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Posted by on Jun 17, 2014

Don’t reinvent the wheel when telling your stories

Originally posted on Indiana Nonprofit Summit blog

by Andrew Hayenga:

Too often, when I’m working with one of our nonprofit partners, I find that their best stories are not being leveraged to their potential, if they haven’t been overlooked all together.

You don’t need someone to tell you when you have a great story, one that conveys your mission to a T or celebrates everything that is right with your work and its supporters. You feel it. You just know. Sometimes these stories seem to come in passing across a boardroom table or during office small talk, but they need to be catalogued.

Great stories make communications and marketing so much easier. A great story can, and should, be turned into a great blog post, media pitch, appeals letter, Facebook share, Instagram image, tweet and newsletter feature.

When you have a great story, go with it and leverage it. It’s not enough to identify a single quote to put in donor letter or a single tweet. Research it, interview the players, secure photos and collect social media IDs for tagging. Bring that story to life, and save yourself time by communicating it in a consistent way across your communications channels, rather than trying to drum up fresh content for each and every platform.

Here are some thoughts to consider as you go about curating your best stories:

Set aside time to identify your best stories
Make it a part of your weekly meeting agenda. Have your communications manager sit with other staff members for 15 minutes each week. However it works into your office dynamics, commit time to talk about stories and have anecdotal conversations. When a story has your whole team excited, you know you have a potential winner.

Consider the story’s value by channel
When you think you’ve got a great story to share, consider it by channel. How would you write it up in a blog? How could it work as the centerpiece of an appeals letter? Will it fit with your social media efforts? If you consider these questions from the outset, your work to generate content for all of your communications channels just got a whole lot easier.

Don’t reinvent the wheel for each channel
I often start my management of a great story by writing a blog article. It gets all the facts out there and in a narrative way that people can easily engage. Using the blog article as baseline, it is easy to repurpose the content – making just minor formatting tweaks – for your other channels. Think of it this way: the story’s basic facts and the elements that make it great should be universal. Share the same story in the same way whether you’re blogging it, pitching it to a media member, posting it to Facebook, etc.


andrew

Andrew Hayenga is the Director of Nonprofit Services for Bohlsen Group, a full-service PR agency in Indianapolis that is currently in retained partnerships with more than 20 nonprofit organizations to provide a range of communications services. He was previously a communications manager for a national education nonprofit and spent 10 years as a television news reporter