Don’t forget that every story has a beginning

Every story has a beginning, middle and end. But many public relations professionals neglect to emphasize what can be the most important part: the beginning. Let me explain by giving you two examples.

At a large bank where I was once employed, I started working with a new regional president who had transferred to my area from another region. I read her company bio, which talked about the many positions she had held at the company in the decades she had worked there. But it didn’t specify her first position. So I asked her.

She told me, “I started as a part-time teller in a small town.” Bingo!

I made sure to add that fact to her bio and mention that in all the media pitches and news releases about her. It rounded out her profile. It cast her in a different light, not only with the news media and the public, but also with the company’s own employees. She truly was not someone who had power simply given to her through favoritism or nepotism. She had earned it by working her way up the proverbial career ladder, starting on the very first rung.

(By the way, I also determined that she was the first woman to serve as the company’s regional president in that state, and I made sure to point that out also because the media and the public love words that end in the letters “st”).

My second example involves another regional president that I worked with previously at the same bank. He started his career at the company in the mailroom. He had grown up in a small Oregon town and picked field crops as a child to earn money. He told me he sought the mailroom job because he wanted work where he could stay dry.

Through his hard work and excellent results, he, too, rose to the rank of regional president. It was a great story, thanks to the great beginning.

When that regional president was appointed to the local Federal Reserve System board of governors, I sent out a release to announce the news. I made sure to mention that here was someone who had started in the mailroom at the bank and was now serving in this prestigious federal position.

What could have been a one- or two-sentence brief with a postage stamp-size mug shot in the “People on the Move” section became practically a full article¬†and huge photo in the state’s largest daily newspaper. Why? Because people enjoy reading Horatio Alger-type stories¬†that detail how, through honest, hard work, a person can succeed in the world.

When you are working with a new executive in your organization or someone who has been promoted, don’t forget to ask how their story started.

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