Build a storytelling department

373549420_e5573e2f92 I am a PR person by education, thrown into numerous marketing communications jobs, learning advertising and CRM on the fly. In the beginning, I wanted my job responsibilities to be back and white, but I found myself operating in a gray area and juggling many different hats. In the background, I explored my other passion for writing; dabbling in screenplays, short stories, and penning my first full length novel. A combination of maturity and social media influence has altered my view and broken down barriers. No longer do I silo my personality and passions. I am a communicator. More than that…I am a story teller. I am finally whole.

As any good storyteller will tell you, it pays to do your research. Indirect facts add to the detail and credibility of the story. Going a bit further with the detail builds an epic. So, it should come as no surprise that I have added to my communications arsenal my infatuation with data mining and active listening. For years, I have fought against surveys retaining only top-of-mind data. Strategies should not be based solely upon results of one survey. A huge pet peeve. However, the response from others has typically been that survey data was the only thing credible and my feedback was not appreciated.

Reading the recent Bulldog Reporter article, Selling to Our Senses: Marketing Guru Lindstrom Shares “Buyology” Lessons for PR, had me jumping up and down for joy! Validation!

“The biggest lie about why we buy is that what people believe motivates them and what really motivates them—their senses—are totally opposite,” says marketing expert Martin Lindstrom, whose new book “Buyology” highlights the findings of a study scanning the brains of over 2000 consumers using neuro-imaging technologies as they were exposed to various marketing and advertising strategies, including product placements, subliminal messaging, iconic brand logos, product packaging and PR messaging.

From a PR point of view, he says, “This is interesting because what it means is that what we learn from surveying people about the image of a company or product can’t be used at all. We have built an entire marketing, advertising and PR industry around asking people to answer questions to understand what their perceptions are—only to discover that perception lies deeper in the inner mind.” The upshot: Current research methodologies pegged to consumer perception are broken—despite the millions spent digging for magic consumer “hot buttons” and “buy triggers.”

This article/interview is full of brilliant tidbits of information for communicators who want to hone their skills and start breaking down self-imposed barriers.

  • Indirect signals are more powerful than direct signals in driving perception and purchasing behaviors
  • Do not compare your PR work with advertising – one should position oneself as the third party voice talking about and endorsing a brand or product
  • Influence the unconscious mind through indirect communication versus direct – do not appeal to rational mind
  • Be able to identify DNA of brand even when signals and messages are separated out
  • Storytelling is is hardwired in humanity and it is a core of the PR practice – not repetition

Interestingly enough, the article ends with the statement that PR should be rebranded. I will save this issue for another post. Personally, I think the above statements are not new, but are finally getting some mainstream play. Finally, we have science on our side.

(Photo courtesy Mike Grenville.)

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  • James Sinkinson

    Lauren, thanks for your review of the “Buyology” article—I agree that it’s implications are simple, yet profound for PR pros. Your readers may want to note that this piece appeared in Bulldog Reporter’s Daily ‘Dog, one of many information services under the venerable Bulldog Reporter brand.