[STORYTELLING] How to get access to the people with the good stories

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

It’s virtually impossible to share good and meaningful stories if we don’t have access to the people who lived and participated in those stories.
That’s why personal storytelling is so much easier than organizational storytelling. We already have access to the person who lived the story – us. When we work in an organization’s communications or marketing team and are trying to help other people share their authentic stories it can be harder. We need access to them to actually help them share their stories.

So when organizations set up a team of content creators but aren’t allowing them access to the organization’s subject matter experts it’s a strategy that is less likely to work and be successful long-term. Journalists, for example, get much better stories when they talk to eyewitnesses or sources with the authorities. It’s nearly impossible, to write a story without talking to anybody. How would we know the facts and details that are worth sharing?

Here are some (in theory) simple steps that can help you build those relationships with the subject matter experts and others who can help you share those organizational stories that are worth sharing:

  • Identify those who are your most likely advocates.
  • Connect with them and explain what you’re trying to accomplish.
  • Think about who you already have relationships with. They also might be easy candidates to help your storytelling strategy kick off with a good start.
  • Be conscientious of your experts’ time. Make it as painless as possible for them to share their stories with you. Talk by phone, go to their office, respond to email quickly. 
  • Always find a way to share stories that experts and frontline staff have brought to you. The biggest killer of any storytelling strategy is when stories that were shared internally end up being not shared at all externally. Keep in mind that doesn’t mean that all details need to be shared externally, but it’s likely that there are some details that can be shared. 
  • Get executive and/or your boss’ buy-in. If you’re not the highest ranking person in the department, talk to those that are and get their recommendations on who you should talk to. In addition, ask them to introduce you to people who could help you move the strategy forward.
  • Once people share their stories with you make sure you write them and produce them in the most accurate and non-markety way.
  • One stories publish on your blog, your website and your social channels just to name a few examples, make sure you send the link to the people who helped you share the story. They likely will help you to now also distribute them across their own social networks.
  • Make sure to thank them for participating.

  • Once the story has been published for a while make sure you share results with the people who helped you share the story. Show them or tell them how the story performed. How many people viewed it, for example.
  • Stay in touch with them and continue to encourage them to share additional stories as they come up.

Access to the people with the stories is essential in any good storytelling strategy. It’s almost impossible to share good organizational stories if they’re only produced by a team of writers that sits in a room away from others without ever talking to other people in the organization. Once content creators have access to people that are experiencing our organizations stories we’re off to a great start and are setting our strategy up for success.