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Giving High-Tech
Communications
High-Touch Impact
Amy Lynn Smith – Writer + Strategist
alswrite.com
@alswrite
Introduction
What’s my story?
 I use storytelling to engage and
educate
◦ Health literacy
◦ Issue advocacy
◦ Constituent and consumer
...
What will we learn today?
 Why storytelling works, especially to
improve health literacy
 The basics of good storytellin...
Why storytelling?
It works.
How does storytelling improve
health literacy?
 It helps explain complex topics in
terms people can relate to
 It makes ...
Why storytelling works: It makes
complex topics simpler and facts more
compelling
Complex facts:
The progression of
essent...
Why storytelling works: It grabs
readers and gives them someone to identify
with
 Stories create “stakes” and engage
emot...
Why storytelling works: It motivates
action when readers see themselves in a
story
 Success stories are especially
powerf...
Why storytelling works: It helps
readers retain facts
 Context improves memory
People who read Sara’s story will
remember...
Does storytelling persuade?
 YES: This is the testimonial of a woman who was
opposed to the Affordable Care Act until she...
Does storytelling persuade?
 YES: There’s even science behind it
Credit: OneSpot.com
What is
good storytelling?
The basics of good
storytelling
 Example: ‘The Little Engine That
Could’
◦ Most of us heard this story as kids. And
altho...
The basics of good
storytelling
 Example: ‘The West Wing’
◦ It taught lessons about government and
politics through a dra...
The basics of good
storytelling
 Example: ‘The West Wing’
◦ It’s stellar “take your medicine”
storytelling: a spoonful of...
The basics of good
storytelling
 Example: ‘Serial’
◦ Getting listeners to pay attention to the
dry details of cell phone ...
The basics of good
storytelling
 Example: Humans of New York
◦ A photo with a caption can say it all.
How do you use
storytelling in
healthcare?
Elements of good healthcare
stories*
 Establish your hero/heroine (choose a
protagonist who is relatable and likeable)
 ...
Creating your story: The
protagonist
 Use a real person or create a
character
 Include details that let your audience
ge...
Creating your story: The
stakes
 Every story needs stakes: What does
the protagonist stand to gain or lose
 Make the sta...
Creating your story: Keep it
simple
 Don’t try to do too much in one story
— especially online; stay focused
 Use straig...
Creating your story: Let it carry
facts
 Avoid isolating the facts from the
narrative; make them part of the
natural narr...
Creating your story: Let it carry
facts
 Let your protagonist share facts as
part of a personal story
After walking at lu...
Creating your story: Give it
structure
 Every story needs a beginning, a
middle and an end
◦ The beginning is where the p...
Creating your story: The call to action
 “Take your medicine” storytelling needs a
moral to the story — what’s the action...
Intermission:
Questions so far?
Storytelling
tips and tricks
What mediums work for
storytelling?
 Storytelling can be used in every
medium
 Use the medium to guide the
message:
◦ Sh...
Stories as part of a larger
campaign
 Stories can be one element of a
broader communications plan
◦ Consumer Reports’ onl...
Stories as part of a larger
campaign
 Consumer Reports complemented fact-based
reports with Paul’s personal video story
...
Storytelling on social media
 Vast reach that feels personal: the
social aspect
 Think of it as the new broadcast
journa...
Tailor social media to the
platform
 Facebook: photos, videos, stories with
longer shelf lives, more ongoing
interaction
...
Platforms are not
interchangeable
 A tweet is not a Facebook post is not a
blog post
 Even if the story is the same,
cus...
Integrate your social media
 Tell a story across multiple platforms
◦ Share a blog post with photo on Facebook
and encour...
Photos are worth 1,000 words
 On social media, photos make your
content more visible and can boost
views
 Choose the rig...
Videos are valuable, too
 Short videos work well on social
media; they bring stories to life
 Keep length to about 3 min...
Keep the story alive on social
media
 Social media promotes engagement,
interaction
 Respond to comments and create a
co...
Consider promoted posts
 Small investment, big return
 Choose the right audience to target; tailor
content and visuals
Storytelling for clinicians
 Storytelling puts information in context
for patients
 Use anecdotes — real or invented
◦ ‘...
Recap:
Storytelling works
Storytelling improves health
literacy
 It makes complex topics simpler and
facts more compelling
 It grabs readers and g...
Remember good storytelling
basics
 Establish your hero/heroine (choose a
protagonist who is relatable and
likeable)
 Mak...
Q & A
Giving High-Tech
Communications
High-Touch Impact
Amy Lynn Smith – Writer + Strategist
alswrite.com
@alswrite
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Amy Lynn Smith - Giving High-Tech Communications High-Touch Impact

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Presented by Amy Lynn Smith on March 12, 2015 at the fifth Center for Health Literacy Conference: Plain Talk in Complex Times.

