Communication Arts‘ March/April 2019 edition is the 25th annual Interactive Showcase – celebrating websites, games, and environmental events that break new ground in communications and design. In a move that should shock absolutely no one, storytelling is at the heart of just about every project highlighted. You’ll find lots of inspiration here for using storytelling to attract new supporters to your cause.
Real People Tell Their Own Stories
In 2017, a team from HuffPost interviewed 1,700 people across America about housing, crime, inequality, the economic future, and more topics of community concern. In 2018, HuffPost launched an interactive website of these interviews, Listen to America. It’s a stunning mix of visual art, audio recordings, and inventive navigation that evoke the sights and sounds of HuffPost’s road trip. And we can learn a lot from the choices they make in depicting those sights and sounds.
Takeaways from HuffPost’s Listen to America
- GIVE VOICE TO THE DATA. It’s easy to cite numbers and facts and build a wall between the audience and the cause. But use an individual voice – whether it’s recorded as audio or as words on a page or any other storytelling device you can dream up – when you want to make the data real. [Aside: Need help finding data? Here you go.]
- KEEP THE CAUSE UP-FRONT. HuffPost offers disparate ideas and conflicting opinions about each theme. Text quotes beside each speaker’s image anchor us to the theme, no matter where else the audio may take us. When you set out to tell an individual’s story, make sure it takes you back to your cause, every time.
Real People Tell Others’ Stories
For World Humanitarian Day 2017, the United Nations worked with Facebook to launch Not a Target – Teleprompter. The Facebook Live filter turned any mobile screen into a teleprompter, scrolling a script of a firsthand account of civilians’ peril in war zones. The campaign featured recordings of individuals reading the scripts on digital billboards and in tv and internet ads for World Humanitarian Day. Viewers signed an online petition to world leaders, urging them to do more to protect civilians caught in conflict.
Takeaways from #NotATarget
- MAKE THE ABSTRACT REAL. Most of us can’t imagine living under threat – whether it’s by gunfire, hunger, racism, or depression. Yet most of us are moved – sometimes even to action – when we hear the stories of real individuals surviving these threats. Here’s more about that.
- MATCH THE TOOL TO THE JOB. Social media can powerfully amplify your message and call-to-action. Your website collects data better though – especially when you are working to begin a long-term relationship with those attracted by your message. Use each platform mindfully to achieve your goals.
The UN and Huffpost had lots of money and time to lavish on these stories, but there’s plenty of no-cost/low-cost ideas here you can steal to promote your own stories. Email me if you need help getting started!