Level Up: Storytelling with Dmitri Vietze

by Feb 16, 2018

How can you apply storytelling to business, and why is it an effective marketing approach? Dmitri Vietze, CEO of Rock Paper Scissors PR, emphasized that people love listening to a captivating story, and it can be applied to business in many ways depending on how you think about it. The quote listed below is a great explanation for why it’s so effective!

“Stories are not purely transactional conversations.”—Dmitri Vietze

A few specific points he discussed in depth include the following:

  • Using stories is a great way to get attention, maintain attention, and generate word of mouth when pitching the press (or anyone such as investors or customers)
  • Specific traits that make stories stick
  • Tell a business story through your offering, value proposition, cases, and success stories
  • Understand how content marketing, thought leadership, and events can help you tell your story
  • Know how timing impacts your stories

Below are notes from his presentation. You can view his slides here.

  • Media always wants content, but they don’t want boring press releases all the time.
  • Content that gets emotional responses gets attention.
  • According to research, certain chemicals get activated when people listen to stories.
  • Always ask yourself, “What’s the story?”
  • Stories are fun to repeat for the media, customers, investors, employers, etc.
  • Have you heard a business story that’s been repeated multiple times?
  • What do you think makes stories worth repeating?
  • Some stories and ideas are sticky. What makes them stick?

An approach to use when developing a story (from the book “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by Chip Heath & Dan Heath):

  • Simple – find the core of any idea
  • Unexpected – grab people’s attention by surprising them
  • Concrete – make sure an idea can be grasped and remembered later
  • Credible – give an idea believability
  • Emotional – help people see the importance of an idea
  • Stories – empower people to use an idea through narrative

Where do you start a business story?

Businesses can become the characters, but interactions between businesses can also be characters. Start to think of your products or services as solutions.

  • What is your value proposition?
  • What missing need does your service or product fill?
  • What are your success stories? Instead of fighting trends, how can you embrace them?
  • Do you have features that compliment an existing service or product?
  • Have you considered a new use case?
  • What about mind-blowing innovation of a particular service?

Additional pitch topics

  • Partnerships or significant client announcements
  • Helps to build your story and give a 3-D perspective of what you’re doing
  • Benchmarks (especially for B2B)
  • Hires or new offices
  • Content marketing
    • White papers
    • Articles (blogs, guest posts, op eds)
    • Infographics
    • Webinars
  • Events
  • Acquisitions
  • Investment activities

Timing of PR

Give yourself enough time for your PR!


  • Documenting and posting things along the way helps you talk to people all the time, and it allows for story finding later.
  • How do you sell a testimonial experience? You can play into societal debates and differentiators.
  • How much “runway” or time should you give yourself for PR? Usually, try to give yourself at least six weeks.