5 Gifts of Story from 2015

I enjoyed a rare two-hour sit down recently with an entire marketing and communications team at a major university — and we never once talked about story.

They, like many of you, spoke of feeling beleaguered by the demands of an unending news cycle, a tumbleweed website and the torture drip of “next in line” requests for this event press release or that event poster.

I realized that as much as I believe in the power of good story telling, many in house departments have lost control of the conditions that might allow it to happen.

In the spirit of giving, let’s all take a few minutes and give ourselves the gift of a good story.  I found a couple of recent examples from higher education — reminders that the mission of our college and university communications efforts is not to meet every trumped-up deadline, but to help make a lasting difference.

As TV writer Steven Moffat says: “We’re all stories, in the end.”

  1. Boston College offers a video holiday card that, while openly derivative, still strikes a chord.
  2. Down the road at Boston University, they continue to set a high bar for reporting and writing. Here’s a timely look at how one campus chose to surface the issue of Islamophobia.
  3. St. Olaf College set the pace on reporting student outcome data several years back. Here’s a nice example of how to tell the outcomes/undergraduate research story in a quick news piece about a student co-authoring a journal article.
  4. Middlebury College does as good a job as any with using scarce resources (writers, photographers, videographers) wisely. They offer a nice stroll through 2015 through the eyes of their best talent.
  5. CalTech knows that a picture — especially one tagged for SEO — is worth a thousand clicks. Their team keeps the bar high for making sure than all of the news from the school’s research bench anticipates the reader’s desire for something visual.