"Living" a great story

Updated: Feb 4, 2019

In the competitive industry of PR, there are many fresh-faced candidates with exceptional resumes; but in order to clearly present a distinct brand, one must be their own distinct breed. This can be accomplished through the art of storytelling. This technique helps cut through the bombardment of information that consumers face in an attention-economy. But what is there to a story? - surely it goes from beginning to middle to end, but there’s layers of complexity that make some tales more salient and memorable than others. Steve Clayton, Chief Storyteller of Microsoft, reminds his team that when choosing their company’s language they should consider more than the structure and think of the stage, the performance and the details: “entertain [the target public]. Fill the story with characters, texture and ups and downs”.

I, Heather Pruim, define myself in the PR world by continually pursuing my avocational passions beyond the academic and professional communications realm. While some question why I invest so much time and energy into “leisure” interests, I see this commitment as essential to building my strength of character. My adaptive ability allows me to seek out stories, practice how to communicate my experiences in compelling ways, and thus ultimately become a more masterful storyteller while embracing this journey.

When I think of the most influential storytellers in my life, my grandparents are at the top of the list. The wild tales of their youth and their sage advice have inspired me to live adventurously. The great outdoors have offered me endless fascination - it is something that has universal appeal, is nearly free, and can be as restorative or challenging as desired! By finding nature’s narratives I have become emboldened to tell the tale of conservation. This has parlayed into action as I have served as a township environmental commissioner and have become a beekeeper to support the natural pollination process.

Storytelling serves as the thread of human life, often utilizing fundamental interest in characteristics of tragedy or bravery in order to maintain societal values and tradition. Never has this been more clearly personified than in the fire service. All of my male relatives have been or are firefighters and I always cherished hearing their heroic conversations over the family table. At the age of 16 I became the first female to complete national firefighter training and accreditation in my hometown through the junior firefighter program. After becoming a full-fledged firefighter, the stories have continued to be vital in the aspect of training and in developing camaraderie.

These momentous roles in my life have spawned out of the pure pursuit of interest and have allowed me to become more experienced and diverse. My character development on an individual level has lent way to PR by inspiring me to seek career opportunities in the entertainment industry. This summer I worked at A+E Networks, whose website paraphrases that they “are a global media and entertainment brand portfolio that finds, cultivates, illuminates and markets entertainment content to worldwide audiences… [they] got to where [they] are by being great listeners, innovators and idea movers, specializing in the human experience.” This internship experience shed light on the business and art form that is storytelling and the lessons I have learned there professionally have helped me evolve as an individual. In the words of Microsoft’s Steve Clayton, “don’t just tell any story. Tell a great story”, and I shall add that one should live a great story as well.

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