I have a guilty pleasure; I really like to watch documentaries while I make dinner. It’s my time to do two things that I enjoy; learning from storytelling and creating homemade meals for my family.
This isn’t a new thing. It was always my Sunday afternoon treat. Since lockdown I’ve started to watch programmes on my iPad while prepping, chopping, baking, boiling and roasting. It is a way for me to destress and unwind while also learning about others.
I am interested in different communities, cultures and lifestyles. The way people choose to live their lives intrigues me and I genuinely believe we can all learn from others: good or bad.
Looking differently at My Street
While perusing the choices, I came across an old programme called My Street. The concept was simple but inspired. A lady had lived on a street for many years and realised she didn’t know her neighbours.
Not usual now-a-days, and something that I feel we can probably all relate to in one way or another.
She set about knocking on doors and asking each family to share their stories about love, life and loss on film. The outcome was an insight into a street that was made up of so many different characters that had one thing in common: their postcode.
Learning from storytelling
This got me thinking.
There is little doubt that one of the reasons I enjoy documentaries so much is that I write stories for a living. Admittedly, the releases and features I draft are often about business, but this doesn’t mean they are devoid of personality.
We always say that passion is infectious, and personality is the one thing that a company has that cannot be replicated. You may be selling the same product as another business but what makes your organisation unique is you. This is where the power of storytelling comes into its own.
I then realised that during lockdown we have started to talk to our neighbours more. We’ve always nodded a polite hello but now we stand in our gardens and we chat. We live on a cul-de-sac in a former mining village and are all very different.
Since lockdown a group of us have come together and during our morning, afternoon and evening chats (which conform to the obligatory social distancing) we have learnt about ‘My Street’. It wasn’t forced it just happened and has made me realise how important it is to add personality to content if you want to really engage with an audience.
Behind closed doors
People like stories. They like to know what happens behind closed doors and to hear about the love, life and loss of others. This doesn’t mean every business needs to share their inner most workings with everyone. In fact, I can’t think of a single client that would happily disclose all their best kept secrets. What it does put into perspective is the need to add interesting facts into the case studies, press releases, blogs and social content.
If you want to harness the power of storytelling you need to think differently.
Adding some honesty to copy and write in the first person to change a piece of content from informative to truly engaging. Creating reactions and changing behaviours is one of the benefits of PR and writing in this way will achieve those objectives.
Going back to My Street
Although I have worked in PR for more than 20 years, I never assume to know everything.
Life is about lessons and I like to learn from others. I try to take the positives from situations and just one of those will be that My Street has reminded me that the true story is the person behind the headline.
Remembering this and using it as a tool going forward, I’m going to put this into practice and make it my mission to find out more about the people behind the stories that we share. But before that, I am going to continue to enjoy the chats that we are having with neighbours and to learning more about what goes on behind closed doors on My Street.