an eleg­ant way that cer­tainly could help improve your storytelling. 

Here’s the Pixar Pitch script for you to try: 

Once upon a time there was _​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​. Every day _​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​. One day _​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​. Because of that _​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​. Because of that _​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​. Until finally _________. 

Jay Connor gives this example of a plot for Finding Nemo:

Once upon a time, there was a wid­owed fish named Marlin, who was highly pro­tect­ive of his only son, Nemo.

Every day Marlin warned Nemo of the ocean’s dangers and implored him not to swim far away.

One day in an act of defi­ance, Nemo ignores his father’s warn­ings and swims into the open water.

Because of that, he is cap­tured by a diver and ends up in the fish tank of a dent­ist in Sydney.

Because of that Marlin sets off on a jour­ney to recov­er Nemo, enlist­ing the help of oth­er sea creatures along the way.

Until finally Marvin and Nemo find each oth­er, reunite and learn that love depends on trust.

As I tried this for my own freel­ance busi­ness, Spin Factory, here’s what I came up with:

Once upon a time, there was no inter­net.

Every day, com­pan­ies had to rely on a few power­ful mass media dis­trib­ut­ors to mar­ket to their con­sumers.

One day, the advance­ments in inform­a­tion tech­no­logy exploded, and all com­pan­ies had to change their way of reach­ing out, but few knew how to do this.

Because of that, “social media experts” emerged and star­ted mak­ing money from com­pan­ies by advising them to pol­lute the digit­al uni­verse with clut­ter and com­plex­ity.

Because of that, Jerry struggled with the idea that com­pan­ies should strive to be clear­er instead of rely­ing on the same old spray-and-pray strategy.

Until finally, he decided to take a leap of faith togeth­er with a small group of cli­ents, all tired of push­ing one mes­sage after the oth­er with no effect, and so the agency Spin Factory was born.

Learn more: The Pixar Pitch

Storytelling Technique 2: The Rebel Yell Statement

Billy Idol - The Rebel Yell Statement
The man, the myth, the rebel. (Credit: Wikimedia)
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Storytelling Technique: The Rebel Yell Statement

Copywriter Kevin Rogers pub­lished this simple yet effect­ive script to improve your storytelling, the Rebel Yell Statement, named after the legendary rock anthem by Billy Idol.

Here’s the Rebel Yell Statement script for you to try: 

My name is _​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​, I love _​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​ but was fed up with _​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​. So I cre­ated _​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​ that _________.

Here’s an example by Rogers on Steve Jobs:

My name is Steve, I love com­puters but was fed up with the snail’s pace of com­mer­cial tech­no­logy. So I cre­ated a user-friendly com­puter that pro­cesses inform­a­tion faster than any­thing else out there today.

Here’s the Rebel Yell Statement I wrote for this blog, Doctor Spin:

My name is Jerry, I love PR, but was fed up with “social media experts” giv­ing cli­ents bull­shit advice. So I cre­ated Doctor Spin to share action­able insights based on aca­dem­ic research, hands-on exper­i­ence, and passion.

Learn more: The Rebel Yell Statement

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Storytelling Technique 3: Corporate Storytelling Script

Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can­’t remem­ber who we are or why we’re here.”
— Sue Monk Kidd

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Storytelling: The Why Prompts

Enhance your PR mes­sage with storytelling. Craft com­pel­ling pub­lic rela­tions nar­rat­ives with these simple storytelling prompts.

Here are 20 “whys” that can serve as start­ing points for organ­iz­a­tions to uncov­er enga­ging and rel­ev­ant stories:

  • Why was the organ­isa­tion foun­ded? The story behind its incep­tion, the gap it aimed to fill, or the prob­lem it sought to solve.
  • Why did the founders choose this par­tic­u­lar mis­sion? Personal or pro­fes­sion­al exper­i­ences that led to estab­lish­ing the organ­iz­a­tion’s mission.
  • Why are the organ­iz­a­tion’s val­ues what they are? They are the prin­ciples that guide the organ­iz­a­tion’s oper­a­tions and decision-mak­ing processes.
  • Why do employ­ees feel proud to work here? Employee stor­ies of pride and fulfilment.
  • Why do cus­tom­ers choose us over com­pet­it­ors? Stories of cus­tom­er sat­is­fac­tion and loyalty.
  • Why do we pri­or­it­ize sus­tain­ab­il­ity? The organ­iz­a­tion’s com­mit­ment to envir­on­ment­al respons­ib­il­ity and the steps taken to achieve it.
  • Why do we invest in com­munity ini­ti­at­ives? Examples of com­munity engage­ment and the impact of these efforts.
  • Why is innov­a­tion a corner­stone of our strategy? Stories of innov­a­tion and how they have shaped the organization.
  • Why have we evolved our offer­ings over time? It is a jour­ney of growth and adapt­a­tion to chan­ging mar­ket demands.
  • Why do we adhere to spe­cif­ic eth­ic­al stand­ards? The import­ance of eth­ics and integ­rity in the organ­isa­tion’s operations.
  • Why have we taken a stand on spe­cif­ic social issues? The organ­isa­tion’s involve­ment in social causes and the reas­ons behind these choices.
  • Why do we pri­or­it­ise employ­ee devel­op­ment? The value placed on learn­ing and growth with­in the organisation.
  • Why have we expan­ded into new mar­kets? The stra­tegic decisions behind geo­graph­ic­al or product expansion.
  • Why do we focus on cus­tom­er exper­i­ence? Customer sat­is­fac­tion and ser­vice are import­ant in the organ­isa­tion’s philosophy.
  • Why do we choose cer­tain part­ner­ships and col­lab­or­a­tions? This sec­tion will dis­cuss the cri­ter­ia and stor­ies behind stra­tegic part­ner­ships and collaborations.
  • Why have we over­come par­tic­u­lar chal­lenges? Here are tales of resi­li­ence, over­com­ing adversity, and what was learned from those experiences.
  • Why do we invest in research and devel­op­ment? The role of innov­a­tion in driv­ing the organ­iz­a­tion forward.
  • Why is trans­par­ency import­ant to us? The sig­ni­fic­ance of open com­mu­nic­a­tion with stakeholders.
  • Why do we have a global/​local approach to our oper­a­tions? The rationale behind the scale of oper­a­tions and its impact.
  • Why do we believe our future will look a cer­tain way? Here are some vis­ions for the future and the steps to real­ising them.

