Let people stand for your association, bill or industry
Promoting an association, union, society or other members-only group? Use members to demonstrate the benefits of membership.
Or use nonmembers.
Richard L. Trumka, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, knew how to tap the power of people. In a speech to the Industrial Relations Research Association, Trumka showed the need for unions through short profiles of individual people:
If you want to bring your topic to life for your audience members, take a tip from Trumka: Try writing a good human interest story about people who aren’t getting the benefits your organization offers.
Use members to showcase your values.
The best way for a communicator to make the organization’s values credible is to show the values instead of just telling about them.
That’s what the Houston YMCA did.
Executives at the Y decided one year to organize the annual report by the organization’s values — concepts such as caring, respect and faith. The association could have chosen to have its chairman write a message about each of those values. I imagine it would have sounded something like this:
Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Sharing. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Responsibility. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Caring. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Respect. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Faith. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Honesty. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah.
Instead, the organization presented its values through the stories of some of the people it had helped — people like Yolanda:
Stories like this make the YMCA’s values more concrete, meaningful and credible.
No wonder news reporters covering natural disasters and other major events include poster people in their news stories. Whether you’re writing for social media or another channel, a feature story focused on people grabs attention and makes readers care.
Use constituents to pass your bill.
When Dan Ponder Jr. needed to flesh out a speech supporting hate-crimes legislation in the Georgia House of Representatives, he turned to his own friends and family members.
The results: a powerful, personal testimonial that illustrates the problems of hate crimes:
Talk about compelling.
When Ponder began speaking, the vote stood at 83 to 82 against the legislation. When he finished, the bill passed 116 to 89 after a standing ovation for his speech.
No wonder the speech earned Ponder a John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.