If your association or organization creates regular media content you may have faced the problem of finding fresh, relevant and interesting topics and stories for your industry.
I used to be in charge of all news content on a national broadcaster so I know the feeling. For us it was particularly challenging, because all of our stories had to be focused on weather.
So what’s the best way to come up with fresh and relevant story ideas? In a word – diversity.
Factors like culture, background, gender and ability play into how each of us see the world and also what stories we tell. Typically the voices and points of view of diverse groups (people of colour, people with disabilities, the aboriginal community and even women) don’t get told nearly as often – meaning they’re original, different, and often timely.
What Black History Month taught me about finding new story ideas
One February day, during our corporate diversity committee meeting, someone suggested that we do a series of stories on black history which I quickly dismissed – after all what does black history have to do with weather?
But after the meeting, I began to have second thoughts. Maybe there was a connection.
I thought again about what little I knew about Black History. I knew that during the days of underground railroad, slaves escaped northward into Canada from the deep south. I began to imagine what it must have been like travel hundreds of miles from a sub-tropical climate like Georgia only to get hit with a brutally cold and snowy Canadian winter.
I suggested this idea to one of my reporters and she found a wonderful Black history museum in Nova Scotia run by two amazing volunteers who were able to tell dramatic stories about freed slaves trying to survive a Canadian winter with only the light clothing on their backs.
As soon as it aired, this black history series was incredibly popular with ALL of our viewers because it highlighted a story and a perspective that most of us hadn’t thought about. It also won one of the most prestigious journalism awards that year.
As a result, it changed the way our news organization came up with new story ideas.
How to explore diversity in your story content
Now in your industry, there are probably common topics that you write about on a regular basis.
For us, it was snow.
So we thought to ourselves. How does snow impact people of different backgrounds and abilities differently? How about people with disabilities? After some research we found out that it’s extremely difficult to train a new seeing-eye dog when the snowdrifts along sidewalks are taller than the dog. We also did a stories about how challenging it is using a wheelchair on sidewalks which are snowy or icy.
Ultimately, all of our best stories that year came from this simple question. A question you can use in your own organization. ‘How does ___________ impact people of differing backgrounds in different ways?”
The benefits of telling diverse stories
Diverse storytelling has many benefits to your organization, but of course there are larger benefits to our community and the world at large. Ultimately, we all want to be heard and have our stories told. We also want to feel the organizations we belong to acknowledge our reality.
If you want to know more about how you can improve the diversity in your organization’s storytelling, consider booking my latest program on diversity and storytelling for your organization. For more information you can contact me here.