Long before storytelling became the cool buzzword in business, it was – and still is – the heart of the public relations professional’s craft. The most successful media relations professionals are consummate storytellers, and the best PR strategists are those who have honed their ability to identify and shape vivid, emotionally driven stories about a brand, product or client.
A story or brand narrative offers an organization several benefits, as storytelling expert Thaler Pekar wrote in Stanford Social Innovation Review. “When an organization embraces narrative and applies it throughout its work, brand identity is clear and appealing; audiences are quickly and sustainably engaged; leaders appreciate and strategically share stories; and knowledge is easily gathered and shared.”
When crafting a narrative, PR pros commonly turn to two tried-and-true methods for uncovering an organization’s story: interviews of leaders and employees; and customer surveys. Both of these approaches produce shareable stories and contribute to the overarching brand narrative. But are PR pros missing an important perspective if they focus exclusively on these two research methods?
They may be missing out on one source that is highly influential: broadcast media. When crafting a brand’s story, it’s important to keep in mind that nearly all U.S. homes have a television, and broadcast TV is still the dominant way people get their news, according to Pew Research Center. In fact, the audience for evening network and local TV news increased in 2014.
Broadcast media, then, offers an important perspective that should be wrapped into the brand narrative. Its inclusion ensures the company’s story will resonate – and travel - across all audiences and all media platforms.
PR professionals can use their broadcast monitoring tool to conduct a content analysis of relevant TV and radio segments. For example, they should review clips for mention of the brand and its key messages. But they should also conduct an intense content analysis, which will produce valuable information beyond these basic findings.
Start by researching key issues and topics, competitors, partners, vendors, NGOs and other stakeholders. Here are just a few of the questions you can use to evaluate the clips.
- What are the hosts or news anchors saying about your company and issues relevant to the narrative you’re crafting?
- What facts are accurately reported? Which are inaccurate?
- Does the show or segment demonstrate any preconceptions about your company or relevant issues?
- What are the various angles they are presenting?
- Who do the media outlets believe are the heroes in the story? Who are the villains?
- What are the stories your competitors, partners, NGOs and other stakeholders are telling?
- What visual elements are being used to tell these stories?
In addition, your broadcast monitoring tool can help you understand and compare the impact of various narratives. Data visualizations – such as trend charts and heat maps – can help you identify which story threads are worth pursuing.
This kind of third-party analysis and feedback provides a 360-degree view of the brand and the stories it would like to tell. With it, PR professionals will be able to shape a brand narrative that not only fits the company and aligns with its key stakeholders, but also is more likely to be credible and widely shared.
Learn more about using broadcast media monitoring to enhance your PR playbook with our free eBook “14 Ways Broadcast Monitoring Can Help You Grow and Improve Client Service”.