Tony Spencer-Smith is a highly experienced corporate writing trainer, and an award-winning novelist and former Editor-in-Chief of Reader’s Digest magazine. Linda Vergnani has written and edited content for corporations, not-for-profit organisations and government agencies, and was previously head of communications for a major South African trust.
Together, they’re teaching a new course focused on the unique power of stories to engage and convince. Here, Linda provides a range of examples that do just that.
Many non-profit organisations use powerful stories to win support for campaigns, raise funds and inform donors about the impact of their contributions. Examples include Médecins Sans Frontières Australia, which publishes heart rending but inspiring stories from patients and staff, and The Nature Conservancy, which uses writers and scientists to produce lively stories for its Cool Green Science blog.
The Fred Hollows Foundation stories are especially effective. I love the well-crafted article describing how Dr Sandak Ruit operates on patients in the Yangon Eye Hospital after beating a colleague at a game of badminton. The writer has a wonderful description of how Ruit removes a cataract from a patient’s eye then slips in an intraocular lens ‘like a piece of origami unfolding in reverse’.
On the corporate side, firms ranging from Mercedes Benz to Nike have used storytelling to promote their brands. A fine example of corporate storytelling is The Cleanest Line, the official blog of Patagonia, the outdoor equipment design company. The blog has sometimes brilliant adventure travel stories, interspersed with articles about environmental activism, research and new products. Especially gripping (literally) was an article on climbing in the High Sierra, Finding Peace by Robbie Phillips, ‘Patagonia climbing ambassador’. The story on his soul searching while balancing between life and death on the cliffs is good enough to feature in any magazine.
Join Linda Vergnani and Tony Spencer-Smith for their course Striking Storytelling for Companies and Causes on Saturday 16 September, 10am-4pm, at the Centre.