PR is a game of chance.  There, I’ve said it.  There are rarely guarantees of success, unless, of course, you are announcing an immortality pill, the existence of alien life or unimpeachable evidence that Elvis is alive and working as a recruitment consultant in Croydon.

But this same uncertainty applies to advertising (and the financial risks are much, much higher), direct marketing and many other marketing techniques.  You can come up with the most audacious and comprehensively researched plan, and yet.  And yet.

How then do you narrow the odds of success?  How do you take an equation like X + Y = maybe to something closer to X + Y = probably?

Part of it is alchemy rather than science.  You pay for an agency because they have a sixth sense.  But there are other ways of shortening the odds and I’m about to give away the crown jewels…..

We’ve done some analysis.  We’ve looked at more than 600 stories that have captured the imagination: videos, events, stunts, speeches and good old fashioned press releases.  A lot of them are ours but we’ve also looked at work by our competitors and at stories that have emerged without any apparent assistance.

We’ve taken them apart and looked at common characteristics.  We then boiled these down on the stove and we’ve come up with what we’re calling the Periodic Table of Story Elements.  This chart of 12 story elements is a litmus test for whether a story will work or not.  By ‘work’ I mean be reported or shared widely.

What I’m saying is:  If your story doesn’t contain at least one of these elements, abandon it.  There are many announcements that get bounced round from committee to committee and have the news and frisson sucked out of them.  There are many that are utterly self-serving.  There are triumphs of process over substance.  There are buzzword salads.  And then there are stories that work.

This one table (below) ought to make a difference to the effectiveness of your PR or advertising or events or direct marketing.  Give it a go and let me know how you get on – on Twitter (@HamishMThompson) – or give me a call on 07702 684290.  I’d love to hear how it goes.

Oh, and do feel free to use the share buttons above.

Periodic Story (extended)

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