Telling Great Stories

We recently had a class visit from Olivet public relations writer, Laura Warfel.

It was especially interesting to listen to a woman who is still passionate about a job she has been working for many years. And passionate she is. Warfel’s energy and creativity in accomplishing Olivet’s PR goals were inspiring.

Warfel described her job as “telling the great stories of Olivet in as many ways as possible to as many people as possible.” She accomplishes this through writing a variety of stories about four basic topics: alumni, students, news, and events (which includes invitations). However, it is interesting to note that although there are only four basic topics, a creative PR writer can write infinite stories. She noted that there are endless stories that could be told, and one of her main jobs is deciding which to tell. The question becomes: how do we choose which stories to tell?

The answer is in Warfel’s very next comment: if you target news to a specific audience, your story has a better chance of getting shared and published in the news outlets. This is something I have talked about before—knowing your audience. When choosing between several stories, you have to choose the story that will connect to the demographic you are trying to relate to.

Audience, however, is only one reason why stories work. Others reasons include relevance, timing, and use of media. PRPs use these together to get the maximum number of readers for their story.

“My job is telling the great stories of Olivet in as many ways as possible to as many people as possible.” 


Olivet’s PRPs share their stories through a variety of media outlets to gain this maximum number of readers. Some include: the Olivet website, the Olivet magazine, twitter/social media, traditional news outlets (radio, TV, newspapers), niche publications, and local government and civic groups. Certain websites, such as triblocal and readmedia, actually allow Olivet to post their news releases directly to their websites.

Warfel left us with two pieces of advice. First, learn how to make journalists happy. In doing this, you create a partnership with the media, thus better connecting to the target audience.

The second piece of advice: don’t let your ego get in the way. This is perhaps the most universal piece of advice Warfel gave that day. As writers, we have to be confident in our abilities while also having the confidence to admit our weaknesses. We write better stories, connect to more people, and accomplish our goals more efficiently when we use our talents together.

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