Stop speaking in bumper stickers

Although I’m only 30, I’m an aspiring curmudgeon. Nothing brings me more joy than getting on a soapbox and ranting about the absurdity of things.

My coworkers love it. (Read: I regularly interrupt my coworkers with rants they couldn't care less about.) Well, I recently was perturbed by something that was too important to share with only the select folks at THP. So without further ado…

Conversations around public relations can quickly devolve into esoteric nonsense. Go to enough PR workshops, luncheons or conferences and you’re bound to hear inspiring notions about organizational storytelling. You’ve heard them: “Don’t sell a product, tell a story.” “Create a culture of ideas, not rules.”

And these are all true statements. The problem though is that some people build their entire understanding of public relations on these adages. They are great at the brainstorming strategy meetings where out-of-the-box thinking is necessary. But when it comes time to figure out the brass tacks of how to translate these grandiose ideas into a tangible – and more importantly measurable – PR plan, crickets.

Public relations is more than inspirational bumper stickers about storytelling. What media outlets make sense for your organization to be in? (Note: the Today Show isn’t for everyone.) How exactly will you leverage media placements to achieve your organization’s goals? Who is the right reporter to contact, and how will you write a pitch that he or she will actually want to read? (For this, check out Megan’s fantastic post on media pitching). Most importantly of all, how do your communication goals help your organization achieve its business goals? If you don’t have any defined communication goals, go figure those out now. I’ll wait.

Your CEO or executive director doesn’t need inspiring quotes about storytelling. He or she needs to know how public relations is going to help their business. Yes, routinely step back and look at your organization from a different perspective, but be able to translate that insight into your CEO’s language and explain how it’s relevant to the company. This will serve you extremely well.

Because here is what’ll eventually happen if you speak in nothing but storytelling jargon all the time — you’ll find yourself in a meeting with the Bobs, screaming that you have people skills. 



Greg Surber

Greg Surber, APR, is a public relations strategist through and through. He works on a variety of accounts, leading research projects and content strategies, but he also has extensive experience with more traditional PR efforts including national and trade media relations campaigns.

Read more by Greg

Leave a Reply

Sign up to receive our blog posts by email