S Stands for Story — and Your Members Have Them
The National Association of Realtors is proving
that members’ personal experiences are one of an association’s best sources for
content. Learn how to get members to share those stories with you at AM&P’s Annual
Meeting, June 27-29, 2016 in Washington, DC.
Apryl Motley, CAE
There have been more than a few instances when association media
and publishing professionals hoped a caped crusader would arrive just in time
to save the day, and the capital S on the superhero’s torso would stand for story.
Who doesn’t want to include a story of heroic proportions in their
Everyday heroes like your organization’s members have some of the
best stories to tell. For example: What do a short story writer, a supporter of
the arts, and a centenarian have in common? They are all realtors, and the
National Association of Realtors implemented a multi-media strategy to get their
stories and others, so their members could become superheroes of storytelling.
Launched in 2014, Street
Cred was designed to solicit stories that
showcased realtors’ "authentic, first-hand connection to a city or neighborhood
that’s formed over years of personal investment and passion.” NAR members were
encouraged to submit stories online via a web
form that exemplified how they made a difference in the
communities they serve. These stories would highlight real estate professionals
as ambassadors for their communities.
"We were doing user-generated content before this, but there
really wasn’t a theme,” says Meg White, managing editor of REALTOR Magazine. "It was a kind of haphazard.” The idea for Street
Cred grew out of a brainstorming session with the founder and product marketing
manager of Doorsteps, a home buyer education program, about
what makes real estate professionals different.
"They had some great suggestions that helped us to kick it off and
identify some of the first stories,” White says. "We also went to people
internally in the association for ideas about people and members they knew.
"We put together an article that explained the idea behind Street
Cred and posted it on social media and developed a web form for it as well,”
she continues. "Those two strategies really helped us.”
The web form was the jumping off point for the stories, which were
then followed up on during phone interviews. "I came up with a list of
questions for staff to use in interviews to draw members out and get to what’s
really unique about what they’re doing,” White explains. "We recorded the
interviews and then edited the transcripts to emphasize the qualities we’re
looking for in their stories.”
Your members have stories to tell too; they just might not know
how to get started or even be aware that your association is interested in
their anecdotes. Here are three strategies that helped NAR launch and maintain
a successful member storytelling initiative.
- Create a web
form. "It is a really good way to keep track and have a record of user
generated content,” White says. "That was a huge part of what made Street Cred
stories internally. "We made internal content creators aware of our efforts and
encouraged them to think about Street Cred for some of the pitches they were
getting,” White says.
through your methodology for gathering stories. "Technology
is important, but so is being very specific about what you’re asking,” White
notes. "Specificity and having tools in place to carry the program forward in
the long-term are key.”
Learn more about this initiative when
White and her colleagues present their session Engage
Readers Via Superpower Storytelling at AM&P’s Annual Meeting on
Tuesday, June 28, 2:15 – 3:15 p.m.
Apryl Motley, CAE is
a communications consultant and freelance writer. She is a frequent contributor
to Association Media & Publishing’s Signature magazine and a member
of its Content Creation Committee.