Spinning a Narrative

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In the world, the term “spin” has a fairly negative connotation. We think of mega corporations or politicians trying to get out of trouble for something naughty they did or a TV station leaving out information because their owners have an interest in the story being squashed.

But that’s not the only meaning of spinning a story.

Spin isn’t all about suppressing the truth, though. It can be used to “spin” the narrative of your company. As you figure out your business and what the story behind it is, you need a way to direct everything. Without spin, you’re not able to get a cohesive storyline.

What Does it Mean to Spin a Story?

“Spinning a story” generally means presenting facts, events, or situations in a specific way, often to influence perceptions or opinions. It might involve emphasizing certain details, de-emphasizing or omitting others, or interpreting events in a particular light.

Journalists, publicists, or public relations professionals might “spin” a news event to shape public opinion. This could be by framing a situation as either negative or positive based on the desired outcome.

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It’s worth noting that, though it can be, “spinning a story” isn’t inherently dishonest or manipulative. The term simply denotes a shaping or framing of information, but the intent can vary from benign to manipulative.

It’s always a good practice for those in public relations to be mindful of how what you leave out or deemphasize in your telling of the story can appear to even the most cynical once they are discovered before choosing to spin stories in ways that may be seen as shaping the story in your favor.

It’s all part of creating the narrative you want to put out into the world.

What is a Narrative?

In the context of public relations (PR), a “narrative” refers to the overarching story or message that an organization or individual seeks to communicate to the public. It’s the cohesive and consistent story that underpins all your communications, weaving together facts, emotions, values, and perceptions to create a specific image or understanding of a brand, person, or cause.

Key Aspects of a Narrative in PR Include:

  • Consistency: Regardless of the medium (press release, interview, social media post, etc.), the core message of the narrative remains consistent. This consistency strengthens the story and makes it more memorable and impactful.
  • Emotion: Narratives often engage emotions to make them resonate with audiences. Whether it’s pride, hope, excitement, or empathy, emotions can make a story more compelling.
  • Values and Beliefs: A strong narrative often reflects the values and beliefs of an organization or individual, helping to establish a connection with like-minded individuals or groups.
  • Differentiation: In the competitive world of PR, having a unique narrative can set an entity apart from others. It establishes a unique identity and position in the market or public eye.
  • Adaptability: While the core message remains consistent, a good narrative can be adapted to different situations, audiences, or current events. This allows the narrative to remain relevant over time.
  • Authenticity: For a narrative to be effective, it needs to be authentic. This means it should genuinely reflect the values, goals, and truths of the organization or individual. Inauthentic narratives can be quickly spotted and can damage reputation.

In PR, creating and maintaining a strong narrative is essential because it shapes how audiences perceive and interact with a brand or individual. Whether it’s launching a new product, managing a crisis, or building a personal brand, the narrative provides a foundation for communication strategies.

Spinning The Narrative

Whether you recognize it or not, you probably started spinning stories at a very young age. “She hit me” can mean something totally different when it becomes clear that she did so because you pushed her down the stairs.

It’s important that we realize that everyone, on purpose or not, is always leaving out information from the narrative they present to the public. Literally every day you’re choosing to ignore something that happens with your company. The reasons why vary, but the end result is the same – knowledge suppression.

For example, you may think a piece of info is irrelevant, like your CEO has a history of gambling addiction. He got over the addiction years ago, so you’ve never spoken about it as associated with your company. However, some customers may have a problem with it if they knew about it. As a result, you’re involved in spin.

You may be totally correct, though, in believing the CEO’s past is irrelevant (unless, perhaps, your business is finance related). It has nothing to do with how well the company sells your digital editing software package. It’s simply an example of spinning your narrative by eliminating it from the national dialogue.

Choosing What to Include and Leave Out When Spinning Your Story

So how do you choose which events or facts you think go against your narrative but won’t be destructive if they come out as you spin your story? As with everything else, it takes a lot of careful consideration.

You have to decide whether the new piece of information you’ve gathered about the company would cause a ruckus if it were to leak out. If you don’t talk about it yourself, eventually it will come out, and could look much worse. At this point you’re in recovery mode rather than spinning your narrative mode.

For instance, if your CEO recently had a relapse with his gambling addiction, it may not be a good idea to suppress the info. Customers who find out about it through other means may assume it’s going to negatively affect them and pull their business. If you talk about it first you can at least “spin” it in a direction that doesn’t hurt your company.

Just remember not to intentionally mislead anyone. Positive spin is simply about leaving out irrelevant information. If something will hurt your customers, put them ahead of anything else.

What is the narrative you’re spinning for your business?

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (https://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download your free copy of 8 Shocking Secrets Press Release Distribution Firms Don’t Want You to Know here: https://www.ereleases.com/free-offer/secrets-pr-firms-dont-want-you-to-know/

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