Tell Your Story

two people writing on large paper outside, bright sunny day

Storytelling is essential to your work and ongoing. The inception of an idea, its evolution, and the final result are key ingredients, so it’s important to document your process and plan for compelling communications. Carefully planned communications will motivate your work and engage stakeholders to build momentum, and ultimately, achieve success.

So, how do you get started? Drum roll please...identify your stakeholders! To tell your story, you must first develop a communications plan with clearly identified roles and responsibilities that are appropriate and reasonable to the number and diversity of your stakeholders.

Rose Scovel, AICP, Director of Capacity Building at Prosperity Indiana outlined the below questions in her presentation on Performance Metrics and Communication.

6 Questions to Consider for Compelling Communications:

  1. Who needs to be engaged for you to be successful?
  2. When do they need to be engaged?
  3. What level of engagement is appropriate?
  4. How will you communicate?
  5. How often will you communicate?
  6. Who controls the message?

The good news about these questions is that you have likely already laid the groundwork to answer them. Here are a few tips to help you get moving on your communications planning:

  1. Revisit your community asset map to familiarize yourself with the different groups. You’ll be able to tell whether those groups are likely to support you or stand in your way.
  2. To determine that appropriate “level of engagement”, check out the “Public Participation Continuum” developed by International Association of Public Participation (IAP2).
  3. Take note of all of your communications platforms. Determine the ways that you currently communicating and how effective they would be in reaching your stakeholders.
  4. Audit your current communications materials. Ask yourself if they are modern and eye-catching and how they are perceived or could be perceived.
  5.  Take a hard look at your planning documents. Think about your communications schedule and assigned roles and responsibilities.

Building a Team of Storytellers

Your team needs the right tools to succeed. To stay on message, you need an evolving database of information. We recommend using Google Drive or a document sharing platform that makes accessing information quick and easy. Developing a “Storytelling Toolkit” with supporting information to enhance your story will make it easier to initiate new supporters, provide information for existing supporters, and convert prospective supporters.

How to Build a Storytelling Toolkit

  • Mission statement and goals
  • Fast facts and influential statistics about the community and the project
  • Important anecdotes from staff, community members, supporters, local government, and other key stakeholders
  • News clippings and statements related to the community/project activities
  • High quality images of the community/project activities

Ask Your Storytellers to...

  1. Be on the lookout for that Kodak moment. Photos and short videos from the field are always helpful!
  2. Strike up conversation with people at your event/program. Ask them to write down memorable quotes from participants, supporters, and passersby.
  3. Reflect on their own advocate story. Encourage them to write short reflections about their experiences

"Stories are just data with a soul." - Brene Brown

Finding funding, building relationships, influencing policy, and gaining media support are all part of your recipe for success. Set up your story to engage the reader, so yes, it can be like a fairytale! Having a compelling protagonist who faces adversity and triumphs or learns from the process is always engaging. Your content is key, so do not communicate for the sake of communicating. Have purpose, and take note of your successful communications and adjust accordingly. If you find that one group responds better to personal stories as opposed to data, make a note in your planning documents.

Check out some inspiration and tips below, but you are good to go!

Communication Inspiration

4 Tips for Great E-Communications

  • Strive for a mobile-first design (Test it here)
  • Choose big, bold, high-quality photos and use less text
  • Use simple, easy-to-read fonts
  • Always link back to your website

And don't underestimate the power of Facebook

Check out these groups who are really nailing it.