Telling a Story? Remember to Explain the ‘Why’

February 2022
Share this article

Storytelling is a crucial component in public relations. We tell stories because we have something to say or a point we need to make. Telling stories can educate, inspire or sway an audience.

Perhaps most important, storytelling builds meaningful connections with people. As PR pros, we have the power to shape perceptions. By telling stories, we can initiate conversations and even convince others to agree with our perspectives. But to have those discussions, we first need to address the “why” — the reasoning behind our arguments.

The 5 W’s of journalism — who, what, where, when and why — each connect audiences to the main intention of the message. The W’s are also pillars for creating stories. 

The why strikes an emotional chord with audiences that inspires them to take action. When writing a statement of your organization’s mission, vision, values and objectives, before diving into specifics, start with a broad concept — the why.

To determine the “why,” consider these factors:

How does the story connect emotionally with an audience?

Audiences can analyze the meaning and truth behind the stories you tell. Stories that connect audiences to one’s history, culture, values and identity can bind people together. Use emotion to capture their attention. Do research to understand your audience, down to its specifics. To reach your objectives, use the audience’s voice and tone in your story. 

What can people learn from your story? 

Once you’ve connected with an audience emotionally, the next step in effective storytelling is to communicate a sense of purpose. Good writers and content creators build bridges between people and ideas. Communicators allow audiences to think in-depth, making them more open-minded and willing to engage.

Is the story transparent?

In today’s world, authentic, credible messaging matters. Storytelling tactics that convey factual information demonstrate a brand’s transparency. As public trust in nearly every institution has declined, companies are working to reestablish transparency. More than ever, people want brands to be transparent in their mission and how they conduct business.  

Good storytelling resonates with audiences. But no matter how you customize your story, its impact will be stronger when you address the “why.” 

Return to Current Issue The Annual Writing Issue | February 2022
Share this article