Storytelling or Marketing?

I’ve had a few public relations classes already that emphasize the notion of “storytelling” and how vital and imperative it is in the industry now. I have not even had a real job in public relations yet and it’s already a word I hear a lot. But is it a buzzword?

I can see how some professionals see the idea of storytelling as a marketing function to be a bit of a stretch (and thus, a useless buzzword). These people iterate that if you are not actually in the business of storytelling, you are not a storyteller. And to a certain extent, I agree with that. Most of the time it seems that the term “storytelling” is used in a more broad, metaphorical sense in marketing and public relations — as simply a new marketing tool to make certain campaigns have a more fancy and potentially reputable label.

On the other hand though, I truly believe that there are specific stories that can be told through marketing that are generally not fabricated and actually do in fact tell a story through the point of view of a consumer, employee or whoever. It has been said, and I agree, that in a day and age where social media is the main source of communication and attention spans are low; no one really cares about your marketing goals, but everyone likes a good story.

With that being said, while I see and acknowledge the point of view of those who are adamantly opposed to using the term “storytelling” for a position title, campaign method or otherwise, I genuinely believe that the term is legitimate and will serve it’s purpose on the new public relations/marketing front. Good storytellers can capture and share beautiful things in their stories that bring a new dimension to the conversation of brands. In order for your idea or image to thrive and catch on with viewers now, it’s imperative to have original and genuine content that reaches consumers on an emotional level. Storytelling is a way for brands to relate to consumers and build loyalty.

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