Tag Archives: marketing strategy

Striking Out ALS, One Ice Bucket at a Time

If you have logged into Facebook over the last couple of weeks, you most likely witnessed many of your peers dousing themselves in ice water in the name of charity. At the time of writing on August 22nd, this grassroots campaign known as The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge had raised $41.8 million dollars in donations for the ALS Association. As of August 26, the campaign has accumulated a whopping $88.5 million dollars total from existing donors and 1.9 million new donors.

The enormous surge in donations for what was once a largely overlooked cause is in part due to elevated exposure from celebrities, political figures and corporate executives worldwide. What is even more amazing is that the ALS Association had not planned this massive fundraising initiative. So how did the Ice Bucket Challenge campaign work and what did the ALS Association do right in order to capitalize on these past few weeks?

The story behind the Ice Bucket Challenge

The social explosion  began when former college baseball player Pete Frates, whose career in sports ended when he was diagnosed with ALS in 2012, posted a video to Facebook on July 31st calling on friends and public figures to take the Ice Bucket Challenge in an effort raise awareness and donations toward research for the disease.  A short 3 weeks later, the ALS Association has experienced an exponential increase in donations –  $88.5 million vs $2.5 million raised during the same period last year (July 29 – August 26).

The significance of the Ice Bucket Challenge

Communicators who are unsure of how to tell their corporate social responsibility stories more effectively can learn a few lessons from the ALS Association and the Ice Bucket Challenge. It’s no secret that many mistake corporate-charity partnerships as a shameless effort by for-profit businesses to generate positive publicity. What many fail to realize is illnesses that affect a smaller group of people tend to have smaller initiatives and fundraising efforts surrounding them. Therefore, the organizations dedicated to fighting these rarer illnesses have to use every opportunity they can to get the same attention that more common illnesses do.

If you haven’t already donated to #StrikeOutALS, follow the link to donate now: http://prn.to/IceBucketChallenge

Lessons for communicators

Here are the key takeaways from the Ice Bucket Challenge that communicators should make note of:

1. Use positivity to tell a powerful and emotionally compelling story

The effects of ALS are devastating and there is no known cure, but the Ice Bucket Challenge shed light on the issue by combining humor and compassion to get people to pay attention. ALS patient Anthony Carbajal recently made headlines for his Ice Bucket Challenge video, which told the emotional personal story of being diagnosed with the disease at age 26 and how its hereditary nature has affected his family for generations.

With regards to the previous lack of attention surrounding ALS, Carbajal said, “Nobody wants to see a depressing person that’s dying and has two to five years to live. They don’t want to talk about it, they don’t want their day ruined.” Carbajal sums up a heartbreaking reality for many people and organizations who are trying to raise awareness for certain causes, and illustrates why the Ice Bucket Challenge is so important.

2. Know your social audience and what platforms will work best

One of the biggest reasons why this grassroots campaign proved so successful was the social media component. Most of the videos were housed and shared on Facebook, and there are several reasons why this was the best social channel to showcase the ice bucket challenge.

  • First, Facebook’s auto-play video platform meant that users scrolling through their newsfeeds didn’t even have to hit the play button to view the Ice Bucket Challenge videos that were shared, a key feature for grabbing attentions and piquing viewer interests.
  • Secondly, even though Twitter’s Vine videos also contain an auto-play feature, Facebook videos have no time limit. Challengers were able to nominate as many people as they wanted without having to race against the clock, proving that elongated content formats are still quite relevant.
  • Finally, when nominees were tagged in the videos, it appeared on their respective profiles seeding further awareness among their network of friends and family.

However, relying on social channels to power the campaign leaves important publicity on the table.  Even though the Ice Bucket campaign developed organically on social media and amassed an astonishing amount of media attention, the ALS Association has also capitalized on the visibility generated online, using paid distribution via press releases to continue seeding awareness around the issue and supplying the media with newsworthy information and data points such as the growing number of donations the organization has received thus far.

PR Newswire’s Support of ALS

Congratulations to our client, the ALS Association, on their tremendous success these past few weeks. As this campaign has spread like wildfire, PR Newswire employees from across the country stepped up to the challenge including Ken Wincko, SVP of Marketing, who graciously accepted the nomination from our friends at CommPro.biz. We’re proud to support such a worthy cause and be part of the fight to help strike out ALS!