These “whys” can lead to pro­found stor­ies that human­ise the organ­iz­a­tion, show­case its val­ues, and build a deep­er con­nec­tion with its audi­ence.

Please note. Once these stor­ies exist, who can tell them? These stor­ies can be immensely use­ful for cor­por­ate com­mu­nic­a­tion, but if all cowork­ers know these stor­ies, that is the most potent propagation.

Learn more: The Story First: Mapping Whys for Storytelling

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Storytelling Technique 4: The Lottery Question

Imagine your organ­isa­tion won the lot­tery; money is no longer a primary motivator. 

You and your co-work­ers are now taken care of fin­an­cially, and the brand has earned notori­ety by hav­ing the win­ning ticket. 

Taking money out of the equa­tion might seem coun­ter­in­tu­it­ive for a busi­ness. I’m all about the bot­tom line, too. Still, this is about how to improve your storytelling.

Here’s the Lottery Question script for you to try: 

With more money than you need in the bank, what would your com­pany do next? 

Here’s how I ima­gine this scen­ario for Spin Factory:

Great minds need time for reflec­tion to grow stronger and hap­pi­er, so we would have more vaca­tion time than the usu­al industry stand­ard.

Each week, we would set aside time to explore new aca­dem­ic research and inter­act with the sci­entif­ic com­munity on beha­vi­our­al research, human psy­cho­logy, and online mar­ket­ing.

I wouldn’t go out on a frantic hir­ing spree but rather invest heav­ily in the people we already have on board.

We would say no to work­ing with cli­ents if we don’t feel pas­sion­ate about their busi­ness object­ives.

Our kick­offs, con­fer­ences and team-build­ing travels would be so epic that it would be ridicu­lous.

We would do pro bono work for import­ant non-profits that oth­er­wise can’t afford our expert­ise.

Despite the suc­cess, we would still work hard because we con­sider hard work a vir­tue and a way of life.

As fol­lows:

What could you do to imple­ment your lot­tery ideas today — even without win­ning an actu­al lottery?

Storytelling Techniques for Public Relations

In pub­lic rela­tions, mas­ter­ing storytelling tech­niques is para­mount for pro­fes­sion­als seek­ing to effect­ively con­vey mes­sages and build mean­ing­ful con­nec­tions with their tar­get audi­ences.

Storytelling is a power­ful tool for craft­ing nar­rat­ives that res­on­ate with indi­vidu­als on an emo­tion­al level, cap­tur­ing their atten­tion and fos­ter­ing engagement. 

By har­ness­ing the prin­ciples of storytelling, pub­lic rela­tions pro­fes­sion­als can trans­form mundane inform­a­tion into com­pel­ling stor­ies that evoke empathy, under­stand­ing, and trust among stake­hold­ers, influ­en­cers, and pub­lics.

Moreover, nar­rat­ives can human­ise brands, mak­ing them relat­able and mem­or­able in the minds of con­sumers. As such, integ­rat­ing storytelling into pub­lic rela­tions strategies not only enhances brand per­cep­tion but also facil­it­ates the com­mu­nic­a­tion of key mes­sages in an authen­t­ic and impact­ful manner.

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Thanks for read­ing. Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing art­icles with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tions and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. You might also con­sider my PR ser­vices or speak­ing engage­ments.

PR Resource: PR Toolbox

Free Storytelling PR Course - Doctor Spin - Public Relations Blog
Free storytelling PR course.
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Doctor Spin’s PR School: Free Storytelling PR Course

Elevate your pub­lic rela­tions game with this free Storytelling PR Course. Learn essen­tial and time­less storytelling tech­niques for effect­ive communication.

