Stories, stories, stories.
In my communications role with Save the Children, I have come to realize that capturing and sharing individual stories is very important. Already three months into my assignment, I take this part of my work for granted. Yet recently I was asked by my friend Mahendra the “why” question – so why you capture these case studies, it’s just one person, one family, one example you feature. It’s a good question. In the world we come from, numbers matter, donors look into numbers of scale, governments, media, the general public are interested in interventions that influence many. So why focus on one individual?
The answer is as simple as one word, and as complex as the science that explains human behavior. Emotion. After all, our behaviors and choices are more often than not influenced by emotions. And what better way to move your emotions, than to tell you a story that will stimulate your imagination, or to which you will relate personally? I am a marketer and I know numbers. Oh, yes, I can talk statistics and trends, and graphs and charts. But will this influence you to volunteer, to help, to donate, to support our programs? Will this drive you to action? You’ll see the numbers and then soon after you’ll forget. But if I tell you a story, a good one, an impactful one, it will stay with you for life. Numbers you read with your mind. Stories you get with your heart. It’s the power of story telling.
When I was a kid, my grandma used to take me to long hiking trips in the Bulgarian mountains. These lasted for weeks, we were climbing hills, conquering peaks, walking for hours and for days. I was only 6 years old at that time, as any kid at that age I was full of energy to play, walk, run. I could not just sit still and contemplate for hours a forest, a high mountain lake; scenery meant little to me. And as any kid at that age I had to be entertained. So, my grandmother told me stories. She was a never-ending source of tales and legends. I was only 6 years old at that time, yet I still keep in my mind the vivid image of Orpheus, who enchanted with his singing people, birds and animals. Or that of a young couple in love, who were separated by the whims of the gods, who turned them into mountains to keep them apart. These mountains still stand, the mountain skirts close to one another, but never reaching each other, like the hands of the couple who can never touch again. One is very high, rough and rocky, there are only few rivers there; this mountain used to be the man, who, despite his grief, will never cry. The other mountain is full of lakes and rivers, this used to be the woman, who is still crying for her beloved one. I fell in love with the mountains because of those stories… when I see a mountain spring, I can’t help but think of the tears of the young woman.
Stories, stories, stories.
So big part of my job now is to tell you stories. About real life in a parallel world, which is far away from my, probably your, everyday reality. A world that I, and probably you, don’t think about, when the day ends… But it is there, and the way to keep it alive in my and in your mind, is to tell you a story. To show you. In words, photos, videos. To talk to your heart.
To do a better job in telling the world what we do and to drive people to action, with my communications team in Bungoma this past week we spent two fantastic days on training how to gather, construct, share, capture in photos and videos good case studies.
So it is as simple as that – “The power of a good story moves people emotionally.”