Nothing new in storytelling, but can the PR world make better use of the genre? By Chris Hewitt, Berkeley
Sitting comfortably? Let us begin.
The advertising copywriter did the same walk to work most days. A deep sense of sadness consumed him as he passed by an old man begging on the street corner. He noticed the beggar’s tin was completely empty. Winter was on its way and donations had dried up. Next to the dented tin was a worn piece of cardboard bearing the old man’s pitch:
‘I am blind. Please give.’
The young man wanted to give money and often he did. But he wondered whether there was
anything else he could do. It weighed heavily on his mind until inspiration came.
He stopped and kneeled next to the old man and said, “My name is Peter. I would like to help you.” The old man turned his head towards the sound of the helpful voice.
“Would you object if I wrote a new message on your piece of cardboard?”
“What have I got to lose? I haven’t heard a single coin land today. Be my guest,” said the old man.
Peter pulled out his black felt-tipped pen, turned the cardboard over and wrote down a single
sentence. He neatly placed the cardboard back next to the tin, said his goodbyes and left. All
morning, Peter wondered whether his idea had worked. He returned in his lunch hour where he found a much happier old man. It was hardly surprising. His tin was brimming with coins.
“What did you write on my board? I am very grateful and very curious. But you never said and I have listened to coins land in my tin all morning.”
He read out the words that had inspired so many people to give.
“Today is a beautiful sunny day. You can see it. But I cannot.”
The Power of Story
The blind beggar’s story tells us how storytelling can inspire people to behave differently.
While storytelling has become a buzzword in marketing circles, the subtleties of good storytelling have been lost somewhere along the way – particularly in PR. Many still think that stories extolling the virtues of a brand, or new products are just what an audience wants. But does it? Does anyone really care about your message, your brand, or how pleased you are to announce the launch of Version 2.0 of whatever
product you are flogging?
To read the full article on how to make the story sell, please download the pdf file below.