The Source


‘The Hero’s Journey’ Workshop Enhances PR Professionals Storytelling Efforts

By Stephanie Thara

Gary Goldhammer, Director of Creative Strategy for Hill+Knowlton Strategies US, kicked off the “Hero’s Journey” Writing Workshop this morning with a jolt of energy as he passionately explained why storytelling should be the centerpiece of each and every public relations and marketing campaign.

“Storytelling matters because you feel it,” said Goldhammer. “People retain 70 percent of information via a story so you should tell the story first and then build a fully integrated marketing campaign surrounding it.”

Stories must follow a certain pattern: The Hero’s Journey. Goldhammer took the 30 or so PR professionals down the path of the hero’s journey through emotional videos, compelling examples and detailed steps. The steps outlined by Goldhammer are as follows:

  1. Universal Truth: The story should resonate with all audiences, transcend through languages and shouldn’t need sound to be compelling.
  2. Emotional Hero: There should be a construct of feelings over logic. Audience should identify with someone(s) or something in the story.
  3. Twist of Fate: There must be a change that takes place in the story; an unanticipated turn of events.
  4. Transformation: The problem is resolved and a new truth is revealed. This should inspire the audience to take action.

After going through the steps, Goldhammer placed the power into the hands of the attendees. PR professionals gathered in small groups to develop their own stories. Each group went through the exercise of creating their own hero’s journey and then pitched it to Goldhammer for a faux $40,000 production budget.

There were all types of storylines—a young Muslim girl who overcame hate through the understanding of her classmate; a couple in need financial help who turned to Experian for support; a working mother who realized her family was more important; the transcendence of love and happiness brought on by a dating app; a Huntington Beach surfer (and shark!) finding solace at SeaLegs at the Beach; a budding artist fighting for her right to be educated at the Orange County School of the Arts; a young woman who overcame neglect as a child to grow up and become a teacher for the underserved; and the possibilities of an auto trade school when least expected.

The event was a great success, thanks to the attendees, OCPRSA Programs Committee, sponsors (Hill+Knowlton and PR Newswire) and venue (Vanguard University).

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