A visit to Hawaii can teach a PR person a lot about the important practice of consistent storytelling.
One of the most valuable tools modern public relations professionals employ is the ancient art of storytelling. At Schroder PR, we remind our new clients that if they bombard their prospects with numbers and facts, they will likely curtail their interest in working with them. Telling well-shaped stories, however, will attract clients and increase their desire to hire you.
I was reminded of the power of storytelling this past weekend, as we were hiking through the rain forests of Oahu in Hawaii. Driving to a remote location in the hills above Honolulu, our BikeHawaii guide, Jeremy, pointed to an “immersion school” nestled on the forested hillside. Within those walls, dozens of Hawaiian students take classes each day – all taught in the Hawaiian language. The only course in which the English language is spoken in these schools is English class.
A dozen years ago, only 0.1% of Hawaii residents spoke the native language, but a revival is now preserving the endangered language that only has five vowels and eight consonants – the smallest alphabet in the world.
Throughout our hike, our guide told stories about the land we were exploring and about the trees and bushes that were brought from foreign lands and were now choking out the native plants.
When we attended a luau at the Polynesian Center, the emcee told stories that were handed down through 75 generations of his ancestors, back to the islands’ first settlers 1,500 years ago.
“Hawaii never had a written language,” he said. “Our history and culture was preserved only through story telling.”
Hawaii’s stories were often delivered through dance and song. Today, visitors are treated to these stories through the hula dance. This important verbal vehicle not only preserved the islands’ cultural tradition through repetitive performance, it increased its imprint on the minds of the Polynesian settlers by incorporating accompanying visuals of hand gestures and hip movements – each of which had its own meaning.
Though marketing and PR professionals have many more vowels and consonants available in our languages and countless more vehicles through which to deliver the messages in ever-emerging technologies, we are aided in same tools the Hawaiians have used for generations.
Whether teaching our clients how to deliver a speech, to produce a video or to take advantage of the latest social media platform, we often stress the importance of repetition, music, body movement, hand gestures and story telling.
No matter where you are in the world, if someone drapes a lei over your shoulders or says “Aloha” or begins to dance the hula, you immediately think: Hawaii. In our business, that’s called excellent branding, developed on the most remote islands in the world and preserved through some of the best storytelling ever developed on our planet.
– Chris Schroder,