How to Effectively Tell Brand Stories


On Tuesday this week I interviewed David Berkowitz, CMO of MRY and ADAge columnist, about the concept of story-making in contrast to storytelling.

We have all had the notion of storytelling thrust down out throats for decades.  And as PR pros we are expected to be the brand storytellers.  The problem is that now that we  are doing business in the era of two-way communication, telling stories in a broadcast fashion no longer works.

In fact, since we first started to tell stories around a camp-fire the value of the story was the reaction from the audience.  There is nothing worse than someone who loves the sound of their own voice.  Boring storytellers who get little audience response or allow no audience participation soon find themselves without an audience at all.


Your online audience can find other stories to entertain them in just one click.  If you don’t grab their interest and engage them, they’ll be gone before you can say “brand story.”


Enter the idea of story making, which includes your audience and asks them to participate and contribute to the story – they add their experiences to the story and share it with their friends.

Here are some of David’s tips for getting an audience involved in story making:

1. Audience participation:  A story that’s created with the brands’ fans and followers allows the audience to participate and add to the story.  Story making requires some effort on the part of the audience. Use technology to provide the tools that make it easy to participate and share their own stories.  Allow them to create on their own channels.

2. Fan-inspired: Stories that come out of conversations or issues that are already in the lexicon of your audience have the best chance of success. How do you find those ideas?  Listen. Tap into the social conversation around your brand and listen for the issues, ideas  being discussed and the problems your brand solves. Tools like Sendible can help you with this.

3. Decentralized distribution: Brand storytelling often aims to contain the content where it can be controlled. Story-making allows the content to roam free across social media. Give the audience free rein to create, post and share their stories on their own channels. Then you can bring all those stories back to your website or newsroom.  Curate the best content via hashtags with a cool tool like  Feature your advaocates and evangelists and share their stories.

4.  Be authentic:  The clearest indicator that a brand story is being controlled is that every story is a glowing endorsement. When you set the story free and give the power to the customers, be prepared for the fact that you can’t please all the people all the time. That’s life. You can be proactive in connecting with your customers – reach out and ask them for feedback. Then use that feedback to course-correct if there are any genuine issues.  And encourage the customers with great stories to post them online.  Make it easy to do so – give them tools to help them create a memorable brand story of their own.

You can access the recording of this hour-long conversation with David Berkowitz at the Digital PR Channel

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