For more on how the ALS Association turned a grassroots effort into a fundraising machine, read “The 3 Tactical Elements That Made the “Ice Bucket Challenge” a Viral Success”: http://prn.to/1vNqNhK

Co-authored by: 

ShannonShannon Ramlochan, PR Newswire’s Content Marketing Coordinator

 

 

Danielle croppedDanielle Ferris is a member of PR Newswire’s marketing team.

 

Mapping Communications Strategies to Resonate with the New Buyer

CU-N-CO 2.1.1 Buyer's Journey

Source: Forrester Research Inc.

One piece of content is not all encompassing for the vast and complex audience that makes up your target consumer base. Each stage of the buyer’s journey is comprised of unique personas and levels of expertise that are in search of information catered to their specific needs. For example, if your products are geared toward B2B customers, the CEO of a company might not find the same value in the introductory information that a junior level staffer might need to advance their skill set. For B2C companies, the gap is even wider if you think about the mix of demographics that your products or services might be relevant to. Would a college student doing laundry for the first time respond the same way to an ad for detergent that was geared towards new parents?

Consider that each persona will also be in search of information relevant to where they are in the buyer’s journey. Most of us rely on peer recommendations and online reviews to give us an honest critique of what to expect in a product or service, but not everyone who is researching information is ready to make a purchase. For the product researchers who might be skeptical or simply curious, your content needs to persuade that potential customer to take the next logical step towards a purchase.

Mapping Comms Strategies to Resonate with New BuyerOur free on-demand webinar Mapping Communications Strategies to Resonate with the New Buyer  delves into how content marketers can plan and create content to meet the specific needs of their target audiences. Presentations by Adam B. Needles, chief strategy officer and principal at Annuitas, and Ken Wincko, senior vice president of marketing at PR Newswire, cover topics including:

  • How to influence behavior through authentic and transparent content
  • The evolution of earned media, and how to harness it
  • The role of distribution as the missing link to any content plan

Follow the link to view the on-demand webinar now:  http://prn.to/NewBuyerWebinar

The Q&A Team: The Benefits of Event Sponsorships for Businesses and Non-Profits

Events are a primary method for nonprofits to raise money for the causes that mean the most to their organizations while forming strong personal bonds with their donor base. However, event space, refreshments, tables, and equipment are pricey, so having a corporate sponsor helps nonprofits reduce their costs while allocating the maximum amount of funds raised towards their cause.

For businesses, event sponsorships are an opportunity to personally engage with customers and establish a long-lasting, positive brand impression. Therefore, non-profits and businesses can form mutually beneficial relationships by combining their respective strengths and hosting events.To help connect non-profits and businesses in search of event sponsorships with each other, Lemuel White and Mickey Lukens created an easy-to-use and resource-efficient platform called SponsorMatch. The pair loaned their expertise to the ProfNet Q&A team and offered sound advice on how businesses and non-profits can launch successful sponsored events.

How can a business decide what event sponsorship will work best for them?

Marketing managers must ask themselves if the prospective event aligns with their overall business goals. Think about whether it reinforces the right experience for their target customer and if it will produce the greatest return on investment.

Is there a limit to the number of events a business should sponsor?

Not at all! However, as with any advertising effort, businesses should assess if the long-term return on investment, such as new customer gains, is greater than the cost of sponsorship.

What channels should you use to promote an event sponsorship?

One of the most successful and cost-effective methods of promoting an event is through a well-planned social media strategy. But depending on the business, event being sponsored, and customer being reached, promotion through a diverse combination of mediums and digital platforms is best.

How should a business handle an event sponsorship that ends up being a conflict of interest?

A thorough investigation of the proposed sponsorship and background of the organization can prevent a conflict of interest before it occurs. However, if an issue arises that could not be mitigated, businesses should collaborate with the organization to minimize any aspect of the event associated with the conflict that might negatively impact the customer. In extreme cases, company leadership should be as transparent with customers as possible by acknowledging the issue and responding accordingly to keep from alienating trust.

What are the typical processes and challenges for nonprofit organizations in search of sponsorships for their event?

