How to Tell Positive Stories in Turbulent Times

COVID-19. The election. Racial injustice. These buzzwords have served as the themes of our country’s current turbulent times. Many stories continue to be published around these themes, often with negative tones.

PR professionals, however, have the ability to lighten up the mood a little bit with positive storytelling. We can help clients tell positive stories at a time when those stories are needed more than ever. Whether you’re producing uplifting content for your client to publicize or are simply helping them find the words to write and the images to share, follow these tips to ensure their stories are told tastefully and effectively across all formats.

1.       Be conversational.

When helping your clients tell positive news, it’s important the story has a conversational tone so that consumers fully understand the news and feel connected to the brand. Jargon that’s tossed around internally should be left out from the story. If some jargon is absolutely necessary, it should explained so that consumers know exactly what you are talking about. Speak to the consumers and tell them how the story benefits them.

2.       Be transparent.

Let’s face it – it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows for any of your clients this year. So, their stories shouldn’t suggest that everything has been perfect for them. Sometimes hurdles are encountered while planning an event, or negative developments inspire a solution that produces positive results. And that’s OK! When storytelling, briefly let consumers in to those moments of conflict so that they can understand and relate, and therefore, invest themselves into the story.

Wood Services, a non-profit multi-service population health management and advocacy organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, successfully prevented a group of its most vulnerable residents from contracting COVID-19 over the span of nearly four months during quarantine. While we helped Woods tell this story with positive anecdotes from staff members and residents, we also included some snippets of trials and tribulations. Good storytelling recognizes that moments of hardship are part of the journey and make the victories even sweeter.

3.       Include people and quotes.

We’ve all heard that quotes add sparkle to a press release, which is certainly true. However, quotes are not just limited to a press release or news article. They can also bring a blog or social post to life. When helping your client tell a positive story, use quotes from either their executives or their consumers to add a human element.

We were able to help the Circuit Trails tell a story about a user of the trails, Sheri O’Neill, who found peace, solace and a passion for biking on the Chester Valley Trail after her younger sister passed away from a brain aneurysm years ago. As a coping mechanism, O’Neill started biking #OnTheCircuit more regularly and would eventually ride more than 100 miles a week (sometimes with friends), finding a new passion. We included a simple, yet powerful, quote from O’Neill in the story on how much of an impact the trails made on her: “It saved me.”

4.       Add some visual spice.

Rarely nowadays does a story do its job without an accompanying image, video or graphic. Before helping your client craft its uplifting story, ask yourself how a visual can enhance it, even if you think the words alone do it justice. And sometimes, a video is all that is needed to tell the story. When helping your client manage its blog site, think of all the ways they can diversify their storytelling with visuals.

And more importantly, ensure that the visuals are appropriate, sensitive, and are considering the current times people around the world are living in.

Have an idea for a positive story to tell to your consumers but just don’t know how to put it into words (or a colorful visual)? No worries – that’s why we’re here. Send us a note to resteasy@devinepartners.com