The Power of Storytelling Through the Looking Glass
Why is it that children’s books are often the most remembered?
According to Wired.com, “Kids are drawn to stories that resonate with challenges they’re facing. Authors know that kids seek out tales that present certain compelling themes. Speaking one’s truth, overcoming adversity, enduring tragedy, relying on wit or cleverness, a sacrifice, finding a kindred spirit, gaining new powers or knowledge.”
Many children see life as long, mysterious, and bizarre. There is no explanation or guideline. Just as much as they don’t color inside the lines, they don’t think in straight lines or with perfect logic either. They have large imaginations, similar to a constant dream state of mind. They are living the dream we are continually working towards as adults. Kids live the adult’s dream.
Now you understand why Peter Pan never wanted to grow up!
What if the next time you wrote a PR pitch you thought about it and wrote it through a child’s eye or lens?
When it comes to Public Relations, storytelling is one of the most important components. PR professionals are constantly telling a story to journalists and the community to gain a higher visibility for their clients. They are creating a visual that will stick with the Journalists. They might not need your client now, but they might need a creative last-minute story later and will remember your last unique pitch.
Journalists receive hundreds of emails a day and are looking for PR professionals to provide something of value to them. They have two goals: get the news out in a timely manner by telling a story to their audience and draw readers in to their publication. They want to see a story that will drive traffic, provide a picture, and resonate with their audience.
Mirror, Mirror on the wall. Whose pitch is the fairest of them all?
Do you want to be the superhero in your story and compile a power pitch? Powerful pitches demonstrate to the journalist that the PR professional has done their research and is actually interested in their work. A strong pitch should resonate with the journalist by showing that the PR pro knows the subject matter or beat of the journalist including, what they write about, their audience demographic, what section or outlet they write for, and their writing style. If the story you pitched once upon a time aligns with their needs, you might get your happily ever after.
An additional enticing way to get your email noticed is to create a compelling subject line. Use that child lens, and get creative. In addition to an imaginative headline, it needs to be clear and easily understandable for any age. Remember, you’re still using your child lens. Be transparent on what you are offering and convey a hook that will make an editor want to open the email.
When you get to the body of your pitch or press release, it is important to make sure you’re telling a story and not throwing out a bunch of key message points about the brand. While they are important to include, it’s more about finding a unique angle within a good story, and then the key points will align smoothly. Go big or go home! The body of the pitch is where your imagination should SHINE. Make it memorable, visual, and out-of-the-ordinary.
At first glance, stories through a child lens are imaginative, full of wonder, and creative. Take Cinderella for instance.
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Cinderella.
Cinderella lived with her stepmother and stepsisters, Ivy and Esmeralda. They made her do all the work around the house while they did nothing at all! One day, an invitation arrived for a ball at the castle hosted by the prince. Every maiden in the kingdom was invited. The stepsisters couldn’t wait! They went through their closets to find their fanciest gowns to wear to the ball. Cinderella dreamed of going to a ball at the castle.
“May I borrow a dress to wear to the ball?” she asked her stepsisters hopefully.
“You?” Esmeralda jeered. “You’re not invited.”
“But I thought everyone was invited!” protested Cinderella.
“Cinderella,” Ivy continued, “you have too much work to do. No ball at the castle for you!”
On the day of the ball, Cinderella desperately wanted to see the castle and get a peek at the ball. Then, out of nowhere, a magical little woman appeared.
“Did I hear someone say ‘wish’?” she asked, smiling.
“Who are you?” Cinderella asked.
“Why, I’m your fairy godmother, of course! I’m here to make your wish come true.”
Sparkles rained down on Cinderella, and she watched in amazement as her old dress turned into a beautiful white gown, complete with a set of glass slippers on her feet.
“Off you go to the ball, my dear,” said her fairy godmother. “But please remember one thing. You must leave before midnight. That’s when the magic will end, and you will be back in your old clothes.”
We know how the rest of this story ends—the prince falls in love with Cinderella and they live happily ever after.
As a child, every story seems like a fairytale. Children’s books are full of dreams, with creative messages that stick with them to adulthood.
Let’s read the Cinderella story again but this time, using an adult lens. Remember—adults have the attention span shorter than a goldfish.
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Cinderella.
Cinderella lived with her messy roommates that never cleaned. One day, she got a public Facebook invite for a fraternity party by her classmate Eric. She wanted to go but afford a new outfit. Her roommates wouldn’t even share!
Her mom called that evening and said “Cinderella,” her mom continued, “you have too much homework to do. No partying at the fraternity for you!”
Then, out of nowhere, Cinderella found an outfit she’s never worn in the back of her closet—complete with glass shoes from last year’s Halloween outfit.
She pre-gamed until midnight and didn’t make it out. She went out the next weekend and ran into Eric. They are exclusively dating.
While we can relate to Cinderella’s hangover she probably had the next morning, we can also relate to how boring that story was compared to the original.
As you begin to compile your next pitch, first write it using a children’s lens. Then, put on your adult glasses and polish it—we never said kids were grammar prodigies!
The moral of the story is to have some fun and get creative! You never know, the under the breath chuckle you get out of a reporter on an out of the box angle or idea may just happen to be the kiss your client’s story needs to awaken it from a deep slumber to appear online, in print, or on broadcast media!
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