Published in: Health & Medicine
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Amy Lynn Smith - Giving High-Tech Communications High-Touch Impact

  1. 1. Giving High-Tech Communications High-Touch Impact Amy Lynn Smith – Writer + Strategist alswrite.com @alswrite
  2. 2. Introduction
  3. 3. What’s my story?  I use storytelling to engage and educate ◦ Health literacy ◦ Issue advocacy ◦ Constituent and consumer communications  25+ years of experience beginning with custom publishing  Print to digital — the spectrum of media
  4. 4. What will we learn today?  Why storytelling works, especially to improve health literacy  The basics of good storytelling  Storytelling in various mediums: ◦ Digital and social media ◦ Print ◦ Video ◦ One-on-one conversations (for clinicians)  Tips for storytellers
  5. 5. Why storytelling? It works.
  6. 6. How does storytelling improve health literacy?  It helps explain complex topics in terms people can relate to  It makes dry topics more interesting and memorable  It engages readers and gives them a hero/heroine to identify with  It motivates action and persuades — readers can see themselves in the hero/heroine
  7. 7. Why storytelling works: It makes complex topics simpler and facts more compelling Complex facts: The progression of essential hypertension begins with prehypertension and then advances to early hypertension, established hypertension and finally to complicated hypertension. Simpler, more compelling: Sara had signs of high blood pressure starting in high school. It only got worse as she aged. By the time her own kids were in high school, she was taking two kinds of medicine to control her blood pressure.
  8. 8. Why storytelling works: It grabs readers and gives them someone to identify with  Stories create “stakes” and engage emotions Even though Sara’s doctors told her losing weight and exercising more could lower her blood pressure, she couldn’t find the time or energy. But then her doctor told her if she kept going the way she was, she might not see her kids graduate from college. That’s when she knew she needed to make a change.
  9. 9. Why storytelling works: It motivates action when readers see themselves in a story  Success stories are especially powerful Sara started walking for 30 minutes on her lunch break and saved time by bringing heart-healthy lunches to work. She lost 25 pounds, went off one of her medications — and had the energy she needed to help her son move into his college dorm.
  10. 10. Why storytelling works: It helps readers retain facts  Context improves memory People who read Sara’s story will remember that she was able to be there for her kids by exercising and losing weight to manage her high blood pressure.
  11. 11. Does storytelling persuade?  YES: This is the testimonial of a woman who was opposed to the Affordable Care Act until she read stories about how it was helping others
  12. 12. Does storytelling persuade?  YES: There’s even science behind it Credit: OneSpot.com
  13. 13. What is good storytelling?
  14. 14. The basics of good storytelling  Example: ‘The Little Engine That Could’ ◦ Most of us heard this story as kids. And although we may not remember the details, we remember the message: I think I can, said the train — and he did.
  15. 15. The basics of good storytelling  Example: ‘The West Wing’ ◦ It taught lessons about government and politics through a dramatic narrative and the stories of characters we care about.
  16. 16. The basics of good storytelling  Example: ‘The West Wing’ ◦ It’s stellar “take your medicine” storytelling: a spoonful of sugar (narrative) makes complex concepts easier to digest. ◦ It also inspired a generation (or more) of young people to go into politics.
  17. 17. The basics of good storytelling  Example: ‘Serial’ ◦ Getting listeners to pay attention to the dry details of cell phone tower technology was much easier when it was wrapped in the story of how Adnan’s attorney tried the case.
  18. 18. The basics of good storytelling  Example: Humans of New York ◦ A photo with a caption can say it all.
  19. 19. How do you use storytelling in healthcare?
  20. 20. Elements of good healthcare stories*  Establish your hero/heroine (choose a protagonist who is relatable and likeable)  Make sure there are stakes for the protagonist — a compelling storyline  Keep it simple  Wrap the facts in the story  Have a beginning, middle and end (include a call to action in the end) *Or just about any story, really.
  21. 21. Creating your story: The protagonist  Use a real person or create a character  Include details that let your audience get to know the protagonist  Make your protagonist relatable and sympathetic — someone we care about  Give your protagonist somewhere to go on the journey of growth, discovery, etc.
  22. 22. Creating your story: The stakes  Every story needs stakes: What does the protagonist stand to gain or lose  Make the stakes matter: Health stories have the built-in element of life or death  Include others in the stakes — family, friends, etc., to give your audience more than one person to connect with in the story
  23. 23. Creating your story: Keep it simple  Don’t try to do too much in one story — especially online; stay focused  Use straightforward language; use details and emotion, but don’t get flowery  Always remember your communications objective, whether it’s education, persuasion, marketing, etc. — that needs to be at the center of the narrative
  24. 24. Creating your story: Let it carry facts  Avoid isolating the facts from the narrative; make them part of the natural narrative whenever possible  If you must share a set of facts, consider a sidebar or other way to make them “at-a-glance” items that don’t break the narrative flow
  25. 25. Creating your story: Let it carry facts  Let your protagonist share facts as part of a personal story After walking at lunch every day for a month, Sara started to see results. “My blood pressure was much lower, sometimes even below 120/80,” she says. “That was a big deal for me. It made me want to keep going.”
