old television set among books

Fine Tuning the Story

Once upon a time—well, not that long ago—television sets had dials on them that were used to change channels. There were two channel dials, VHF and UHF, named after the “very high” or “ultra-high” frequencies that stations used for their broadcasts. The VHF dial, channels 2 through 13, clicked into place on each channel number as the dial was rotated; you were either on channel 2 or not. The UHF dial, channels 13 through 83, rotated through the spectrum and needed to be adjusted to get a good picture. Some dials had a fine-tuning knob to help separate the channel from the frequency noise. Turning that special knob tuned into the clearest picture.

The communication environment in which we work today is like the UHF band. Channels lie along a spectrum and there is “noise” and signal drift. Part of the PR challenge is to create a clear picture (i.e., a story) so that a prospective customer, editor, or other target reader stops to view it. How can we accomplish that?

Ann Handley writes that “big and bold stories are often best told in small and specific ways.” Said another way, use a fine-tuning knob to create clear, crisp, and detailed stories. Rather than write from a high altitude with a big-picture view, dive down, down, down and tell the story from a specific and narrow angle. It will be different, it will stand out from the noise, and, most important, it will be memorable to your target audience.

What does the notion of fine tuning look like in actual practice? Here are some examples:

  • Your customer serves pet owners—a veterinarian, groomer, pet sitter, or other such service. Promote the business from the point of view of the pet. Shoot short “day in the life of Spot” videos from the vantage point of Spot, each highlighting an aspect of the customer’s business.
  • Your customer installs storm windows for a residential market. Track the travel of a rain drop down a window, touching on the key aspects of your customer’s services in the story.
  • Your customer is a software developer who is about to launch a mobile app. Interview them about the process of development, the victories, and the challenges. Pay attention to interesting details and dive into them further. Weave your story around the detail or details that promote your customer best and help the story stand out.
  • Your customer is a nonprofit that serves the homeless. Focus closely on the interactions between volunteers and to people the organization helps to unearth the little stories inside the big story. Use those little stories in promotions and fundraising communications.

Did these examples start creative wheels turning for you? Consider your client portfolio. Where can you apply fine-tuning to help your PR stand out, be more compelling?

Start now. Zoom in on the details. Fine tune the story. And share with us. How did you fine tune a story and what results did you achieve?

This post was written by Trish Lambert, writer, podcaster, and communications pro. You can find Trish writing sparkling copy and dispensing strategic advice to clients at trishlambert.com.

Photo by Tracy Thomas on Unsplash