Uninvited but definitely welcome, a playful shelter dog I had out for a walk gently rested his head on my thigh as we took a breather on the steps of a storefront along the path. “Hondo,” a pit bull mix, dropped his head with a light sigh. His eyes glossed over into the distance, ignoring the morning traffic whizzing by. I almost fought back tears knowing I wouldn’t be able to take home another dog and would soon be escorting this sweet, quiet canine back into his kennel at the Santa Barbara Animal Shelter. But perhaps what stands out most about that walk, which happened over seven years ago, is that minutes earlier, I had been terrified of all pit bulls, purebred or otherwise.
Up until that point, the pit bull nonprofits and advocates of the world hadn’t quite been able to get through to me that these dogs aren’t actually vicious beasts with locking jaws. Hondo, on the other hand, proved to be the best spokesman for his breed. This encounter is one of the first things I think about when emphasizing to nonprofits the importance of sharing client profiles and success stories with the community, whether through a planned interview with the media or original content produced in house.
Perhaps it’s a hardworking mother who was able to graduate from college thanks to housing assistance or a grateful veteran who gained back confidence from a needed dental surgery. Letting your clients tell their stories communicates your mission best and helps it resonate most.
You can see the power of these profiles yourself in this news clip from KCOY News centering on the groundbreaking for an affordable farmworker housing development in Santa Maria. You’ll hear from the President & CEO of Peoples’ Self-Help Housing, but also notice how well you will understand this nonprofit’s mission and goals through the words of struggling farmworkers and a resident who has accomplished so much thanks to the organization.
Reporters know that the stories of the people you help – their names, faces, challenges and triumphs – are what will speak most to readers, viewers and listeners. Yes, reporters definitely want the official word from your executive director or board chair, but the request we receive time and time again from media is for the human element. They want to hear from the people who are impacted most and the role your organization has played in their lives.
Memories of statistics, arguments and speeches can be become fuzzy with time, but people will carry personal stories with them for years and years. After all, any false accusations against pit bulls go in one ear and out the other as I quite vividly remember Hondo resting in my lap seven years ago, down to the white streak of fur that bulbed out around a pinkish nose. And while I didn’t get to take Hondo home, I was ecstatic to find out he did later find his forever home.
Now that you’re getting ideas about your own success stories, need help getting them out to the community? Contact us today for a no-obligation consultation. Public Relations, Storytelling, Digital Marketing … we can help you implement a strategy for engagement and growth.