The Importance of Storytelling

Hi. I’m sorry. I’ve been kind of MIA, and to be honest my last blog post was a little lackluster (tbh I hate that word, but there’s not other word for it).

Two weeks ago, I went to a conference put on by Lee University’s PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) club in Chattanooga, TN. Their Social Innovation conference was so enlightening and educational. It was targeted towards professionals in the social media landscape, but going as a student on the brink of adulthood was incredible.

The conference was just a one-day event, and as I mentioned above it was in Chattanooga, so me and a few lovely ladies from my school’s PRSSA group got up early and drove there for the 8a.m. check-in, so by the end of the day, we were pretty much dead.

I went to several different sessions, and each one was better than the last. Until we got to Google Adwords because I feel like it takes a special kind of person to understand a 45-minute accelerated session on that. My biggest takeaway was something that I already know and something that I am passionate about in all aspects of life, which is the art of storytelling. No matter what industry you work in, the content that you create and share needs to tell a consistent story that is true to your brand and the brand of your company.

The first session I went into was Instagram Accelerated where a few ladies from a local social media marketing firm talked to us about the ins and outs of using Instagram for your company. Storytelling is especially important for Instagram because there are so many themed feeds. If your page is a cluster of random pictures without a common thread or identity, it will feel less connected. And for a company, this can mean careless or even ingenuine.

“Social media is ephemeral.”

Basically, it is fleeting. You have only a few seconds to catch someone’s attention before they scroll on past and forget about you. This is why it is much more important to create quality content over a large quantity of content. You could post 10 times a day, but if that content isn’t saying something or adding to your story, it is essentially meaningless.

Another great session was called “Brand-Building Through Social Media.”

Branding is “any perception your audience has of your organization” or what your audience notices. A brand is not defined by just a logo or a catchy tagline; it is your content, your photography, or even the smallest of details like the kind of font you use or whether you broadcast hashtags as opposed to hiding them in the comments. Representation is key.

No matter what you do, make sure you find your focus and stay consistent because at the end of the day, we are wired through storytelling. So make sure your story is a good one.

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The Importance of Disappointment

Hi. I’m back. I sincerely promise that I am going to get back into this blogging thing. Sometimes when your life is unbalanced, your work suffers. That has certainly been true when it comes to my writing schedule. Life is funny like that. If by “funny”, I mean cruel. I used to imagine that life was my companion, always at my side, ready to tackle anything that comes my way. But as I get older, I have realized that life is a large, all-encompassing ocean that just throws wave after wave at you; you have to either be on top of it, or you’ll get swept up and knocked down until the waters are still once more. I know it’s a little dramatic, but just bear with me.

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I faced a disappointment today. And it wouldn’t have been nearly as brutal had it not felt like “life” had set the whole thing up only for me to be yanked away from it at the last moment. Again, dramatic, but my mind seems to work only in metaphors.

All my life, I’ve been waiting for a sign or an experience to tell me exactly what it is that I should be doing. When I started college, I wanted to pursue something I loved: writing. So, I became an English major. For the most part, I loved it, but about two years into the program, I found myself sitting in a Jane Austen class, worrying if all those people who told me I wouldn’t make any money were right. Don’t get me wrong, I loved that class, and I learned a lot about social class and feminism, and how Jane Austen’s work is just as prevalent today as it was in the 1800s. I began to doubt my future as an author, so I panicked and rushed to find a way out only to run right into the communication department (yet another degree that is relentlessly teased for being a useless major, but I didn’t know that at the time. And actually, that accusation is completely false, but I will get into that another time).

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What I realize now that I didn’t at the time is that I had no clue what kind of jobs a communication degree could get me, but it was exactly what I needed in the moment: new and full of opportunities. As I got my feet wet in the department, I struggled to narrow in on a concentration. I was stuck between not knowing what I wanted to do and feeling an overwhelming desire to follow my dreams. Here’s the thing about dreams, they are always changing. When I was 9, my dream was to open a vet/groomer/boarding/puppy play palace. Now, that dream feels like a logistical nightmare. The reason I was so torn was because I didn’t know what my “dream” was. I had heavy interests in maybe screenwriting, maybe casting, maybe production, but I was also still very much in love with writing and wanted to see what my options were in media relations. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what to do, but that I had too much to pick from. I also had a fear that if I picked just one, it would be the wrong one and I’d have to start all over.

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So, I took a few film and public relations classes, and while I do still love the idea of one day writing my own television series or movies, I discovered a previously unknown love of public relations. It was something that clicked and that I was actually good at. This brings us to present-day. I graduate next May, and I have decided on the public relations concentration.  On a whim and on the fear of not having enough job experience when I graduate, I applied to several internships. To my utter surprise, I got an email requesting a phone interview. It didn’t matter to me at the time whether I got the position or not, because I only applied out of fear of regretting it if I didn’t. After a great phone interview, I was called in for an in-person interview, and the more I learned about the organization, the more excited I got. Each time I interviewed, I felt more and more confident that I had found that sign I’d been looking for.  For the first time, I was able to envision myself having an actual career. The position would give experience in not only public relations writing, social media, photography, but script writing, too, for their film and media department. I didn’t have to pick just one concentration; I really could have it all! Out of dozens of applications, I was one of three people vying for the internship.

It felt like the position had just fallen into my hands. If only I had caught it.

It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself and blame things like this on “Life”, but sometimes things just happen for a reason. It wasn’t the right time or place. I wasn’t the right person for the job. I still feel like I would have done a great job and I would have learned a lot. I may be a little bruised, but overall, I feel stronger than I did before this whole experience. Even though I didn’t get the position, I did not leave empty-handed. I left with the knowledge that I am a good writer, that I am able to successfully be in the running for the job of my “dreams” and the experience to try harder the next time I’m given the opportunity.

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