Put a face on your message
“Show them the forest; introduce them to a tree.”
— William Blundell, author of The Art and Craft of Feature Writing
To introduce the first replacement knee for women, Zimmer Inc. ran a campaign that included a series of patient stories like “‘Grammy’ Back to Babysitting Now that Knee Pain Is Gone.” It started like this:
“Eileen will never forget the morning she stopped by her daughter’s house, and heard her 2-year-old granddaughter crying upstairs in her crib. She zipped up the stairs to tend to her and was rewarded with Anna’s engaging smile for ‘Grammy.’
“It was all that much sweeter because Eileen couldn’t have zipped up those stairs a few months earlier. Eileen, 68, had such pain in her right knee that the things she loved most, including babysitting for her grandchildren, going to the theater and dinner with friends, and even walks in the park had become impossible.”
Need to call attention to a problem or issue? Don’t lead with the numbers. Find a poster person — a single human being who can stand for your point.
One of my favorite things about being PRSA’s “national writing coach” is my annual visit to the association’s headquarters in New York. There, I review Silver Anvil Award-winning campaigns, like Zimmer’s, studying trends and techniques to identify the best of the best public relations writing practices.
And one of the big trends I saw this year was humanizing stories with a single person. Whether you’re writing to clients and customers, employees, the community or members, how can you find a poster person to put a face on your message?