By Piper Hendricks, advocacy communications professional
In the post below, I share my approach to storytelling. I designed the R.E.S.U.L.T. approach (acronym explanation to come) for storytellers with a mission – for people who, as we say at my nonprofit p.h. balanced films, know that “stories power change and stories change power.” In the weeks and months ahead, I’ll post an article on LinkedIn about each of the individual elements in more detail.
August recess, when Members of Congress are in their home states, is one of the key times of the year when advocates tell their stories and use their experiences to initiate change. With that in mind, I’m honored to share this summary with the National Kidney Foundation and their advocates dedicated to the awareness, prevention, and treatment of kidney disease. Having recently lost an uncle to kidney disease, I thank you for all you do on behalf of the 37 million people in the United States who face this disease’s potentially devastating challenges.
The R.E.S.U.L.T. approach outlines the elements a story needs in order to support advocacy efforts to change (or defend) a law, regulation, or policy.
When used properly, the narrative arc can literally change internal brain chemistry and bridge external social divides. Advocates across the country are increasingly recognizing the potential of stories but, to be effective, advocates must also appreciate the distinction between storytelling for entertainment and storytelling for advocacy.
To stay on the correct side of that distinction, and knowing the value of checklists, I created the following approach for your advocacy communications (including communications beyond storytelling).
In its most abbreviated version, the R.E.S.U.L.T. approach asks:
RELATABLE: How can you make it relatable to your audience? Does your audience already relate to your issue? Can they personally understand its importance? If not, your story is even more critical to illustrating the problem and ensuring they make the solution a priority.
EMOTION: How do you want your audience to feel during and after your story – and about the issue itself?
SOURCE: Who is the source of any story and statistics that you mention? Will your audience happily listen to – and trust – you and your source(s)? Ensure you are using appropriate information and sources for your meeting.
UPLIFTING: Have you left any space for your audience to feel even an inkling of hope for a good outcome – or change for the better? (If not, expect their response to be “Why bother?”) Remember that you want them to feel like they can be part of, or even leaders of, the solution.
LANGUAGE: The fact that your language should be accessible to your audience is a given. No Jargon and lingo! Beyond that, ask: Does the language you are using resonate with your audience and their values?
TRANSFORMATION: This element is the crux of both story and advocacy. A story, by definition, is a journey that includes at least one change – a transformation – along the way. A story has a beginning, an end, and somewhere along the way, something important happens. For example, receiving a transplant or when Medicare no longer covered transplant medications.
Bottom line: If these elements aren’t in your story and don’t illustrate your advocacy ask, you need to reconsider your story. Now, how will you frame your story to make it spur policymakers into action?
You can read more from Piper Hendricks on LinkedIn and find her Twitter @PiperTheDaisy.