Money is tight. Time is short. You’ve no budget for formal PR.
But you need to raise your profile.
You must persuade people why it’s worth giving up an evening of telly watching to volunteer for you.
Why they should bother rattling a collecting tin outside Sainsbury’s.
Why Awards for All and Big Lottery Fund should give your application a second glance.
First person accounts work
Frontline stories from your volunteers and the people who use your services are very good adverts. Collecting them won’t cost you much, either in time or money.
When people describe the difference you’ve made in their own words, it’s heartfelt.
It makes others take notice.
It might even prompt them to take action and give their time or money to you.
What you need:
- Something to record on. A mobile phone or basic Dictaphone is fine.
- Someone who is happy to tell their story about the impact you’ve made on their lives. Someone who’s comfortable talking about it in an open and detailed way.
If you’re planning to collect a lot of stories, it’s a good idea to write a consent form that your interviewees can sign.
Frontline Interviews in Five Steps:
- Ask open questions
If you want to open out the conversation, use open questions, like “who”, “what”, “why”, “when”, “how”, and “where”.Questions like, “Why did you decide to work with us?” or “What impact has our organisation had on your life?”
- The delight is in the detail
Specific images, remarks and feelings make your story memorable.Ask for examples. Home in on a particular moment. Has a comment made by someone else stayed with them?
Questions might include: “What is the most rewarding moment you had as a volunteer?” or “What was your first day like?”
- Cooling off period
Once you have recorded the conversation, give yourself at least a day before you listen back to it.During that time, jot down anything that stays with you from your chat.
It might be a phrase, an image or a feeling. It might have come half way through your conversation or at the end.
It will probably hang around at the back of your mind. But make sure you write it down. It’s important for step 4.
- Where do you start?
Start with that detail that has stayed with you from your original conversation.If it’s kept your attention over the last few days, it’s likely to grab the attention of your audience.
So use it at the beginning and shape your story from there.
- Be green. Share it. Recycle it.
When you’ve finished it, make sure you make the most of your story.Use it online, in print and face to face.
Turn it into a case study or put it on your About page. Refer to it in presentations, pitches or training sessions. Choose quotes from it to tweet.
By the time you’ve refreshed and recycled it, it will be well worth the initial effort.