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 and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.