Telling the right story for your online campaign


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Pink Slime. The Boy Scouts of America. Trayvon Martin. Each of these news stories started with an online petition that led to real, tangible impact. Each represents the power that people and organizations have today to engage and motivate hundreds and thousands of supporters to take action. The internet, social networks and mobile technology provide an unprecedented opportunity to increase the efficiency and impact of the time proven model of collective action, but you still need a story. Learn lessons from about how to not only tell a good story, but how to tell the right story.

> Key elements of online campaigns that tell an engaging story for your cause, campaign or organization
> How to tell the right story to meet your objectives and align with your campaign strategies
> Overview of tactics to motivate supporters and create the biggest impact with your story, such as online petitions, social media, email, SMS, etc.

This webinar was presented on Tuesday, June 11 as part of the Tech Tuesday webinar series for nonprofits at

Slides 17-23 on storytelling narratives courtesy of Kate Stayman-London (

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Telling the right story for your online campaign

  1. 1. Telling the right storyfor your online campaignLawrence GrodeskaDirector of Nonprofit Community
  2. 2. Agenda:• Why are stories important?• Elements of a good story–Narrative–Presentation• What’s your story?• Storytime• Tips & tools
  3. 3. Why are stories soimportant?
  4. 4. NarrativeElements of a good story
  5. 5. A story follows the journey ofsomeone who wants somethingbadly and is having difficultygetting it.
  6. 6. A character having a problemcreates sympathy.A character seeking a solutioncreates empathy.
  7. 7. Stakes or implications up theante for empathy.
  8. 8. PresentationElements of a good story
  9. 9. 3 principles of visual communications1) Humans are visual first, verbal second.2) Our actions are based more onemotions than rational thought.3) Visuals most effectively evoke emotionand inspire people to take action.Seeing is Believing: A Guide to Visual Storytelling Best Practices, 2013 Resource Media
  10. 10. The medium is the messageObjective ChannelEducate video, infographic, petitionEngage /actionvideo, image, petition, sms,emailFundraise email, social mediaBrand /credibilityvideo, infographic, press,petition
  11. 11. What’s your story?
  12. 12. Define your goals• What is the outcome you want for thiscampaign?Know your audience• Whose hearts and minds do you needto win over?
  13. 13. Choose your tacticsObjective ChannelEducate video, infographic, petitionEngage /actionvideo, image, petition, sms,emailFundraise email, social mediaBrand /credibilityvideo, infographic, press,petition
  14. 14. Pick your character• Remember:– Interest– Sympathy (problem)– Empathy (solution)– Stakes• People power yourstory!
  15. 15. Tell your story!• Vet your stories to be credible• Circulate story among peers orcolleagues for feedback• Build education into continuum of action• Share your success along the way
  16. 16. Storytime
  17. 17. ForestEthics EnbridgecampaignProblem:Planned pipeline from Albertas Tar Sands to the coastwould introduce mega-tankers into pristine waters forthe first time. Huge threat to wildlife, thousands of riversand streams, and Canada’s fisheries.
  18. 18. Objectives, audience & tactics• Long term objective: stop the pipeline– Short term: Create online action opportunities forsupporters to create offline change• Audience: environmentalists andconcerned citizens• Tools and tactics:– Petitions– Targeted actions– Signup, donation & thank you pages
  19. 19. Campaign storyCharacters:• Wildlife• ActivistsProblem:habitat & democracy are threatenedSolution:listen to public & stop the pipelineStakes:loss of wildlife, government overreach
  20. 20. Actions
  21. 21. Government response“ Unfortunately, there are environmental and otherradical groups that would seek to block this opportunityto diversify our trade(…)These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system toachieve their radical ideological agenda. They seek toexploit any loophole they can find, stacking publichearings with bodies to ensure that delays kill goodprojects…” – Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources
  22. 22. Shift story narrative
  23. 23. Fundraising asks
  24. 24. Rallies & news events
  25. 25. Tips & Tools
  26. 26. Storytelling takes time• Listen!• Record and store your stories• Evaluate your success over time• Experiment• Don’t be afraid to fail
  27. 27. Visual presentation• Test images• Combine images & text (LOLcats)• Make images with your message• Use authentic images from your campaign• Choose subjects to maximize connection(eyes)• First impressions matter, invest in goodimages
  28. 28. Storytelling tools•• Vine app• Google maps (victories)•••• Youtube editor
  29. 29. What are YOU changing?Web: @ChangeOrgs/ChangeOrgs@lsgrodeskaEmail: