Have you saved the cat lately?

About the author: JD Bruewer is a senior communications specialist at Hamilton County Job and Family Services.

About the author: JD Bruewer is a senior communications specialist at Hamilton County Job and Family Services.

By JD Bruewer

To keep my writing fresh, I try to learn from other types of writers. I've always been fascinated by the mechanics of movie writing. The story moves from beat to beat. The "beats" are the key moments of the film. They include "Set-up," "Theme Stated," "Catalyst," and "Debate."

One of my favorite books (and websites) about screenwriting is Blake Snyder's "Save the Cat." It breaks down the structure of stories and offers advice on how to outline any story. The name of the book comes from a scene Snyder said is too often missing from films today. It's when the protaganist does something kind that makes the audience like him. Blake argues that it is essential because if we don't like the protagonist, we won't care about the story. In the end, it's all about the story.

In movies, the scene often involves a tough guy showing his soft side. The cop who lets a bad guy off the hook; the soldier who doesn't shoot; and the boss who cuts some slack are all cat savers. In PR, how the cat is saved depends on the protagonist. Ideally there is a person or group of people at the center. If the protagonist is a brand or product, try to embue some personality into it.

The Gorilla Glue Co. does this well in its marketing. The product is glue and tape, but the protagonist is a giant gorilla who repeatedly saves the cat with the product. But those are scripted commercials. In public relations, you can't control all of the script -- you have to work with the facts you have. You have to find the scene where the cat is being saved.

If you look at our overall marketing and communications as the film, you can be on the lookout for those scenes and make sure they don't end up on the cutting room floor. When your organization, or one of its members, does something kind, share the story.

Avoid the urge to hammer home how this fits your mission or purpose. What you are promoting here is likeability. Save the cat scenes are not big moments, they are subtle moments that underscore the likeability of the main character. The same goes in PR, the save the cat stories you share don't shape your brand, product or organization, but they make it more likeable.