Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Associations have stories to share. Spotlight them.

Back in college, my pr prof reminded us that “the guy that catches the biggest fish doesn’t walk home via the alley.”

Sometimes, we as association professionals don’t take time to communicate the wonderful stories without our associations and nonprofits.

So as I was reading John Haydon’s Stupidly simple Facebook Page features guide, I was a bit surprised that he started with “a word about storytelling:”“Stories are the heart and soul of your organization. They’re the thousands of tiny little living threads that bond your organization and your fans together. What makes a good story? Think about the thousands of stories throughout your organization and the dignity and hope they often bring out in others! Dignity and hope are feelings. And, while people may not remember the specifics of each story, they will remember how you made them feel.”

Wow. An extremely important message for association professionals: membership, marketing, education, executives!

Story telling is not new.
  • Jesus told parables (which were poignant stories to reinforce His message).
  • Way back in the 1950s, the popular show Dragnet opened with the announcer stating, "The story you are about to see is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent." Real stories were key to the show’s success.
  • Don Hewitt, founder and producer of the long-running and highly acclaimed CBS show 60 Minutes often said the key to its success was telling good stories.
  • Politicians and political strategies today have changed stories to “narrative.”
What kind of stories work?
  1. Stories about how your members are “using” information/knowledge gained from the association.
  2. Stories that show your mission at work.
  3. Personality sketches of members or member companies.
  4. Stories that show the personality and culture of your organization.
  5. Stories that highlight your programs and services at work (by members).
Where you can find them?
  1. At conferences and other in-person events.
  2. Calls or emails from members to your staff.
  3. Calls for stories sent to members.
Where to share them?
  1. YouTube video
  2. Pinterest and/or Flicr photos
  3. Posts to Website
  4. Annual report
  5. Testimonials for member and/or donor appeals
  6. Blog posts
At the end of the month (July 30), Jim Schnurbusch of OrgStory will share a guest post of how he uses storytelling to build associations.

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