How to Get Your NGO in the Media with Storytelling?

15/02/2011
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In the previous post, I was talking about the importance of storytelling for media reps and their audiences. The question is: how can you use storytelling to get your organization in the media? Here are a few ideas that might help you during your work:

• Character-driven story. Pick up one person whose story identifies with the story of your organization. It can be a staff member, a client, a volunteer if you’re an NGO, or a beneficiary of your activities. Tell the story of that character as lively and humanly as you can. It will carry your message across AND it will add an aura of humanity to what you do.
Example: here is Jacqueline Novogratz speaking about her organization, the Acumen Fund, bu using storytelling: http://www.ted.com/talks/jacqueline_novogratz_on_an_escape_from_poverty.html

• Action-driven story. Can you build your story on the dynamics of a plot and conflict with a common enemy? Journalists love conflict because it gives life to the story. Who are you fighting and why?
Example: GreenPeace is using an action-driven tale to introduce its mission: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVu9eawb1QY

• Atmosphere-driven story. Your activities take place in a location / moment of utter magic. Describe this magic and make people want to be a part of it – and of your organization and your story.
Example: the non-governmental organization Tawantinsuyu uses beauty and innocence to tell the story of their purpose: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x74b7t_the-forest-of-awakening_creation

• Emotion-driven story. People engage because they find themselves in your story.
Example: Animal Planet is using emotion to attract viewers for its programs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuJ64WsKmWc&playnext=1&list=PL2DD155BBEB748677

There are a few other things you might want to bear in mind when you prepare to get your story in the media:

  • Choose the media that will report on your story carefully. If you want your story to be told all over the place, go for the decision-makers. They may be more challenging to persuade, but it’s worth the effort.
  • Do your homework. Become familiar with the reporter you’re going to meet. Read the stories he or she wrote in the past on similar topics. Start the conversation with one of those stories.
  • Provide enough background without intoxicating the journalist. Make facts, figures and other background info easily available – in digital audio and video formats, plus put it online.
  • Stay available after the meeting in case questions arise.
  • Be pro-active. When a topic arises in the media, contact the journalist with your point of view even if the issue is marginal for your activity. Your pro-active approach will transform you into a source the reporter will remember and call back upon when he or she will need more information.

Hopefully if you follow these steps you will get your story in the media not once, but as many times as the reporter finds you trustworthy. Now it’s time to reflect upon your story. Who can tell your story the best? Then give a voice to that person – and enjoy the incoming benefits of your savvy media communication.

I focus on strategic communications, emotional and systemic intelligence and personal and organization leadership. I help leaders and future leaders to develop their strategic communication skills, to build reputable personal brands and to boost their team and organizational leadership. I support individuals, teams and organizations through advisory, training, coaching and mentoring services.

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