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Why Being Human Is the Key Ingredient to Storytelling

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Guest Blogger: Janet Diane WhiteStudent @ Syracuse University

Spotlight on Syracuse Student, Janet White: Syracuse University and PAN Communications continue to partner and support each other and the growth of the PR industry. President and CEO of PAN Communications, Phil Nardone, has been an adjunct at the Newhouse School’s public relations department at SU for more than 15 years. In addition, the PANportal is an ePortfolio offered to Syracuse graduates. PAN is proud to feature the following Syracuse student guest post:

Your How-to Guide to Crafting the Perfect Narrative Story Using Social Listening 

Working as a public relations professional is never easy, but it can be rewarding. Over the years I have had the opportunity to work with, talk to, watch and study numerous communications professionals. What did they all have in common? They all had their own story to tell. Why should you care? All their stories, told from experiences, have helped me maneuver through what could be an unforgiving industry.

With that in mind, remember times have changed, and forging ahead through the noise is harder than ever before. In the article “Inspiring and Motivating the Empowered Patient,” PAN’s Dan Martin mentions something worth keeping in mind before beginning any story. “Be mindful that your story should be unique and compelling, and that your messaging supports your overall brand identity – now and into the future.”

This post explores three key strategies to telling a successful story — make it human, keep it clear and concise, and listen to criticism. Before starting to tell even the simplest story you must know your audience and end goal.

1. Make it Human

In “Why Every Business Needs Powerful Storytelling To Grow,” Celinne Da Costa says: “Long-term brand loyalty is created by businesses that understand this inherently human craving for connection, can wrap their vision into a beautiful and captivating story.” These deeper connections work not only for the business-to-consumer relationship but also for the employer to employee, and vice versa.

The key to making any story feel more human is knowing your audience. Your first step before crafting any story should be to figure out your target audience.

Here are four different questions you should consider before your interaction:

1. Why have they chosen to listen to your story?

2. Demographics: What is their position, gender, size of their business, location, which industry, age, etc.?

3. What are their likes and interests?

4. Behaviors?

Consider the answers to the questions above an opportunity to help you craft your perfect story and make a genuine connection. No matter the type of story you intend on telling, knowing your audience is the most important step to getting your point across.


Source: under CC license.

Want to learn more on how to engage your audience emotions? Check out, CMO Insights: How to Use Emotional Marketing in Every Step of the Customer Journey.

 2. Keep it Clear and Concise

There are many different avenues to creating a clear and concise story. If you are a large business looking to craft a major campaign across multiple channels, I would suggest utilizing an integrated marketing and PR agency. Lexi Driscoll describes the benefits of using an agency in her article “5 Things You Didn’t Know Your Public Relations Agency Could Do.”

For those looking to communicate through a smaller forum, first identify your goal, then make sure you have a clear idea of who your audience is. Now, you can start crafting the story.

Whether you are a company or an individual, it is very likely someone in your audience either did not understand your story or just did not like it. It’s important to craft a message that is clear and straight to the point, because most people will not be listening for long – if at all.

3. Listen to Criticism

Once you’ve followed the strategic steps above you can now start looking at an audience that is captivated and engaged. Unfortunately, this step is where most people and companies drop the ball. After your story, listening to criticism is the key to telling your story better next time.

Social media has made listening and responding to criticism easier than ever. This type of instant engagement offers a chance to conduct primary research and facilitate growth. The responses derived, whether they be positive or negative, are valuable and should be taken seriously. Here are three things to keep in mind as you are listening.

1. Always be open to recommendations.

2. Do not be afraid to engage with your target audience.

3. Not all feedback should garner a response.

Sometimes the word criticism can carry a negative connotation because no one wants to be told that they are less than perfect. Keep in mind even if you are just listening and learning you have a solid foundation to telling a better story. Perfection is subjective, which opens the door for improvement.

syracuse PR
Janet Diane White is a communications expert pursuing her master’s in public relations at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Her current work explores the trends within the beauty industry through the eyes of a public relations professional.


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