Public relations professionals perform any number of vital roles within an organization, but there is one area in particular in which PR skills are essential: narrative development.

Narrative-driven PR puts an industry narrative at the centre of an outward-focused and organization-specific communications program. It refers to a raft of content marketing, social media, digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) tools used to highlight a firm’s vision, and provide a single cause for teams and customers alike to rally around.

As markets and environments become increasingly crowded and noise-filled, organizations are having to work harder to stand out from the rabble. At the same time, PR teams are expected to communicate an organization’s purpose across an ever-broadening range of channels. It has never been more important for organizations to invest in a narrative-driven communications strategy.

For teams new to this shift, here are the top four elements of a narrative-driven PR strategy:

Narrative

Narrative refers to the singular message that encompasses what a company stands for, and why it is in business. Rather than emphasizing the products or services that the firm delivers, the narrative addresses the industry as a whole; it speaks to perceptions and misperceptions, and brings awareness to industry trends.

When organizations effectively articulate their narrative, they are able to facilitate alignment between their different teams, while providing a high-level and strategic internal vision. The narrative becomes the driving force for all teams in an organization, and the foundation for all external communications.

Media and Analyst Relationships

When an organization focuses its efforts behind a singular narrative, it finds itself in a unique position to “influence the influencers.” That is to say, all communications with reporters and analysts, including every conversation, social interaction or email, is treated as an opportunity to promote the narrative while shoring up advocates.

In most cases, organizations that effectively push an insightful industry narrative are sharing content that is different from the slew of inward, company-focused news or updates.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is often a combined effort between PR and marketing teams. When driving a narrative, then, it is vital that delivery is consistent and cohesive across a range of outlets. From industry-focused papers and online media, digital marketing strategies become the main driver of an organization’s narrative.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

High rankings in search engine results with keywords that relate to the crafted narrative is an essential part of this PR strategy. Not only does good SEO boost an organization’s inbound traffic, it also helps establish the firm as the authority and owner of keywords that relate to the narrative.

When done well, a narrative-driven PR strategy boosts alignment and cohesive messaging within teams and between organizations and their customers. When an organization is able to present itself as the driver and authority on major issues relating to the industry, the effect is palpable: employees are united by a singular vision, customers are more engaged, and leaders have a new communications arsenal with which to pursue success.

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.