Once upon a PR story

By Verity Lethbridge

Have you heard the news? The hard sell is dead, but storytelling content is very much alive.

According to a survey conducted by Ad Week, 90% of customers find creative content useful and 78% of consumers believe that companies providing custom content are interested in building good relationships – it’s hard to argue with figures like those.

It is important to remember when targeting your customers, they are most likely saturated with advertising on a daily basis and taking the time to create engaging, original content could be the very thing that makes you stand out from the crowd.

Your best tools as a business are your staff. Consumers want to hear about the stories behind your business – they don’t want a faceless chef cooking their dinner or a generic advert that says nothing about who you are – they want to see experts in their fields offering top tips, advice and community commentary, which is why content marketing is so important.

We recently conducted a series of half-day PR workshops for four of our hotel clients to demonstrate this point. We invited staff from across the business, from housekeepers to estates managers, to highlight to them how the things they do every day without thinking can be turned into PR dynamite – in the right hands.

We had some great successes from these workshops, including a full page magazine feature as a result of some stunning seasonal bluebell photos taken by one of the hotels’ general managers, who had the forethought to take the pictures but wasn’t sure how best to use them – enter Custard.

It’s not just consumer coverage that can be achieved from digging a little deeper within your business either. We recently had great success in pitching a feature from one of the hotels’ head housekeepers on the importance of fragrance selection in guest toiletries to one of the leading hotel trade titles, demonstrating staff expertise and providing invaluable industry profiling for the hotel.

Great stories that will make your business shine can be found hiding around every corner. Is your head chef involved in training programmes that promotes young people choosing a career in hospitality? Do you have a reservations manager passionate about supporting local charities? Does your general manager moonlight as a champion triathlete? These are the stories that sell people rather than packages, and in turn make your hospitality business more accessible, more engaging and a pillar of both the local and wider community.

So, how do you start making storytelling part of your business and marketing strategy? Well, you’ll be pleased to hear you don’t need to take a course in creative writing to get started. All you need to do to get the ball rolling is to talk to your staff, find out about what they’re doing besides their everyday role and educate them on how sometimes, the smallest things can make the biggest noise. Ultimately if your business grows, so does their career, and if they feel they are a part of the company’s story, they will be more inclined to continue to support your PR efforts in the future.

However, as easy as it is to get started on your journey to great content, to make this a long-lasting, effective strategy it needs to be interwoven into your wider PR and marketing campaigns. As we always say at Custard, it is critical that any PR activity is not done in isolation and that to get the most out of a great story, every opportunity must be explored and utilised. So, when viewing any story always ask, what else can we do with this?

Put simply, a great piece of PR can be likened to a great book – both need to have a solid narrative that has relevance to its target audience, both require a developed back story that communicates a key message without shouting it in the reader’s face and perhaps most importantly, both need to have an ending that leaves the reader ready for more. So, what are you waiting for… get into the cogs of your business, give Custard a call and let us start writing your business’ story.