One of the greatest challenges for nonprofits is effectively communicating the right information to businesses that will lead to a partnership. With the exception of very large nonprofits, most small to medium nonprofits spend hours cold calling businesses in hopes of forming a partnership. The entire process is very informal and problematic for event organizers who must locate marketing decision makers, pitch their event and levels of sponsorship, and convince the business that their investment would benefit their target consumer. When reaching out to potential partners, nonprofits must come prepared with detailed information on who their members are such as where they are from, where they live, how much income they make, and other relevant demographics.

How can using SponsorMatch connect businesses with nonprofits?

SponsorMatch works by matching the needs of nonprofit events to the goals of businesses. Similar to online dating sites, nonprofits and businesses will be able to see exactly what each side is looking for and only reach out when those needs match. Nonprofits will be able to easily divide their event into levels of sponsorship. Businesses will be able to see all the details of any given event and select what level they are willing to support, at what cost, and what exposure they will receive. The platform will even notify both nonprofits and businesses automatically if it believes there’s a possible match. Overall, SponsorMatch saves valuable time and resources for both the nonprofit and business by holdng all of their partnership assets, communication, and details in one place

How do you see event sponsorships changing for nonprofits and businesses in the future?

Technology has created more channels for individuals to learn about the businesses they purchase from, and customers are placing a high value on the social contributions of those businesses. In the future, businesses will continue to incorporate more socially responsible partnerships to help their communities while elevating their own brands. Technology will also allow nonprofits to change not only the way sponsorships are conducted, but also how members are found, donors are retained, and visions are fulfilled on a worldwide scale.

polina opelbaumWritten by Polina Opelbaum, editor of ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. To read more from Polina, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.

The Future of Sponsored Content: 3 Scenarios for Success

According to this study, audiences are as likely to read sponsored content as they are to read editorial content.

According to this study, audiences are as likely to read sponsored content as they are to read editorial content.

Sponsored content appears to be undergoing a renaissance. Called native advertising, brand journalism, or whatever, it is back in the conversation for marketers and PR professionals.

Sponsored content is decades old, it’s just the tactics that are changing. lil tweet In the past, sponsored content may have taken the form of advertising sections in newspapers, infomercials on TV or custom publishing.  But with new names, new advocates and new tactics, we are going to see and hear a lot more about sponsored content in the near future. Will it stick? Will it become an increasingly important part of marketing? Or will it go the way of banner ads, a bandwagon everyone jumped on then decided it didn’t work?

At the heart of the issue is how marketing and advertising transitions from traditional outlets to digital outlets. While that migration, from print and broadcast to the Web happened, it didn’t happen at the revenue level the media wanted and it didn’t produce the response the advertiser wanted. Though one may question whether the widespread perception that the value of traditional forms of marketing and advertising has declined is a really a function of better measurement tools. Has the value declined or has it been meager all along and we just needed better visibility to realize it?

Native advertising is the latest handshake agreement between publishers, who need money, and content providers, who need visibility. The publisher offers access to its audience, the content provider pays for it and they both agree that the stuff won’t look too bad, won’t be blatantly commercial and will somehow fit with the other content. The party that is not privy to this handshake, though, is the reader and it is the audience that eventually will decide whether the sponsored content is welcome, whether they want to see it, or whether it is too blatantly commercial.

Publishers pursuing this path tend to be a little queasy about it. So you see pronouncements about how vigilant they are going to be in labeling sponsored content as just that. But in fact there is a prevailing air of deception about many forms of sponsored content. Ask for a definition of native advertising and you’ll usually hear something about how it is commercial content that looks like the “native” content of the outlet where it is published. What really matters though is not the look but whether the sponsored content is of the same level of interest to the outlet’s reader as its own originated content.

What sponsored content and display have in common is that they are both dependent on what I referred to in a previous blog post as “diverted eyeballs.” The reader isn’t looking for your content, he or she is looking for something else and by placing your content (or display ad) next to that something else, you are hoping that the readers’ eyeball get diverted to your content. I think this is an approach which is on the decline as most media properties are seeing their traffic coming more from search or social referrals rather than visitors browsing their site as a destination.

So who will be successful with the new wave of sponsored content and how do you put yourself among the winners? The simple answer, oft repeated as it is, is to create great content and put it on great sites. Sounds good but, sorry Google, the Web is full of great content on great sites that nobody ever sees.

