Narrative strategy

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Narrative and storytelling

  • planned a day of action globally where folks submitted their own photos to flickr, from all around the world, holding a "350" sign
    • A "global potluck" that connected local, individual narratives through the350 number and a singular message
    • Made the issue visible, gained exposure, made it accessible -- you didn't have to be a scientist to "get it"
    • Wasn't just one person talking
  • Storytelling is like an equation: if X, then Y
    • A beginning, a middle, and end
    • Do an assessment of where you're at and decide whether to show your audience the "X" or the "Y"
  • How to not be exploitative in storytelling about impact/ed communities
    • You may get donations, but you're not changing people's thinking or mindset
  • Weather vs. Climate
    • The sum total of all the stories being told by EVERYONE on an issue -- the accumulation is the climate
    • When we highlight or tell certain stories that's the narrative WEATHER
  • Be careful re: language choices because they have strong associations for people
  • Story about someone who worked in a "PR war room" and moved on to create "Upwell" -- a PR agency for the ocean!
    • Getting more attention for the ocean: "whales have a brand"; "marine protected areas" are important but the messaging isn't sexy -- instead, "Yosemites of the sea"
    • Team tracked keywords and sentiments from online convos and trends ("big listening", at the scale of the issue itself)
    • Discovered that shark week was like the superbowl for the ocean
    • The team targeted the people who spoke positively about sharks
    • Required thinking with an abundance mentality, networking strategy, partnering with other orgs rather than competing
    • Over years, the "yay sharks" conversations grew at a faster rate than the convos about shark week itself did -- they aimed for pop culture-level engagement
  • Make a potluck that anyone can join, not something exclusionary/exclusive
    • Example: embedding progressive memes/gifs into giphy keyboard
    • Shared narrative that many actors can use
    • It's intersectional (see the Race-Class Narrative project)
  • Other good examples: Reframe Signals Project, The Narrative Initiative
  • Funders are getting more interested in this narrative work
  • Ask people what they think, find out what they are already saying, and build on that
  • Engagement -- be participatory!