A reporter and camera person in a flower greenhouse

Using Storytelling to Elevate Your Business and Brand

Sto­ry­telling is some­thing we help our clients with every day at Bell­mont Part­ners. We know own­ing – and shar­ing – your sto­ry is cru­cial for con­nect­ing with poten­tial cus­tomers and ele­vat­ing your busi­ness and brand. Whether it’s a hot top­ic or a news­wor­thy hap­pen­ing, do you know the process to share your sto­ry effectively?

Bell­mont Part­ners’ Hor­ti­cul­ture, Agri­cul­ture and Food prac­tice group had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to present on this very top­ic at this year’s Women’s Agri­cul­ture Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence. Dur­ing our ses­sion, we broke down how to start the sto­ry­telling process by con­sid­er­ing four ques­tions, along with spe­cif­ic steps to cre­ate an action plan. While the audi­ence for this con­fer­ence was spe­cif­ic to peo­ple in the agri­cul­ture com­mu­ni­ty, the sto­ry­telling process we talked about can apply to any­one – those in a large or small busi­ness set­ting or an indi­vid­ual build­ing a per­son­al brand.

Whether you’re a sea­soned com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro or are just get­ting your start, these ques­tions can pro­vide a sol­id foun­da­tion that will help you share your story.

What is the sto­ry you’re try­ing to share?
To answer this ques­tion, some­times it’s help­ful to think of the end goal or out­come – what do you want peo­ple to believe, under­stand or take action on by hear­ing your sto­ry? Then think about what mes­sages you need to share to make that hap­pen. These are your key mes­sages, which as a reminder, should always be true, brief and res­onate with the audi­ence. While there are going to be many things you’ll want to com­mu­ni­cate, remem­ber to focus on the most impor­tant things you want the audi­ence to remem­ber. Also keep in mind that your sto­ry should be con­sis­tent – among a team, orga­ni­za­tion and as an indi­vid­ual, so you can build trust and help the mes­sages stick with the read­er or listener.

Who do you want or need to reach with this message?
This impor­tant next step iden­ti­fies who you want to hear your sto­ry. There are a vari­ety of options, such as con­sumers and indus­try pro­fes­sion­als, employ­ees and cur­rent employ­ees, investors and part­ners, among many more. You may want to share your sto­ry with more than one audi­ence. If this is the case, focus on which audi­ences you want to pri­or­i­tize, and make sure you have key mes­sages that are appro­pri­ate for each group of people.

Where does it make sense to share it?
Next, con­sid­er where it makes sense to share your sto­ry. Owned media are places where you con­trol the infor­ma­tion, such as your web­site, social media chan­nels, LinkedIn pro­file or resume. Earned media, such as a news sto­ry or con­tent with­in some­one else’s blog, is where you don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly get to con­trol the final prod­uct, but can help shape the sto­ry by using your key mes­sages dur­ing the inter­view. Here are a few ques­tions to con­sid­er when decid­ing where to share your story:

  • Is the sto­ry timely?
  • Is the sto­ry newsworthy?
  • Is the sto­ry interesting?

Remem­ber, not every sto­ry will be able to or need to reach the largest media out­lets. Com­mu­ni­ty papers and local radio sta­tions can be just as impor­tant as nation­al media. Share your sto­ry in the places it makes sense based on your intend­ed audience.

How can you com­mu­ni­cate it?
The final ques­tion is just as impor­tant as the pre­vi­ous three: How will you best com­mu­ni­cate your sto­ry? First and fore­most, using clear, con­cise words – whether writ­ten or ver­bal – makes a big dif­fer­ence in how peo­ple under­stand your mes­sages. In those mes­sages, avoid indus­try jar­gon and share the most inter­est­ing yet rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion you can. Visu­als like pic­tures, videos, graph­ics and time­lines are also an impor­tant way to com­mu­ni­cate your message.

Get the wheels in motion 
With these four ques­tions in mind, move for­ward in telling your sto­ry. First cre­ate a time­line to help keep you on task. Some sto­ries like events have defin­i­tive dead­lines, while oth­er sto­ries have more flex­i­bil­i­ty on when they are shared. These dead­lines will help shape your time­line. After cre­at­ing the time­line, devel­op mate­ri­als such as a press release, pitch, media advi­so­ry, resume, cov­er let­ter or social media con­tent. Once that is com­plet­ed, it’s time to share your story!

Share on your owned media chan­nels or to media con­tacts. Don’t be afraid to tweak your strat­e­gy or mate­ri­als based on feed­back from peo­ple via social media or from pro­duc­ers or edi­tors. And keep in mind that no feed­back is also feed­back. For exam­ple, if you are pitch­ing a sto­ry to media out­lets and it’s not attract­ing inter­est, reframe the sto­ry or find a time­ly hook and try again. Or in the case of your per­son­al brand, if you are apply­ing to jobs and haven’t heard back from any com­pa­nies, revis­it your mes­sag­ing, con­sid­er some changes and keep trying.

Remem­ber, whether you’re a one-per­son team, a small depart­ment or just stretched thin, it’s OK to start small. And if you real­ize you need addi­tion­al help, reach out to us! Bell­mont Part­ners can be an exten­sion of your team, whether for a small project or a long-term part­ner­ship to help you share your story.

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