Newhouse alum Thaler Pekar on “Why and How True Stories Matter”

Thaler Pekar ’85, CEO of Thaler Pekar & Partners and a recognized expert on business storytelling, gave Newhouse students an inspiring presentation, “Why and How True Stories Matter,” last month. Newhouse students, especially those who are passionate about storytelling, and professors were in attendance at the event.

Pekar started the presentation explaining how she was able to find features by digging deep into companies’ small, emotional stories. She then asked the audience to share a story of an object, and, most importantly, talked about why true stories matter.

First, Pekar said, a story matters because emotion matters. Emotion is the glue that holds people’s memories together. People tend to remember these emotional moments and believe them. Also, one person’s story can trigger a memory for another, and this resonance is what makes a story engaging.

I personally love the idea of resonance. The only way to get the audience’s attention and persuade them is to make them relate to and understand your story. No one likes a tirade, or a self-indulgent rant, but everyone likes engaging stories. Trying to find the emotional resonance is a great approach to develop a successful story.

Additionally, Pekar said, a good storyteller is always curious. This means you need to pay attention to everything around you in order to find the most engaging stories.

Also, Ms. Pekar solved my question of how to think small. In my Multimedia Storytelling class, Professor Hong asked us to develop a public service announcement by “thinking small.”

“Search your own stories,” said Ms. Pekar.

By looking at the small, emotional moments of my own life, I can find ways to relate to others through my storytelling in my career. It is a great and easy way to make a story authentic and engaging.

This presentation was definitely valuable as I look to a future in public relations. First, Ms. Pekar provided us three approaches to tell a successful story and engage audiences. Also, storytelling is not only about telling the story that’s right in front of you, but instead about digging out the hidden stories.

As public relations professionals, we can help clients redefine themselves and send out the right message with this skill set. Additionally, in the bigger picture, we are able to help people in need to be heard by using Pekar’s storytelling techniques.

Yue Shi is graduate student studying public relations

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