Are you hooked on Hopium? You just “hope” that Millenials are going to do a mea culpa and re-engage with the Church?
So this single concept is usually what stops people in their tracks when they consider developing their organizational storytelling strategy.
Your typical non-profit/NGO, Church, or do-gooder company has a broad mission – helpin’ folks, of course – and then they have their targeted mission. We don’t have to go too far into this idea, but it’s usually helping youths with education, disease, mentoring, cancer, etc. So inevitably, the stories that come across their desks are a lot of the Hard Luck variety. Not all these stories end well, but some do, and you want to tell a smattering of both – because that’s what life is like!
As awful as it sounds, the worse the situation, generally, the better the story. I digress. The bread and butta of any content calendar will be the people who want to do nothing but tell it to the world, show off, inspire others, get some attention, feel good about their triumph, and just move on with their lives, satisfied with their 15 minutes of fame.
BUT! There will be a number of folks who are too embarrassed or ashamed to get in front of a camera and share their pain. It’s natural. Don’t fault them for it. But don’t give up either.
This is a short but effective list of ways to hunt people down and convince them that sharing their story with you & a couple thousand other people (maybe millions, no telling), is a good, nay, great idea:
1. Communicate to them that they will inspire others.
None of these tactics will be lies, or deceptive in any way – and this is really the truth behind any story that you’ll want to tell on behalf of your organization. People relate to other people that are suffering – because that is what life is about! Buddha. Life is nothing but a series of overcoming obstacles, perfecting your spirituality, and most of all, finding meaning within the experience. I think that’s what people are most afraid of during hard times. That they’ll get through their cancer/bankruptcy/addiction/loss of a child/etc, and there will be no greater message on the other side. YOUR JOB is to show the meaning.
2. Tell them what their story means to you.
Continuing from the last point, when you tell people how their story has affected you, and what meaning you derived, assures them that you’re not just trying to make a spectacle of their pain.
3. Tell them straight up that you need them.
Be honest. You’re trying to run a publication/blog and you need to tell great, inspiring stories. Maybe, just maybe, they have a sense of obligation to your Parish or XYZ Company and are willing to help you out.
4. Use the collar!
In the Catholic Church, we call it ‘using the collar’, because when a priest asks for a favor, people generally comply. But this applies to any form of “top level” authority – executive director, ceo, or anyone with informal authority can work too. But as a rule, the more the better.
5. You can be a little corny.
It’s feels like you’re using a shameless tactic, but people like this sort of thing anyway. Ask them about a favorite book or movie that really touched their heart. Odds are is isn’t going to be Transformers. It’s going to be something like “Ray” (Charles), or Jerry McGuire, or The Kite Runner. People love hearing stories based in reality about overcoming demons, and facing down evil, and following a gift down a road and not knowing where it’s going. The point of this is to get people thinking about life in general, and how although none of our stories are the same, we all deal with tough situations that mold us into better people.
I have used all of these tactics on multiple occasions and they work.
And better yet, when people are ready and willing to tell it – which is, in a way, re-living the story – it can be a therapeutic experience for the both of you. So get busy finding those subjects and once you do – use these 5 tactics to smooth the sales pitch and create an opportunity for healing that is REAL and needed!