  26. 26. Creating your story: Give it structure  Every story needs a beginning, a middle and an end ◦ The beginning is where the problem or scenario is established ◦ The middle is where the solution happens ◦ The end is where results are shown (usually good ones)
  27. 27. Creating your story: The call to action  “Take your medicine” storytelling needs a moral to the story — what’s the action you want your audience to take  A call to action can be woven into the narrative or broken out as an element ◦ “I can’t believe it took me so long to get my health on track,” Sara says, “but I’ll never go back to my old habits now. I love how great I feel.” ◦ Most drugstores offer free blood pressure testing. Check yours next time you’re out.
  28. 28. Intermission: Questions so far?
  29. 29. Storytelling tips and tricks
  30. 30. What mediums work for storytelling?  Storytelling can be used in every medium  Use the medium to guide the message: ◦ Shorter posts, graphics and video work best online; longer stories can work in blog posts if you keep them compelling ◦ Print is a good place for longer stories; many people will spend more time with a magazine ◦ Include printable elements online, such as PDFs, to provide more detail
  31. 31. Stories as part of a larger campaign  Stories can be one element of a broader communications plan ◦ Consumer Reports’ online hub on caregiving included:  A fact-based report on medical issues and advice for caregivers  A guide to palliative and hospice care  The video “A Beautiful Death” telling one man’s story of his own end-of-life decisions
  32. 32. Stories as part of a larger campaign  Consumer Reports complemented fact-based reports with Paul’s personal video story  Using Paul’s story made a topic most people don’t want to talk about less intimidating
  33. 33. Storytelling on social media  Vast reach that feels personal: the social aspect  Think of it as the new broadcast journalism  Good mass communications principles still apply
  34. 34. Tailor social media to the platform  Facebook: photos, videos, stories with longer shelf lives, more ongoing interaction  Twitter: timely, attention-getting tweets and conversations; photos  LinkedIn: best for B2B and professional communications  Instagram: perfect for visual storytelling  Tumblr: ideal for short blog posts and images
  35. 35. Platforms are not interchangeable  A tweet is not a Facebook post is not a blog post  Even if the story is the same, customize the share line and tone; post at different times  Use them in tandem, not in parallel  Let one build off the other
  36. 36. Integrate your social media  Tell a story across multiple platforms ◦ Share a blog post with photo on Facebook and encourage engagement ◦ Tweet link to that post with a timely comment ◦ Share the photo on Instagram; customize ◦ Cross-post on Tumblr, Google+ and more with customized share lines  Bonus: build audience across platforms  Example – frank (see handout)
  37. 37. Photos are worth 1,000 words  On social media, photos make your content more visible and can boost views  Choose the right image for your content and vice versa  Swap out photos to give older content new life
  38. 38. Videos are valuable, too  Short videos work well on social media; they bring stories to life  Keep length to about 3 minutes  Videos can be simple talk-to-camera with a few cutaways — easy to produce at a low cost  Longer videos must be especially compelling to hold the viewer and need higher production values
  39. 39. Keep the story alive on social media  Social media promotes engagement, interaction  Respond to comments and create a conversation  Comments boost Facebook visibility; retweet shares or @ replies on Twitter  You may even find new stories  Moderation is essential
  40. 40. Consider promoted posts  Small investment, big return  Choose the right audience to target; tailor content and visuals
  41. 41. Storytelling for clinicians  Storytelling puts information in context for patients  Use anecdotes — real or invented ◦ ‘The Lady and the Ice Cream’ ◦ Use analogies: the birds and the bees; plumbing repairs ◦ Motivate healthy actions through success stories  When providing hand-outs, use a short story to encourage patients to read them
  42. 42. Recap: Storytelling works
  43. 43. Storytelling improves health literacy  It makes complex topics simpler and facts more compelling  It grabs readers and gives them someone to identify with  It motivates action when readers see themselves in a story — a role model  It helps readers retain facts: context improves memory  Works in every medium
  44. 44. Remember good storytelling basics  Establish your hero/heroine (choose a protagonist who is relatable and likeable)  Make sure there are stakes for the protagonist — a compelling storyline  Keep it simple  Wrap the facts in the story  Have a beginning, middle and end (include a call to action in the end)
  45. 45. Q & A
  46. 46. Giving High-Tech Communications High-Touch Impact Amy Lynn Smith – Writer + Strategist alswrite.com @alswrite

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