Here are the three scenarios which I see as potentially successful for sponsored content.

  1.  As with all communications activity there will be an elite group that produces excellent content and buys space for it on premium properties. They will be the role models that all the advocates for sponsored content will point to. But as role models they will be deceptive because they will most likely represent a brand whose status and visibility is well beyond that of most and they will also likely have made an investment in the production and placement of content that is beyond the means of the average brand. If Apple for example could achieve success by placing content on the Wall Street Journal that’s all well and nice but doesn’t mean a thing for the rest of  us.
  2.  I think there is a real opportunity for sponsored content to be successful on niche media properties that have cultivated a very specialized audience. For example, you are likely to find a much, much larger audience on a consumer travel site than you are on a trade site about utilities. But how many travel sites are there? Tens of thousands? The utility news site might be lightly trafficked but it also might be the go to resource for the very limited audience that is interested. That audience will likely include individuals at utilities who make buying decisions so if you happen to be in that business, that’s your customers. Good content about changing technology in energy generation or the impact of government regulation is going to play really well on the site.
  3. Content providers who are experts at marketing their content, using search, social, distribution and media to drive traffic to the content. These folks may not really need to buy placement to drive an audience to their content but there are some advantages to the third party placement that will supplement the content providers own promotion efforts. For one thing, the media site that the content is placed on may have a better search ranking than the provider’s owned media properties, thus may bring in more search traffic. The domain name of the publication may be an advantage since it is likely to be perceived as a more authoritative source. And the media property may supplement your content marketing with its own efforts to drive traffic to its site. (Related reading:  Driving Content Discovery)

Sponsored content is not going to be the savior of media outlets trying to recover lost revenue. Nor will it to any large extent retire more traditional marketing and advertising activities. But under the right circumstances, it can be a pretty successful tactic.

Follow author Ken Dowell on Twitter at @kdowell.

Q&A: How to Incorporate Tumblr Into Your Marketing Campaigns

Dear Q&A Team,

My manager has assigned me the job of looking into new social media platforms that we can add to our marketing campaigns. I have been trying to learn about Tumblr and its capabilities. What type of content should we post onto Tumblr? What are some examples of successful Tumblr accounts run by businesses? Are there any legal issues we should be aware of when using Tumblr?

Stumbled Upon Tumblr

_____________________

Dear Stumbled Upon Tumblr,

It’s great that you are exploring other social media platforms. Here are three ProfNet experts who provide their expertise about Tumblr:

Reasons to Use Tumblr

Web marketing expert Lorrie Thomas Ross explains, “If an organization is looking to maximize awareness, information distribution, connections and service to support sales, then social media marketing needs to be part of the marketing mix. Tumblr is a blog platform that can help organizations harness the power of social media marketing.”

Christopher Penn, vice president of marketing technology for Shift Communications, agrees: “Tumbler is a rich content outpost, another blogging service that offers you an additional place to put content on the Web. Tumblr’s strength is its tremendous and active community that often re-blogs items that are worthy of attention and interest.”

Penn adds, “Tumblr’s secondary strength, especially for technologically less ambitious PR practitioners, is that it’s incredibly easy to use and quick to set up. You can begin on Tumblr in a matter of minutes, and its mobile apps make content creation simple and friendly.”

In addition, “platforms like Tumblr can be a great way to boost SEO,” says Ross. “Tumblr was architected to be search-friendly and help search visibility, so, if used effectively, it can help with a business’ SEO.”

However, you may want to disqualify Tumblr as a marketing medium if your company’s tolerance for risk is exceptionally low. It has an active adult content community, and many of its members enjoy blogging and re-blogging content they find, explains Penn. “For most brands, it shouldn’t be a significant problem — obscurity is a far greater risk than being discovered and re-blogged by someone whose content you might not agree with.”

Content to Include in Your Account

“People flock to Tumblr to be entertained and inspired, not to be pitched to,” says Francis Skipper, executive vice president of 451 Marketing. “Therefore, it is key to be very visual and to use humor on Tumblr. Pieces should be easy for your audience to digest and promote sharing. And try to provide evergreen content that will have a longer shelf life, so your content can be shared often.”

