Storytelling becomes the new black

Every PR agency touts its storytelling prowess.

When everyone gravitates toward the same shiny objective, it tends to lose meaning. You can start to get a feel for how this plays out through a simple Factiva (massive database of publications) search on the number of stories that contain the word “storytelling” going back 10 years.

Ten Years Storytelling

I question whether the growing usage of the word makes for a happy ending because it causes the marketplace, specifically those who buy communication services, to perceive storytelling expertise as a commodity; i.e., all PR firms do this.

Yet, I view us as one of the few PR agencies that walks the storytelling talk, evolving the theory into practical techniques that get applied to client campaigns.

But have we baked this attribute into our brand?

The honest answer is there’s work to be done.

Years ago in a Q&A on storytelling, Kathy Hanson asked me, “While your blog focuses significantly on storytelling in business, your company’s website,, does not seem to play up storytelling. Is that a fair observation and if so, is there a reason behind not emphasizing storytelling on your agency’s site?”

At the time, I responded:

  • That’s a fair statement. We’ve debated how much to emphasize our storytelling expertise on the Agency website. The challenge relates to economics. The amount of money that companies allocate to outside storytelling services is a tiny fraction of what’s earmarked for public relations services. In a world where labels often point the way, it’s important that people searching for PR services find their way to our doorstep.

OK, so I made a “slight” miscalculation, losing sight of this concept called marketing.

We’re now making a conscious effort to accentuate our storytelling expertise as a brand attribute.

If you search on “PR storytelling,” you’ll find that we show up on page 1 and usually in the top-three results (the intersection of SEO and PR).

We’ve also recently created an ad that delivers this message.

We Get Storytelling - Holmes Report

Looking to the future, we’ll be bulldozing our company website with hopes of going live with the new site in the April timeframe. We believe the new site affords the best opportunity yet to differentiate our brand, including our storytelling expertise.

It’s all part of our quest to be the cobbler’s kids who have shoes.