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Why storytelling is no longer enough to win consumers attention

From events, celebrity endorsements, influencers, and social media to most recently, storytelling – there has and always will be trends in the public relations and marketing industries. For years we have been told that story telling is the future of PR and marketing, but as the majority of the industry catches up and realigns their strategy for success…something happens.

Results decline.

The saturation of too many brand stories in the mix dilutes the reach and impact of the individual story, no matter how powerful it may be.

Take for example the recent news coverage of the Russia-Ukraine War. While Russia continues its mission and Ukraine responds with counter attacks, mainstream news stations have ceased, or significantly reduced, reporting on it. The point remains, there will always be something new to come along and dilute the salience of a story. Both in news and PR.

The challenge here, is to continue to develop new and exciting stories that are effective in their own right. While publicists and marketing professionals are well versed in repurposing or reworking content to maximise output, consumers are still losing interest with their dwindling attention span and necessity for brand new content.

The solution?

While I don’t have a crystal ball, we can see trends moving towards VR and the metaverse meaning interactive content is a must. I think we are still a while off digital currency and the likes becoming necessary for consumer facing brands though.

NFT’s are another technology gaining traction for brands, largely overseas. Non-fungible tokens are not currency, but rather a unique digital asset. While there may be value for creative industries and luxury brands to enhance their exclusivity and drive the desire for attainability via NFT’s, most consumer brands need not bother just yet.

One thing that all brands should get on board with though is making content without a purpose. Hear me out…

Social media teams work tirelessly to create content that will drive engagement and achieve key marketing and sales objectives. No matter the story you’re telling, no matter how creative or shareable the content, sometimes less is more.

Take Duolingo for example.

While the brand traditionally relied on messaging on its mission to make language education personalised, fun and universally accessible, their TikTok strategy seems quite simple – random videos of their mascot, a giant green owl named Duo, getting up to all sorts of crazy things irrelevant to the brand or its products.

So why does it work so well?

Firstly, current users already have an association with the character. Secondly, they’re not trying to sell anything. While consumers often accuse brands of trying to stay relevant by jumping on trends amidst posts promoting their latest product or sale, Duolingo stays on the path of humour for this platform.

Even when the topic of languages is used, it’s done in a humorous, chaotic, and sometimes risqué way, making viewers completely forget they’re being sold to.

That’s a key intention of PR after all, isn’t it? Be more like Duo.

By Rachel Demarco, senior PR/influencer manager, InsideOut PR featured in Mumbrella 

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