Unwrap a Story this Holiday

This time of year it’s easy to get caught up in the season of giving. Invariably, it’s also about advertisements telling us what we should be giving during the holidays – jewelry, electronics, toys for the kids and apparently buying a car for your significant other. But was it a Lexus or a BMW in that woman’s driveway? Did he get the ring at Jared’s or Kay? We’ll probably forget by the time the snow melts.

Unfortunately, the same is often true for many of the presents we receive. I really love that awesome cookbook with all the slow-cooker recipes I got last year, but I can’t seem to remember if I got it from Aunt Phyllis or my culinary-inclined cousin Nate.

Yet I remember a gift I received from a friend’s parents back in 1997. A little soccer ball ornament. It’s hanging on my Christmas tree. Why do I remember where and when I got it? Because when I opened it, my friend’s mom told me how much she enjoyed watching her son and me win a state championship in soccer earlier that year. It’s a heck of a story – blood, sweat and tears kind of stuff – but I’ll spare you the details.

The point is, when there’s a good story behind the gift, it’s more memorable. The same is true in advertising and public relations. Tell a good story and the same excitement you have for that product or service can actually be felt by your audience. This Princeton study describes an overlap between the production and comprehension systems of the brain. Known as “coupling” or “mirroring,” the person listening to a story essentially has the same brain responses that the person telling the story has.

In advertising, the story can connect people to a brand. Take Coca Cola for example. Thanks to those lovable, computer-animated polar bears sharing their soda, our hearts melt a little every winter. It’s great storytelling.

In public relations, the story can be the device that hooks the journalist. They’re looking for a good story to share with their readers/listeners/viewers. If you can deliver one to them, your chances of succeeding improve vastly. If it’s a really good story, that audience will remember it, too.

Not only can a great story make your product visible and memorable, a study conducted in 2009 called “Significant Objects” suggests it might even make it more valuable. Stories were written about objects that were worth $129 – combined. They sold for more than $3,600 on eBay. Now, you can’t go and fabricate stories about your products like was done in this study, but if there’s a truly good story behind something your business or a client sells, why not use it?

So during this season of giving, here’s my gift to you – unwrap that unique story about your organization and share it.