Stories are central to people understanding and engaging with your organisation. But finding them can take a little bit of effort and a lot of conversation.
Service users or beneficiaries are the obvious primary source of stories and it’s always best to speak to them directly. Taking that bit of extra time to just ‘chat’ can uncover things that a business-like conversation could miss.
Talking about what happened at the weekend, their families or even the weather develops a relationship that can uncover all kinds of stories you weren’t looking for but that could make great content for your organisation.
You might find an adaptation their hairdresser has made to allow them to enjoy a bit of pampering, a special friendship they’ve developed with a neighbour who now walks their dog or vital repairs they’ve been attempting at the weekend because their landlord isn’t doing the job.
The same principle applies to staff. Their professional achievements and passions are a great starting point for opinion pieces and sector profiles. But there may also be those personal tales that really bring them to life, both for the media and for internal audiences. The more people see an individual as a person with a life they can relate to, the more they can engage with them in a positive way.
And don’t forget staff in roles outside of your central vision. Maintenance, catering, apprentices and volunteers are a rich seam to tap.
Regular conversations are key to finding these stories. In an ideal world, gatekeepers like area coordinators and managers would email you with ideas every week but we all know that doesn’t happen.
Pick up the phone. Don’t email or message. It’s so often during the idle chat, or ten minutes into a conversation that the real gems emerge, the event or conversation is suddenly recalled.
Remember too that although a story might not be ideal for an approach to the media, it could work perfectly for your social media channels or your website. And if you have a fantastic picture or Smartphone video clip to go with it, its power increases.
The only other things to bear in mind are your key messages and values. Before you get too carried away with a corking story, check it fits in with them, that it says what you need it to about your organisation. Tackling damp on a Sunday morning because the landlord isn’t maintaining the accommodation isn’t a story to share if the landlord is you!