“Tumblr is also a great way to create a very human side of a brand by giving insights into the people and ideas behind your company,“ he adds.

Even though content needs to be engaging, it is important to remember that every organization has a different target audience. This is why it all starts with strategy – strategy first and execution second.

Ross suggests that marketing managers think about the content they have, their target audience, and what their target audience needs. Then they can decide what to post on Tumblr.

Once marketing managers are ready for the execution stage, it is important to know that the best content on Tumblr is graphical content — static images, graphics, animations, and video, says Penn.

Successful Examples

  • Comedy Central: This page is authentic, integrated and engaging. It supports the overall brand’s purpose. The purpose is very clear — to create viral clips, awareness and an audience.  –Ross
  • Capital One’s Bucket List and Art Institute of Technology:  Tumblr is a highly visual medium, and both these blogs maximize their use of imagery to make them eye-catching and appealing. –Penn
  • CNET:  They have been really smart about Tumblr posts, releasing “cliff notes” or abbreviated versions of their articles. They create a visual, multimedia headline that prompts the reader to click through to the full content on their site. -Skipper
  • General Mills: Their Tumblr focuses on whimsical content that taps into people’s inner child and even showcases some amazing DIY arts and crafts projects that were created from cereal boxes with tutorials. They create a fun lifestyle around their brands using Tumblr. –Skipper

Legal Issues & Tips

“As with any form of online content production, you will be held liable for intellectual property (IP) rights. Re-blogging something that falls afoul of IP rights can land you in serious, very hot water,” warns Penn. “For example, re-using an image from a licensed imaging service like Getty Images can cost you up to $60,000 per violation, even if the original content is not yours. By re-blogging it, you open yourself to the same liability as the creator.”

Also, remember to respect the FTC guidelines, says Ross. You can read more about them here: tinyurl.com/nxvvszl

Another thing to keep in mind is that companies need to commit to using Tumblr.

“Tools like Tumblr don’t make marketing magic,” cautions Ross. “It is how and why these tools are used that make marketing magic.”

Skipper reiterates Ross’ last statement: “First, have specific goals in mind before you start. Don’t just join Tumblr because ‘everyone else’ is doing it.” Some of these goals include: building brand awareness and identity, educating customers, and creating a brand persona.”

Last but not least, Penn cautions that “‘build it and they will come’ doesn’t work any better on Tumblr than it does on the Web. You still have to invest resources in outreach, awareness, advertising, and support of your initiatives there in order to make it successful.”

After deciding your Tumblr strategy with your company, I hope you have fun posting to this social media platform! Enjoy!

-The Q&A Team

Written by Polina Opelbaum, editor of ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. To read more from Polina, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.

Market Your Marketing

cmscribblesContent Marketing World kicked off this  morning with Jay Baer (@jaybaer), author of Youtility.  The top-rated speaker of CMW last year, Jay didn’t disappoint today.

Echoing the themes of his book, Jay insisted that the best marketing content is that which is so good people would pay for it.  However, the conversation took an intersting turn when Jay started to talk about promoting the content your brand publishes.

Content is crucial to buying decisions – the number of sources buyers rely upon has almost doubled over the last year. And according to Google, B2B buyers routinely complete 70% of their research before talking to a vendor rep.

Everyone is talking about content promotion at #CMWorld 13

Everyone is talking about content promotion at #CMWorld 13

Publishing isn’t enough

But publishing content isn’t enough.   Jay noted that the convergence of our personal and commercial lives means that marketers are competing against friends, family and cat videos for audience attention.

Wednesday at Content Marketing World – learn to drive discovery of YOUR content 

One way Jay suggests that brands create visibility for their content is to “make the story bigger” than just your products or services. Solve problems in your customers’ lives, not just around what you sell.

However, being dead useful to your audience is just part of the equation.  Driving discovery of your content is crucial too.

Marketing your messaging 

“Market your marketing, ” Jay encouraged the assembled faithul. “Put some effort behind it.  Advertising isn’t the competition – it’s an enabler.”

Both paid and social media should be part of the plan.

Social media:  Content is fire, says Jay.  And social media is gasoline. However, don’t make the mistake of treating tweets like the world’s shortest press releases.  Social posts still need to be useful.

