By: Kit Murray
With a degree in mass communications and philosophy, I always knew I wanted to write. I just wasn’t sure where. My first job out of college was in a newsroom, writing for the Red Wing Republican-Eagle.
Take a quick glance at your local newspaper: what are today’s headlines? As I write this, the leading local paper in Minneapolis, MN, the Star Tribune, has stories on the front page titled, “Russia Barred From 2018 Olympics for Doping,” and “Congress’ inaction on CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) could cost the state $178M.”
What is the common denominator in these (and most other) front-page stories? That’s right, negativity.
To journalism’s credit, news consists of heavy stories that weigh on the heart for a reason. Editors and reporters need to grab our attention and want us to feel informed and, ultimately, connected with those around the world. And these days, it’s hard to imagine a world without breaking news at our fingertips. We’ve evolved to be a demanding, fast-paced society that is always connected through social media. This has made an impact on the way we digest stories, making it hard for everyone to find the ones worth reading.
I knew it would be a big transition from the newsroom to the world of PR. My career leap—from digging into the harsh realities in government to focusing my energy on the successes and big wins for people in education—was inspired by my love of stories and learning.
The strong relationships we build through stories are the foundation of everyone’s life. Imagine going on a first date with someone, but without being able to tell a story. What would the conversation be like? Probably pretty dull, lifeless, and empty. With stories, we have the ability to create depth, meaning, and connection. This is a skill everyone should want to be better at! Way too often, we talk too much without saying a whole lot.
Every Story Begins with Listening
In order to find the heart of a story, we need to ask questions. How often do you hear children asking questions about the world around them? Probably all the time! That’s because we all have curious minds that are built to discover, and in order to do so, we have to ask questions. This is what makes K-12 education so special.
At PR with Panache!, the indispensable first step of sharing stories that help educators is listening to others. We take the time to listen and create relationships with our client family so that we can tell their story with maximum impact.
Every ed tech marketer can connect with users or potential customers the same way: by learning the story of their school or district. In some sense, every marketer is a journalist first, because every campaign and every relationship begins with us learning answers to the five basic questions every reporter asks: Who? What? Where? Why? When? More specifically:
Who are you talking to you? A small-town principal? An urban superintendent?
What challenges do they have that you might be able to help with?
Where are they, both geographically and on their buyer’s journey?
Why do they think a product or solution like yours might meet their needs?
When is the best time for them to buy? (This doesn’t always coincide with the best time for you to sell.)
Asking these questions is a great start, but truly listening is the key. It may seem like a long way from a small-town newsroom to an international PR firm, but in both of them, ultimately, my job is to be a glorified listener. The core of what I do is to hear what you have to say. So tell me your story. I’m listening.
Thanks for sharing!