Tag: Community

THE POWER OF STORYTELLING FROM ‘MY STREET’

The power of storytelling

I have a guilty pleasure; I really like to watch documentaries while I make dinner. It’s my time to do two things that I enjoy; learning from storytelling and creating homemade meals for my family.

This isn’t a new thing. It was always my Sunday afternoon treat. Since lockdown I’ve started to watch programmes on my iPad while prepping, chopping, baking, boiling and roasting. It is a way for me to destress and unwind while also learning about others.

I am interested in different communities, cultures and lifestyles. The way people choose to live their lives intrigues me and I genuinely believe we can all learn from others: good or bad.

Looking differently at My Street

While perusing the choices, I came across an old programme called My Street. The concept was simple but inspired. A lady had lived on a street for many years and realised she didn’t know her neighbours.

Not usual now-a-days, and something that I feel we can probably all relate to in one way or another.

She set about knocking on doors and asking each family to share their stories about love, life and loss on film. The outcome was an insight into a street that was made up of so many different characters that had one thing in common: their postcode.

Learning from storytelling

This got me thinking.

There is little doubt that one of the reasons I enjoy documentaries so much is that I write stories for a living. Admittedly, the releases and features I draft are often about business, but this doesn’t mean they are devoid of personality.

We always say that passion is infectious, and personality is the one thing that a company has that cannot be replicated. You may be selling the same product as another business but what makes your organisation unique is you. This is where the power of storytelling comes into its own.

I then realised that during lockdown we have started to talk to our neighbours more. We’ve always nodded a polite hello but now we stand in our gardens and we chat. We live on a cul-de-sac in a former mining village and are all very different.

Since lockdown a group of us have come together and during our morning, afternoon and evening chats (which conform to the obligatory social distancing) we have learnt about ‘My Street’. It wasn’t forced it just happened and has made me realise how important it is to add personality to content if you want to really engage with an audience.

Behind closed doors

People like stories. They like to know what happens behind closed doors and to hear about the love, life and loss of others. This doesn’t mean every business needs to share their inner most workings with everyone. In fact, I can’t think of a single client that would happily disclose all their best kept secrets. What it does put into perspective is the need to add interesting facts into the case studies, press releases, blogs and social content.

If you want to harness the power of storytelling you need to think differently.

Adding some honesty to copy and write in the first person to change a piece of content from informative to truly engaging. Creating reactions and changing behaviours is one of the benefits of PR and writing in this way will achieve those objectives.

Going back to My Street

Although I have worked in PR for more than 20 years, I never assume to know everything.

Life is about lessons and I like to learn from others. I try to take the positives from situations and just one of those will be that My Street has reminded me that the true story is the person behind the headline.

Remembering this and using it as a tool going forward, I’m going to put this into practice and make it my mission to find out more about the people behind the stories that we share. But before that, I am going to continue to enjoy the chats that we are having with neighbours and to learning more about what goes on behind closed doors on My Street.

Back of the net or getting wet, either way it was Game On

It was wet, windy, cold and I’d spent half an hour curling my hair for it to last a matter of minutes before resembling a collective of rats tails, falling unattractively around my face, which was also streaked with the remnants of my carefully applied make-up.

But still, I was watching football (a game that in the most part I detest) with more than 50 children from youth teams throughout the country who participate in Game On, a programme organised by our client The Coalfields Regeneration Trust and delivered by The Football League Trust.

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Game On aims to take children from some of the most deprived areas of the UK and encourage them to take part in free football training sessions, which take place on two evenings each week. Not only does this programme have a direct impact on anti-social behaviour by providing young people with something to do, but it also teaches those involved about health and wellbeing, participation, commitment, social interaction and engagement.

Knowing that in situations like this the best approach is to roll your sleeves up – metaphorically, it was freezing! – and get on with it, that is exactly what I did.

I was surprised to find that I soon got into the game and was cheering along with the best, especially when one particular player who happened to be a girl made an amazing tackle, which left the side lines squinting never mind the opponent rolling around on the floor!

More than 3 hours later and we were into the final rounds, there were cheers and jeers, banter and back chat but the attitude of all involved really was to be commended. Each team took to the game with the passion you would expect but also with a sportsmanship that belied their teenage years.

The final was a close call with Wigan A and B teams literally taking the title from under the nose of Doncaster when they were chosen on goal difference as the contenders for the next round of the championship, which takes place in Scotland on 1 November.

Next came the bit I had been looking forward to most (until the drenching earlier in the day, which had now resulted in me looking less like a drowned rat and more like I had been dragged through a hedge backwards) we were going to watch the Derby versus Millwall match.

But that wasn’t all, the Wigan winners would get the chance to have a special trophy presented on the pitch! As we walked out of the tunnel I caught my breath – it’s no secret that I am no real football fan – but this was amazing.

Stood in front of an audience of more than 27,000 people the Wigan teams were presented with their trophy and as if that wasn’t enough they were then asked to look up – a huge screen projected their smiling faces to the whole crowd.

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I have to admit that I had a lump in my throat whilst I watched them all waving and jumping to be seen. It really was spectacular.

The game ended 0 – 0  but that didn’t really matter. The atmosphere was great and Rammy, Derby County FC’s mascot, made an appearance and danced around the pitch. The team at Derby were fantastic and whether they realise it or not I am sure that they have created memories that the Game On finalists will never forget.

As for me, I’m pleased to be warmed up but the event was certainly worth braving the weather for. Thanks to the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Derby County Football Club, The Football League Trust and all of the clubs who took the time to compete in the Game On finals. For those who didn’t win, there’s always next year!