Skype reminds us that PR is about storytelling

by Amanda Plachte

Everyone has a story to tell and if told just right, it could appeal to anyone. This applies to all stories: those shared among friends and those shared with the world.

That is where the people in PR come in. Our job is to find the right stories, tell them to the right people and in the right way. That is exactly what Pereira & O’Dell did for their client, Skype.

skype-girls-hed-2013_0

Adweek author Tim Nudd highlights the storytelling in his article about Skype’s successful campaign “Stay Together.” It initially included three “family portrait” vignettes that featured emotional stories of people connected through Skype. It is the fourth and final spot in the campaign that sent Pereira & O’Dell straight to the 41st Annual One Show Awards to receive a gold pencil award.

In Nudd’s opinion the ads have a few flaws: they are lengthy, manipulative and highlight a service that Skype cannot provide. However, he says it is irresistible. This is all because of the story, which is flat-out incredible and clearly real and heartfelt.

The story is about two teenage girls: Sarah from Nappanee, Indiana, and Paige from Auckland, New Zealand. Both born with only one arm, the two girls have a unique bond and friendship. Never having met in person, their mothers found each other online while in search of support for their daughters; eight years ago Sarah and Paige began to Skype. The friends reached out to Skype when the video chat company asked for customer stories about long-distance connections.

Adweek author David Griner gives a behind-the-scenes look in his article about Pereira & O’Dell working with Paige and Sarah.

Agency co-founder and CCO PJ Pereira says, “One day, we’re just running through submissions and I kinda walk through the agency and I see a copywriter wiping away tears and I say, ‘What’s going on?’ They said, ‘You gotta see this.’ Then I was in tears.”

The agency instantly fell in love with the girls’ story and began to gather further information about them.

“It’s not just a regular friendship,” Pereira said. “I get goosebumps just thinking about it. I knew that was a story we needed to tell.”

The heart of the ad, the story, and the entire campaign is when the two friends were given the opportunity to finally meet in real life. All thanks to Pereira & O’Dell, Sarah and Paige get a dream come true and Skype looks fantastic for having facilitated the first eight years of their relationship. According to Pereira, “That single moment told that entire story in four seconds.”

Grab a tissue and see for yourself.

Why do stories work?

Elena from PR in your Pajamas explains in her blog how storytelling is scientifically proven to be an effective communication tool.

Hearing a story activates more areas of the brain than consuming purely factual, textual content. Areas of the brain light up, as if we were experiencing the story ourselves. The listener puts themselves in the protagonist’s shoes and, as far as the brain is concerned, experiences what’s happening in the story. As a result, emotions are aroused and thoughts are planted in the mind; the listener turns the story into their own idea and experience, then acts accordingly.

Storytelling works in PR and marketing because it allows us to take the audience on a journey — one that stimulates the feelings, ideas and attitudes consistent with our marketing goals.

Have a story to share? What brands have reached you through storytelling? Don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest.

Image via Adweek

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