Paid media: Advertising campaigns and PR can fuel significant visibility for the content your brand produces.  You may even earn some media along the way, which will launch your content into a different stratosphere.

Tomorrow at Content Marketing World I’ll be presenting on driving content discovery,  in a session titled “10 Online Discovery Tips that Will Get Your Content Promoted.

I’ll be offering 19 (instead of the previously advertised 10) ways to build an element of discovery into your content strategy, and to promote the discovery of the information your brand publishes.  Here’s a sneak peek:

CMW session snippet

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the e-books Unlocking Social Media for PR and the newly-published  New School Press Release Tactics.  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

 

Storytelling: Persuasion That Moves & Engages

Last week, PR Newswire and CommPRO.biz hosted the second part of the Google+ Hangout On Air Storytelling Series. The discussion was led by Michael Pranikoff (@mpranikoff), global director of emerging media at PR Newswire. Ginny Pulos (@ginnypulos), founder and president of Ginny Pulos Communications, joined him to explain the results of successful storytelling for a business.

Pranikoff presented the following questions to Pulos:

Q: Why is storytelling so important on a personal and business basis?

Pulos: It is important for when you want to land/keep/move ahead with a job or client as well as when you want to be a persuader or leader. Storytelling is the most persuasive tool you can use, especially when you are in the same room as another party breathing the same air. Also, if you are a leader of an organization, you need to tell stories to motivate, inspire, and engage people. It is true stories that move people to act. It’s a sell.

Also, storytelling is really an untapped resource. We are all telling stories every day, but we just don’t know how to tell them as effectively as we could.

Q: What is the difference between position power vs. personal power?

Pulos: Position power is your title and all the privileges that are accorded to you because of your title. But how many people outside of the narrow definition of their job are able to tap into their personal power to move and persuade people? People have this unwritten taboo in corporations that you should not talk about anything personal, and that your personal life is personal and your professional life is public. But that is absolutely not true. It is the personal stories that we have inside us that are the things that drive business forward. We need to know how and when to tell stories, as well as how to tell them effectively.

Q: What is the difference between power and persuasion vs. influence?

Pulos: It is not your title, degree or expertise by which people listen to you, but it is because of who you are. Power is by right or by might — that is your title. Persuasion is twisting your arm gently or perhaps not so gently. Influence in the worst sense is manipulation, and in the best sense it is like all the heavenly choirs are singing your praises and the pearly gates open, and you walk in with a halo on your head. But we really need to use all three.

Q: Why is it important for people to tell their story in personal and business situations?

Pulos: We have established grooves in our brain that go back to our earliest times when our parents would read us stories, and those stories would begin with “once upon a time” and end with “happily ever after.” Those grooves are deeply entrenched. Sending communication down grooves in our brain that are already established makes it so much easier for people to take in. Also, stories have the capability of creating pictures for people, and those things stay with us and can easily be recalled. That is why, for me, stories are so powerful.

Q: What are some of the elements of a great story?

Pulos: A great story must include the following: 1) be brief, which means five minutes or less; 2) true; 3) about a person; 4) engage an emotion, and this can be done by slipping into present tense while telling the story; 5) end on a high note; 5) a little bit acted out.

Q: Can you tell us about someone who is a really great storyteller?

Pulos: The person I followed for many years was Steve Jobs, the CEO of the decade who transformed all kinds of businesses. The best story he ever told in business was when he introduced the iPhone and he said it was “having your life in your pocket.” It is only five words but it tells so much. His stories that I liked the best weren’t direct selling of a product, but were still driving business goals. My favorite was his commencement speech at Stanford. During his speech, he told just three stories. He was not very good at delivering, because he looked down, read from something, and spoke in past vs. present tense. However, he had a great moral in his stores, which was he trusted that everything would work out in the end. Many great stories lack a moral — the “what did I learn from it” or “how did that change my life ever after.”

Here is a little exercise you can use to start mining your own stories. Make four columns. In the first column put rites of passage (birth, death, graduation, divorces, achievements, defeats, etc.) and in the second column you briefly write out what happened. In the third column you will write how old you were when it happened, and in the last column you write what you learned from it. The last column is where the power lies in storytelling.

Q: Do you have examples of people who aren’t famous or CEOs who have developed great stories to help their business within their company, or just to help their business grow as a whole?