Learn more: All Free PR Courses

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PR Resource: Ethos, Pathos, and Logos

Ethos Pathos Logos - Persuasion - Doctor Spin - The PR Blog
Classical per­sua­sion.
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Ethos, Pathos, and Logos: Three Classical Modes of Persuasion

Aristotle’s three modes of rhet­or­ic­al per­sua­sion are eth­os, pathos, and logos, which are based on mor­al com­pet­ence, emo­tion­al appeal, and reas­on.”
Source: Sino-US English Teaching 1Lin, W. (2019). Three Modes of Rhetorical Persuasion. Sino-US English Teaching. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​7​2​6​5​/​1​539 – 80722019.03.003

Ethos, pathos, and logos are three modes of per­sua­sion recog­nised since ancient Greece, and they play an essen­tial role in pub­lic relations. 

  • Ethos. This mode of per­sua­sion refers to the cred­ib­il­ity or eth­ic­al appeal of the com­mu­nic­at­or, which can be estab­lished through demon­strat­ing expert­ise, integ­rity, and goodwill.
  • Pathos. This mode of per­sua­sion per­tains to emo­tion­al appeal, which involves stir­ring the audience’s feel­ings to sway their opin­ions or actions.
  • Logos. This mode of per­sua­sion is the logic­al appeal, which relies on present­ing sound argu­ments and evid­ence to con­vince the audience.

In PR, these three modes of per­sua­sion are often com­bined to cre­ate com­pel­ling mes­sages that res­on­ate with the audi­ence on mul­tiple levels. 2Modes of per­sua­sion. (2023, September 27). In Wikipedia. https://​en​.wiki​pe​dia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​M​o​d​e​s​_​o​f​_​p​e​r​s​u​a​s​ion

By under­stand­ing and apply­ing the prin­ciples of eth­os, pathos, and logos, PR pro­fes­sion­als can craft mes­sages that res­on­ate deeply with their audi­ence, driv­ing action and fos­ter­ing last­ing relationships.

Learn more: Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in Public Relations

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PR Resource: Drafting

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Communication Skill: Drafting

Drafting, cre­at­ing, and refin­ing writ­ten doc­u­ments are fun­da­ment­al com­mu­nic­a­tion skills cru­cial in every­day life. From com­pos­ing emails and writ­ing reports to craft­ing per­son­al let­ters or social media posts, the abil­ity to draft and edit doc­u­ments ensures clar­ity, coher­ence, and effect­ive­ness in con­vey­ing messages. 

The first draft of any­thing is shit.”
— Ernest Hemingway

Many indi­vidu­als struggle with writ­ing not because they lack ideas but because they under­es­tim­ate the power of revi­sion. The ini­tial draft is rarely per­fect; it’s through revis­ing this draft — trans­form­ing it into a second, third, or even fourth draft — that one hones the mes­sage, sharpens the lan­guage, and strengthens the over­all communication. 

Developing a habit of draft­ing and edit­ing allows for explor­ing ideas, refin­ing thought, and elim­in­at­ing ambi­gu­ity, mak­ing the final product more impact­ful and under­stood by its inten­ded audience.

To become bet­ter at draft­ing, con­sider these five tips:

  • Embrace the pro­cess. Accept that draft­ing is a pro­cess that involves writ­ing, revis­it­ing, and revis­ing. Your first draft is just the begin­ning, not the end product.
  • Separate writ­ing from edit­ing. Allow your­self to write freely in the ini­tial draft without wor­ry­ing about per­fec­tion. Focus on get­ting your ideas down, then shift to edit­ing mode to refine your work.
  • Read aloud. Reading your draft aloud can help you catch errors, awk­ward phras­ing, and unclear areas. This prac­tice can also improve the rhythm and flow of your writing.
  • Seek feed­back. Don’t hes­it­ate to share your drafts with oth­ers. Feedback can provide new per­spect­ives and insights that you might have overlooked.
  • Use tools wisely. Use writ­ing and edit­ing tools (such as large lan­guage mod­els, gram­mar check­ers, or style guides) to help identi­fy areas for improve­ment. However, always apply your judg­ment to ensure sug­ges­tions align with your inten­ded mes­sage and voice.

Incorporating these strategies into your writ­ing routine can elev­ate your draft­ing skills, lead­ing to pre­cise, com­pel­ling, and effect­ive writ­ten com­mu­nic­a­tion in every aspect of your life.

Learn more: Communication Skills (That Everyone Should Learn)

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ANNOTATIONS
ANNOTATIONS
1 Lin, W. (2019). Three Modes of Rhetorical Persuasion. Sino-US English Teaching. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​7​2​6​5​/​1​539 – 80722019.03.003
2 Modes of per­sua­sion. (2023, September 27). In Wikipedia. https://​en​.wiki​pe​dia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​M​o​d​e​s​_​o​f​_​p​e​r​s​u​a​s​ion
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwerhttps://doctorspin.net/
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.
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