Telling 25 Years of Stories…that sounds like a lot! It was a bit overwhelming, but a huge opportunity to embrace a powerful narrative right here in Anderson, SC. I was hired to help find, tell, and share 25 stories for 25 years…and what I found were passionate stories told by passionate people!

It is hard to completely wrap our heads around what it means to operationalize a digital content strategy. There are so many barriers to execution, ranging from the operational portion of generating content, finding unique stories that are consumer friendly, training people to share unique narratives, and even just getting the written word on digital paper.

I have found myself in 2015 actually training three different organizations how to operationalize a content strategy three different ways:

1. Content First – Finding and Telling Rich Stories (Focus on the written word)
2. Technology First – Distribution Methodology (Focus on a platform specific approach)
3. Content Marketing First (Leveraging internal content for generate reach for product marketing)

All three can be successfully executed; yet fun to implement all three simultaneously watching the real time impact.

I started working with a small non-profit here in Anderson, SC called AIM (Anderson Interfaith Ministries), mainly because they have a wonderful story to tell. Here is a little bit about their mission from their website:

Anderson Interfaith Ministries is an efficient nonprofit organization that meets the needs of struggling individuals and families in Anderson County. AIM was founded by churches to eliminate the duplication of assistance to those in need. For more than two decades, AIM has stabilized the community and continues to do so using its hand up, not hand out philosophy. AIM is known for doing a lot with a little and continues to significantly help its customers positively change their lives long-term. AIM is unique because of its numerous efficient programs and passionate, committed volunteers. AIM is well known in the Upstate for giving hope and changing lives and continues to do so with unparalleled levels of energy, efficiency and reliability.

Here was our objective: Build awareness in the community for the 25th Anniversary Gala celebrating 25 years of service. We did this by finding, capturing, and telling 25 stories for 25 years of service.

We found strong storytellers inside AIM to help us find 25 stories; then putting pen to paper writing and sharing each story, starting 21 days before the event. As we wrote, more stories emerged and we began stockpiling more stories to be shared after the 25th Anniversary Event.

The night of the event we revealed the final four stories through short videos. But before the reveal, each attendee was able to walk around the room and see all the stories on easels, each with a QR code so they could scan and read the whole story from the blog.

Yes, two days before the event, we emailed the attendees to download the QR Code Reader app on their smartphones. As the event started, the final four videos were played on the screens as we pulled a black sheet off each of the four as they were revealed.

After the event, AIM was able to take full control of their story:
1. Identified more than 25 stories, they ended up capturing close to 50 stories.
2. Produced four stories via video, stories many knew well, sharable stories from the blog.
3. Had a completely updated website putting content first via a dynamic blog and news feed.
4. Complete understanding how to find, capture, document, edit, publish, and share their stories.

What did I learn? Organic storytelling can grow faster and spread quicker, allowing your audience to become a part of the narrative in real time. The stories grew like wildfire on social media, not needing any paid advertising to reach those who love the AIM story. But the biggest take away, always start with content first! Help people find their inner storyteller, providing them the space and the platform to tell their story from the inside out.

I hope you go to the AIM blog and read! I hope you find some amazing writing, storytelling, videos, and content that speaks to you. They sure were lots of fun to help find and tell!

Here are the four video stories:

Lanieka Musalini: Bigger Tomorrows

James Morrison: What is your ministry?

Perry Noble: Embracing Our Path

Beverly Odum: The Texture of Christ

I hope you enjoy!
Bobby