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The Case for True Storytelling

The Case for True Storytelling

By David Chesnick

An experienced writer can help take your community engagement to the next level.

From the time cavemen came home from a day of hunting and sat with their tribe around the fire until today, when the family gathers around the TV, they have wanted to hear stories. Stories of adventure, of trials and tribulations, and of triumphs and disappointments.

Stories illuminate the human heart. They help us to understand the world around us and shine a light on the world inside us. We better understand our place in the world because stories show us our commonality. We relate. We feel empathy because our shared experiences have the power to move us and to motivate us. That's why the tradition of storytelling has thrived throughout human history.

All are reasons why storytelling remains the best way to make a significant and lasting impression on your audience. It doesn't matter if you're a hospital promoting service lines, a real estate company selling high-end property, or a nonprofit seeking donations. Why merely tell people what you do when you can show them the impact of your mission?

When Florida Hospital Zephyrhills needed to promote their Coronary Interventional Program in a meaningful way, they chose to share the story of a heart patient and her authentic experiences:

When Phyllis Krieger's Heart Was Broken, We Mended It

Accustomed to getting up at 6 a.m. to walk and play tennis, Phyllis Krieger hadn't been to a doctor in 25 years.

"I'm one of those people who believes if it ain't broke, don't fix it." But when the usually active 60-something suddenly started feeling lethargic and short-winded, she asked a friend to help her find a doctor.

...My doctors came to see me every day, like old-fashioned doctors who used to make house calls. And the nurses were like family, doing everything they could to make me comfortable. Little things like answering all my questions and making sure I had my meal before a shift change. They even looked after my husband, Merrill, explaining the procedure to him so he wouldn't worry too much. It may sound funny to say this about a heart procedure, but it really was a positive experience..." 

Sure, the hospital could have used bullet points and dull, self-serving brochure copy to promote their services, topping it off with links to their physicians’ bios (yawn) but a genuine story based on authentic human experience does much more. It allows the reader to identify with the patient and her successful outcome, while humanizing the hospital and the doctors. 

 

Stories Become Memories

The seven luxury communities of The Cliffs run from Greenville, South Carolina to Asheville, North Carolina. Each has a golf course, clubhouse with Culinary Academy trained chef, and a population of accomplished, adventurous residents.

Rather than try to sell properties in its seven custom home communities with blueprints and lists of amenities, The Cliffs Communities wanted potential buyers to know the kind of people who would be their neighbors. Beyond its seven golf courses and clubhouses stacked with Culinary Academy chefs, it also wanted to introduce folks to a sampling of its accomplished, adventurous residents and the incredible cultural and lifestyle opportunities the communities and surrounding areas offered.

To share those stories, they conceived and launched Seven magazine. This one is about a boyhood dream realized:

For Love of the Game

Like many boys, Craig Brown dreamed of playing baseball when he grew up. He played wiffleball in the backyard, Little League, was an All-Star for his T-ball team, and pitched varsity for the Lahser High Knights in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

He became a lifelong fan of the Detroit Tigers. Nearly half a century later, when he talks about the team, you can still hear the boy in his voice.

As an adult, he headed up several of advertising’s largest agencies. But after overseeing three of the industry's most defining mergers, he decided to change careers and, on a whim, bought a baseball team.

Craig wanted the team's new ballpark, Fluor Field, to be a replica of the Boston Red Sox's iconic Fenway Park. It took an effort equivalent to a miracle pennant drive. But on the first pitch of opening day, Fluor Field had its own Green Monster, a manual scoreboard, and Pesky's Pole down the right-field line. And just like at Fenway, the crowd crooned "Sweet Caroline" in the eighth inning…. 

Real Stories About Real People

This is true storytelling – immersive, engaging, moving and memorable. It puts the reader inside the story and moves him to take action. It takes an experienced, professional writer to craft stories this way, bringing empathy, life experience and skill to each unique assignment to create an emotional connection. 

Real stories about real people can help any client take their community engagement to a new level. 

Editor’s Note:

David Chesnick writes compelling stories about all types of people in all sorts of situations. He listens and always tries to capture the humanity of the people about whom he writes. He prepared for his career by taking a degree in Journalism, tending bar in Denver, and driving a cab in San Francisco.

Over a 35-year career he has worked with a diverse group of clients, including The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Wells Fargo, The Pines of Sarasota and Clorox. David’s nonprofit experience includes work for the California Highway Patrol's 911 Foundation, The Salvation Army, and The Clorox Company Foundation.

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