Pulos: One senior VP in human resources told a story about being a really tall gal and playing basketball in college. Everyone thought that because of her height she would be a great forward, but she hated using her elbows, etc., but one thing she was naturally flawless at was making free throws. She made the moral of her story that people are who they are and they should play to their strengths.

Another example I have is of a global marketer that I spoke to who is from China. She talked about the hardship she grew up in during the Cultural Revolution. Her father had been a teacher and they fled to the countryside. At four years of age she was left alone to take care of her infant brother. She had to find firewood and cook a meal every day. After the Cultural Revolution ended, they moved to a city and her father opened a school. Every morning she got up at four in the morning and bought food for all the children before she went to school. She made the moral of her story that life is like a delicious meal, and you have to use everything and every bit of your time.

Q: What are some of the bigger things people need to remember when they are preparing and telling their stories?

Pulos: You need to write out your story. You also need to know your opening and closing cold, so it comes out completely conversational. You then to memorize transitional phrases that get you from one part of your story to another part of your story. Remember that stories that have twists and turns, so you may heighten and mute things in your story for different audiences. One, two, or three good stories can get you a long way. Saying your stories out loud so you can hear your voice is important too.

Another thing to keep in mind is when you tell stories a lot you can reduce it to a “vignette.” If you are at a networking conference talking to someone who is unemployed and going through difficult times, you can tell them your short story, and if they want to know more they they will ask. Stories don’t have to be long, but they can be very short and humorous.

Q: How would you apply storytelling to drive business forward? How would you this to change mindsets or status quo?

Pulos: You have to look inside yourself and find that story of how you want to shake things up, and how something changed your mind about something big. It doesn’t matter when it happened, but it is the moral of the story that drives business goals. The best presentations I have seen are the ones that start with a great story and then circle back to that story in the end, because now you know why they told it in the beginning. This is really powerful in a business situation.

Q: What are some of your key takeaways?

Pulos: You need to tell a story when you are in the spotlight; when you can help, encourage, engage, teach or move someone; need to show what you stand for; overcome a sense of defeat. You are the hero of your own story. If you have no emotional contact, you will have no impact. Storytelling is an untapped resource. If you are proud of your work, life or team then talk about it!

Q: How do you assess your personal brand to use it in your storytelling?

Pulos: Here are the key things you can ask to figure out your brand: 1) What do you know me for? 2) What do you like me for? 3) What do you value me for? You ask these three questions of a boss, colleague on your same level, people who report to you, spouse/significant other, family member, or a good friend. They can respond to these questions with phrases. You can then lay out all these responses on a table and circle the words used more than once. Those circled words are key traits about you. If you don’t know the story behind the word then go back to those people and ask why they used that particular word, and they will tell you that story. It is up to you to perfect that story.

Q: How do you know if your story is good, strong enough to support your case?

Pulos: When I am formulating a story, what I do is tell it to a couple of close friends. You also really have to practice telling the story, because this isn’t something that will be achieved overnight. And keep the ideas that come to you on a notepad, so you don’t lose them. People that can communicate and connect are the people that get ahead.

Q: What if people don’t response to your story? How do you reel them in at the last chance?

Pulos: If people aren’t responding to your story then you have probably chosen the wrong time to tell it or don’t have the right story. If you have a moral to your story, then you can grab people at the last minute. There is something wrong with the way you structured the story if they aren’t hanging with you till the end.

Q: How can storytelling be utilized in the written word?

Pulos: I try to use a story in every blog post. The facts and statistics supported through a story can really come alive. I feel that writing is becoming a lot more conversational, especially because of social media. Nothing is more engaging then positive, genuine emotion. It is the most powerful and constructive force for persuasion.

We’ve been emphasizing storytelling tactics on the blog over the last few months.  If you missed the other storytelling posts, here’s a link to the full collection: http://blog.prnewswire.com/tag/storytelling/ 

If you’d like to explore new ways to tell your brand’s visual story, we’d be happy to chat with you about creating a video or a designing multimedia distribution strategy that will increase discovery of your brand’s messages. We’d love to hear your ideas, and help turn them into reality. Contact us for more information.

Written by Polina Opelbaum, editor of ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. To read more from Polina, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.