Everyone loves a good story.
Stories are all around us. They move us, delight us and inspire us. Stories are a way we can reach out to people and connect with them emotionally.
Telling stories from the richness of your school will excite, entertain and encourage your community. Stories are at the heart of successful school marketing; they are critical to the long-term success of your school.
Storytelling is the oldest art form known to the human race and is a fundamental way of communicating. In the modern age of technology, storytelling is finding new life through blogs, case studies and first-person narratives on a school website to short, fleeting stories on social media. The fact that people have flexibility in how and when they choose to consume online content gives storytellers creative freedom. We can interweave anecdotes and factual information to explore larger scientific or philosophical issues. We can use various media to illustrate our stories. We can use audio to its full advantage to complement the content.
Parents are looking for a place where they believe their children will fit in, a school that shares their values, priorities, and ethics. In addition to the concrete facts about facilities, activities, and results, parents want to know the story of your school, how the core beliefs and essence of your school were formed and what this means for your students – and what it could mean for their children. School marketers need to tell the story of their school in a way that makes parents want to belong to the “club.”
The power of a story is profound. It can help you connect with and move your audience; it can make your material more memorable. The best way to help people remember you is to tell them a compelling story.
What Types of Stories Should Schools Tell?
There are a variety of ways schools can tell their stories. Your school strengthens its public image as it shares stories along these themes:
- Your school’s history
- What your school stands for
- What your school does (and does differently from other schools)
- Success stories
- How students, administrators, teachers, parents, and alumni have overcome barriers
How to Construct an Unforgettable Story
There are some easy steps you can use to get started with storytelling. But before you start crafting your stories, make sure you have your audience in mind and you know the goal in your storytelling, whether it’s to submit an inquiry, share with someone else or simply forge a connection between your school and the audience.
Here are 7 tips to help you construct memorable stories for your school.
You need a clear message
Your main message is the single most important point you want to communicate. Your main message should answer the audience’s question “What’s In It For Me?” (WIIFM). Your main message needs to be simple and easy to “get”. When you keep your message succinct, it’s easier for the brain to bring your message to mind easily. Yes, making your story simple, short and sweet is difficult. But it’s worth the effort to make your story great.
You need a powerful introduction
You have to attract the attention of your audience. Our brains are suffering from overload. They naturally save energy by tuning out boring, repetitive, monotonous things. As soon as something new or out of the ordinary shows up in our awareness, our brains switch on and begin to pay close attention.
One way you can do this is with humor. When you tell jokes and stories that make people laugh, you’re giving people a chuckle and a smile. And you’re increasing their endorphins, which lead to increased creativity, focus, and relaxation.
Your story must have the ring of authenticity
Authenticity is about being genuine and real. It allows others to connect with you (or your school) because it requires transparency and vulnerability.
Your story must be relevant to the audience
People don’t remember facts; they remember how your story relates to them. As wonderful and noteworthy as they are, your school’s accomplishments should stay in the About Us section of your website. When it comes to telling a story, people want to know how the message is relevant to them.
Every story needs the 5 C’s
Remember your high school lit class lessons about the 5 C’s? These five elements of storytelling are still important when constructing a story today.
When crafting your story, lay out the circumstances. Set the scene and give the vital information that will provide context for your reader.
Use curiosity to leave the audience wanting more (use this in headlines as well). If nothing piques the curiosity of the audience, why would they want to continue reading/viewing/listening?
Characters and engagement go hand-in-hand. Your story will be extremely boring without characters and dialogue.
Conflict is an essential element of all stories. If there isn’t any conflict, there’s not much of a story.
Win your audience’s hearts and minds
Stories are a great way to connect emotionally. Whether a story makes you feel sad, happy, scared or all-is-right-in-the-world, feelings make us feel more alive. To tell your story well, take the time to see the world through your audience’s eyes. Speak their language. Walk a mile in their shoes.
Stories elicit emotion – and action. The human heart is where your story must resonate if you want your audience to decide, to take action. The best stories help you touch human hearts.
Your story needs a resolution
Where there’s drama or conflict, your audience will be on pins and needles, waiting for the resolution to the story.
Good stories surprise us. They don’t always have to end with a happy ending. The resolution should wrap up the story but also clearly call your audience to action. Your resolution fulfills the purpose behind the story.
A good resolution makes people think and it makes them feel.
In order to be an effective storyteller for your school, it is critical that you effectively build your story and deliver it in a compelling way.
What types of stories have resonated the most with your school’s community? Please share in the comments below…