Today’s guest post is written by Lisa Gerber.

I’ve had a very challenging week leaving me with only one thing on my mind I can write about: My dog Jackson.

Jackson is very big and grew fast so he has bad joints causing him a lot of pain. When the bones don’t grow at the right pace compared to each other, they don’t meet well in the elbows and knees and all sorts of problems ensue.

Things have come to a head lately and our local vet just wasn’t able to help us. So I did what anyone very concerned fur mom would do. I turned to the Internet for research.

In the course of my very targeted, long tail search, I came across an article in the Seattle Times titled “An Ailing Pup’s Owner Goes the Distance to Get Help.”

If you have a pet you love, you’ll understand the ambiguity in the article title – is it the pup or the owner who is ailing?

The story immediately tugged at me. It told how Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital came to the rescue for this man and his dog’s issues. The “Mayo Clinic” for animals, it said, is only four hours from me and I had no idea.

I called in the morning and made an appointment for the following week. Three days of visits, radiographs, CT scans, and arthroscopic surgery later, the ROI on that one Seattle Times story was <cough> more than decent.

The article was dated 2003.

No one asked me how I heard about them. And because the nature of their business is for me to pick up the phone and call, they have no digital path with which to record my conversion from that one story.

Stories do work. We know that.

We fight the battle of justifying the expense of PR. John-Henry Scherck blogged for us recently explaining the SEO value of PR links declines over time. But the storytelling value does not.

The Two Missing Links in Your Content:

  1. Be the super hero. Don’t just make a human connection. Solve your customers’ problems in way that makes them feel like you are coming to their rescue. Each and every organization should be in existence for that purpose. And therefore, each every organization has that story(ies) to share.
  2. Don’t rely on technology alone to track it for you. Please, for the love of all things good in your storytelling, integrate your traditional with your digital tactics. Keep an inventory of your stories on the web, and make sure your point of sale and front line people are asking the right tracking questions. Don’t just say “internet.” Ask them which story. I know a majority of people don’t know how they found you, but for those people to whom you “came to their rescue?” They will remember, and you can then assign ROI to that piece of content.

One article from 2003. Can you imagine how much revenue that has brought in for them in the past nine years? And yet, they say PR is just a bunch of fluff. We have to do the extra work to do our own PR.

Thanks to the Seattle Times for helping me find the solution to my problems, and for letting me borrow the photo from the article that stole my heart. Jackson is recovering nicely and will be a much happier dog for it.