Tuesday Tip: Nothing Beats a Good Story – by Dan Tapper

There are several unabashed Game of Thrones fans here at SLPR. And like millions of others, we tuned in Sunday night to see the much-anticipated grand finale episode to see how it would all wrap up, and to see what became of Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister and the Stark sisters, Sansa and Arya.

And right at the heart of the 80-minute finale came a speech from Tyrion—the cynical but wise “Imp of Westeros”—that struck us all as public relations professionals. As Tyrion pleads his case to choose the right new king to lead the world, he says:

“What unites people? Armies? Gold? Flags? Stories. There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story.”

Amen, Tyrion. You are now ready for a career in public relations.

In the PR world, there is nothing more core to the work we do than telling stories. Simply put, for success in our world, nothing beats a story that is well and truthfully told.

For our clients of more than three decades, stories define them, stories drive them forward, stories allow them to let the world know who they are—on their own terms—and the value they bring. You just have to find them, hone them and position them in a way that moves the ball forward for the client in the public eye.

Here’s an example. We had a client a few years back that ran day care centers throughout Connecticut, and they were very pleased with a new cutting-edge machine they had that could sterilize everything in sight—from stuffed animals to laptops to everything in between—without any muss or fuss. It was a welcome alternative to dousing everything with disinfectant over and over again. Obviously in the child care world, creating a clean, germ-free environment is paramount.

But the problem, they thought, was would anybody care? It was just a large, nondescript grey machine that looked like an industrial refrigerator. Nothing flashy or attractive about it. Who in the public would care?

A lot of people, including the media—that’s what we advised them. Because this large, seemingly innocuous machine told a great story, and it was a story all about this day care center.

It was a story of innovation, of finding a way to take one of the most important aspects of child care centers—cleanliness—and make it better. It was a story of uniqueness—this was a technology that very few, if any, other child care centers in the area were using. And it was a story of care—the investment in this new machine showed exactly how dedicated this center was to all the young children and families they served, to keeping the kids safe and healthy.

So. Take one part brand-new technology, add uniqueness, sprinkle in an innovative safety measure, and throw in a dash of healthy young children and parents with the peace of mind in knowing their kids are getting the best, and you have the recipe for a great story. “Let’s tell it!” we advised the client.

So we did. We pitched the story to a television reporter in the area who loves outside-the-box human interest angles. He liked it and spent a couple of hours with our client, checking out the machine and examining all it could do to make things better. And he produced a news segment that was several minutes long and told the story of just how innovative and committed to their clients this place was. It was a big success all around.

Public relations isn’t always about flash and sizzle; often times it’s about framing something of public importance in just the right way to make it understandable, informative and, yes, enjoyable. What we have learned from years of doing this is there is almost always a good story to tell; sometimes it’s easy to find, sometimes it’s less obvious. But it’s there more often than not—it just takes the time to surface it and then to find the right way to tell it.

“There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story.” Tyrion Lannister was 100% right (for once). Who knew in addition to everything else, Game of Thrones had such an acute awareness of what makes for good public relations?

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