In the twilight of our lives, most of us will use the stories we created along this path we call life to reflect on if it was a good life or not. Are they mostly good stories, or mostly bad? How did we recover from the bad ones? Are there plenty of stories or did you not spend enough time creating them? Who did we share those stories with? Will some of those stories live on? The same is very true in PR. Companies are also all about their stories.
Two recent articles in Entrepreneur magazine touch upon this. The first article focuses on how to approach reporters. It’s a time-consuming task to do so because you have to have a good story first. Then, you also have to mold that story each time into one that matters for that reporter and magazine at that time. The same story for each reporter – that cookie-cutter approach so many PR people still practice – doesn’t cut it. Sure, you can achieve a story here or there with a cookie-cutter approach. But, meaningful and impactful stories via the press come dominantly from an ability to relate a story to why it matters to them.
It’s not a task one can spend a bit of time doing here and there. In addition, everyone at the company must be on the same page about it. This is why anyone that understands the importance of PR knows there must be a dedicated person or team doing it. It’s not a project or thing you can just decide to try on a whim. Unfortunately, too many companies continue to make this same mistake. If companies are increasingly about the stories they have, PR continues to matter more than ever.
This brings us to the second article about having an authentic purpose. Apple is probably the most credited company with starting this branding approach. This stemmed from its call to “go against the big machine of the industry that is Microsoft.” “Think Different.” It’s worked.
But, be careful. It’s not enough to have a social purpose. Overall, this article is spot on. But, I will disagree with one part. It states that a competitor can always copy how to solve a problem but no one can copy “why.” That’s almost never true anymore either. The “why” is being copied all the time too. Everyone is doing sustainable, not just Patagonia. Everyone is doing homelessness, education reform, poverty, etc., etc.
An authentic purpose as part of branding is just that – a part of it. The industry experience of the team behind it matters too. The product still counts the most. It doesn’t matter what social purpose you try to claim, if the product sucks no one’s going to get behind it. If the leadership team is also not interesting, it too will be an obstacle. If you confuse everyone with too many intricacies in your story, a great product alone will not achieve full success either. All of these components must come together seamlessly.
The ability of the product to be attractive still matters the most. Only with a good product can you get people to listen to the “why” and the “who” is behind it. All of these components give you the opportunity to create a meaningful story to stand the test of time – and the market.