These past few months I’ve been traveling around the state talking with staff at our partner nonprofit orgs about their everyday communications challenges.
You know, nuts and bolts stuff like “how do you get good photos for blog posts?” and “do I need to have both a twitter feed and a facebook page?”
The one thing that keeps coming up is: stories. “We want to be able to easily tell stories about our volunteers and workers,” they tell me.
Everyone feels that telling good stories about people and the work they do is really important to being able to attract new supporters, raise money, get some public visibility and basically boost the profile of their work.
And they’re right. Telling good stories is key to all of these things. But most of us aren’t professional journalists, and most of us are already strapped for time. How to quickly and easily write and share simple yet compelling stories about good people doing good work?
So I created a template, that I think will allow people of any skill set to plug in some basic info and emerge with an effective story about them that quickly spells out the work they do, and hopefully inspires others to get involved.
It’s called the Six Paragraph Story Template.
Here’s how it works.
Use the template text that’s in bold, and just insert details about the person or project where you see [the brackets.] You’ll also need a nice, close-up photo of the person being featured.
- 1. Meet [SUBJECT FIRST AND LAST NAMES]
- 2. For the past [TIMEFRAME], [FIRST NAME] has been working in [PROJECT PLACE] to [SIMPLE, REAL WORLD DESCRIPTION OF GOAL OF PROJECT.]
- 3. [FIRST NAME] sees this work as being incredibly important to [BROADER IMPACT OF THE WORK.]
- 4. [QUOTE FROM SUBJECT ABOUT WHY THEY THINK THE WORK IS IMPORTANT.]
- 5. [FIRST NAME]’s work is made possible by the [NAME OF YOUR ORG OR PROGRAM], which provides opportunities for Americans of all ages to get involved in transformational development projects in West Virginias local communities [OR SIMILAR DESCRIPTION].
- 6. Are you ready to change your world? Want to learn more?
Wondering what a story built from the template actually reads like? On the right here is a fictional example I put together earlier. (Thanks to my lovely wife Debbie for being a good sport.) Click on it to read.
This shouldn’t take you much more than about 10 minutes to write, and contains all the information you need to create quick, effective content, the goal of which is to get people to click on your web address to learn more.
Don’t write too much. If you try and cram too much information in there, the story gets too long and you might lose the reader’s interest. Keep it short, and keep them wanting more.