We all know a good story when we see one. From your go-to cocktail party anecdote to a moving account of overcoming the odds – stories make us laugh, educate us and often compel us to take action.
Storytelling is a critical component of nonprofit communications. And while many cause-focused organizations have compelling and exiting stories to share, they often lack the resources and staff bandwidth to do so effectively.
In order to help nonprofits better share their stories, Georgetown University's Center for Social Impact Communication and the Meyer Foundation recently released Stories Worth Telling: A Guide to Strategic and Sustainable Nonprofit Storytelling—a comprehensive set of research and best practices designed to build storytelling capacity among small nonprofits.
So what makes a story compelling?
There are five essential building blocks:
- An Effective Character - Stories should contain a single, compelling character that is relatable to the audience and who is comfortable relaying specific details, memories and experiences.
- Trajectory - Stories should chronicle something that happens—an experience, journey, transformation, or discovery—but they don’t need to be a linear, sequential recounting every time.
- Authenticity - Stories should show, rather than tell, the audience about the character’s transformation, using rich details and featuring the character’s own voice, devoid of jargon.
- Action-Oriented Emotions - Stories should convey emotions that move people to act, and marry these with clear, easy-to-find pathways to get them to take action.
- A Hook - Stories should capture the audience’s attention as quickly as possible, giving them a sense of whose story it is and what is at stake.
Effective storytelling is one of the greatest challenges facing small organizations, but resources like this can go a long way in helping nonprofits demonstrate their impact in long-lasting ways.
It’s a pretty exciting day here at Weber Shandwick – especially for us on the Social Impact Practice, as Weber just released our second annual Corporate Citizenship Report showcasing our work as a firm and with our clients to positively impact our global community throughout the course of 2013.
We take “engaging always” seriously at Weber. Striving to be a good corporate citizen is truly at the core of everything we do – both as individuals and as a company. Whether it’s giving back to our communities around the world, maintaining a strong code of conduct across all of our work or creating increasingly “green” office environments, we’re dedicated to making a positive impact every day.
We’re proud to say we’ve taken our commitment a step further with this year’s report, by using the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G4 Index as a framework for reporting on sustainability issues material related to our business. You can learn more about the index and how we’re incorporating them here.
As an agency with such a growing global footprint, we’re excited to be part of the conversation that’s exploring how companies can continue driving robust business results, while also delivering meaningful impact for communities. We have both a responsibility and an incredible opportunity to help address the complex issues we face in the world today. Suffice it to say, it’s an exciting place to be.
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Nan Palmero.
Now that a couple weeks have passed since the interactive portion of South By Southwest (SXSW), what stands out as the Next Big Thing?
Wearable technology? Sure. The SXSW tradeshow floor was a sea of start-ups touting new ways to make clothes “smarter.” 3-D printing technology? Absolutely. Oreo set up an installation that printed edible cookies customized by Twitter’s trending topics at any particular moment. (If that doesn’t make sense, it’s okay. I stood there mesmerized by it but didn’t really understand it myself.)
But with Julian Assange and Edward Snowden as conference speakers — both by video, of course — it’s no surprise that in addition to technology hardware, the big themes this year were big data and privacy. (Are you sick of hearing the term “big data” yet?) On the privacy front, World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee noted that the Internet can simultaneously be a tool for both freedom and oppression. “There are certain rights that should be more enshrined,” he said.
Beyond technology and the Internet, see if you can spot the theme with these three conference speakers:
- Statistician and writer Nate Silver said his biggest fear with his new FiveThirtyEight project is that his inflated stardom will make it too easy to venture in ill-advised areas. "When you’re somebody’s boss, you don’t get pushback on your bullshit ideas,” he told attendees.
- During a question-and-answer session with fashion entrepreneur Sophia Amoruso, someone asked how she deals with complicated issues at her vintage clothing company Nasty Gal. Amoruso replied, “When confronted by a problem, I ask a lot of people what they think.”
- And then there’s astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who made “curiosity” the theme of his keynote address. “Kids turn over rocks. It’s how they learn. We tend to tell people the answer and that denies them the opportunity to find out.”
The common theme? Question the world around you and surround yourself with people who question you. Perhaps that idea isn’t the Next Big Thing, but it’s certainly something that can help us discover what is.
Weber Shandwick is the agency partner for Bank of America.
Mentoring is proven to help women succeed, but what happens when women are too busy to connect during the work day? Geraldine Laybourne, founder and former CEO of Oxygen Media, grappled with this problem, and she decided to incorporate mentoring into her morning routine. After she received an overwhelming number of requests for advice and mentorship, Laybourne began inviting young female professionals to join her on her morning walk around the Central Park Reservoir in New York City. The walks quickly became popular and women took it upon themselves to expand them beyond New York to include cities across the United States and around the world.
On March 8, to coincide with International Women’s Day, Bank of America and Vital Voices came together to bring Global Mentoring Walks to more than 30 countries and three major U.S. cities: San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. The walks brought established and emerging leaders together for a morning of mentoring as they walked around their cities. Hosted by Vital Voices since 2008, Bank of America helped bring the walks to the global stage for the first time this year.
At each event, prominent women leaders like Sally Field kicked off the walk and discussed the benefits of supporting emerging women leaders. A walk also took place in Mexico City, where Bank of America and Vital Voices hosted a Global Ambassadors Program, which is another mentorship opportunity for emerging women leaders in the developing world, where female executives are paired with emerging leaders for a week of intensive mentoring and business training.
Weber Shandwick is proud to have partnered with the bank and Vital Voices to support this initiative and extend the power of mentoring and the mentoring walks to all women through social media as the bank and Vital Voices drive the conversation around women’s leadership and the power of mentorship. You can follow Bank of America and Vital Voices on Twitter to follow the conversation, or visit the Global Mentoring Walk website to see more photos.
This post was authored by Sarah Bingol.
Weber Shandwick Japan is currently working with IPG sister group McCann Worldgroup Japan, in a pro-bono joint effort to raise awareness and understanding of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, or MND.
ALS is a terminal disease that is characterised by the gradual weakening and atrophying of the muscles of the entire body, while bodily sensation and cognitive function remain intact. It is a devastating illness that can strike anyone at any time, but the cause and cure remain unknown. The progression of ALS is extremely rapid, with the average life expectancy being three to five years after diagnosis.
Planning Director at McCann Erickson Japan, Hiro Fujita, was diagnosed with ALS in 2010 at the age of 31. Since then, he has established the END ALS Association - with three clear, strong objectives:
1. Help find a cure
2. Build awareness
3. Provide support to ALS patients
To assist in his mission, Hiro has also written a book “99% THANK YOU. Things Even ALS Can't Take Away.” It is a short ‘diary’ that expresses Hiro’s raw thoughts and emotions before and after diagnosis, which he wrote on a computer connected to an eye-tracking system. Describing ALS, he writes:
“I’m writing these words with my eyes…now, the only things I can move are my left index finger and my face… Eventually, I will become a prisoner of my own body and will only be able to move my eyes. But I believe… the eyes can still say a lot”.
Despite the limitations posed by this condition, Hiro continues his work as a Planning Director for McCann Erickson Japan, going to the office once a week and working from home on other days.
Weber Shandwick assists Hiro and the END ALS Association through pro-bono contributions of PR consulting services, media relations and communications support as required.
An English-language version of Hiro’s book, “99% THANK YOU. Things Even ALS Can't Take Away” is now available in e-book format in select Amazon.com, iTunes and Kobo marketplaces. Proceeds from sales will go toward fulfilling the objectives of the END ALS Association.
More information about the END ALS Association is available via the association’s website, their Facebook page and Hiro’s blog.