My Storytelling Tool Box

Stories only have power if they’re heard. Storytellers must have the ability to tell stories in different forms and use the tools available to them. Here are some of the tools in my storytelling toolbox.

Writing

I studied journalism at Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism and wrote for newspapers for 18 years. During that time I joined others in transitioning The Marion Star from a print publication to a news outlet that focused on digital first. My writing earned me awards in news writing, community writing, feature writing and business writing from the Associated Press Society of Ohio

Writing stories has changed substantially thanks to the web. Successful writing takes knowing just how long a story should be and what should be contained in a story. It takes identifying what people need or want to know and making sure it’s included in the story.

I have 24 years of experience that includes writing for both print and online publications.

An editor once said that I “eat, sleep and breathe writing.” I determine what goals I want to accomplish with the story that I’m writing and then write accordingly to accomplish those goals. I work hard to tell stories that matter.

Social Media

Anyone who’s stood in a long line at the store and spent their time looking at their smartphones knows the importance of social media. We as a society are always connected, soaking up tidbits of information on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter.

I discovered the power of online communities as a poet sharing my poems on America Online and MySpace. When social media began to change how news outlets told stories, I quickly engaged in posting my work and seeking sources on social media. I now share school districts’ stories on social media recognizing that’s where many parents and community members seek information. I continue to recognize the power of social media to build communities.

Photography

They say that one photo is equal to a thousand words. Images both lure people to content and help tell our stories in a way that words can’t always accomplish.

I started taking my own photos as a journalist so that I could have more control over how my stories were told. School communications offers plenty of opportunities to share photos of students engaged in their learning.

Just like there isn’t just one way to tell a story, there are many ways to take a photograph. I continue to seek out photos that tell stories in themselves by showing people in action, whether it’s building a robot or singing in the choir. I also recognize the power of seeing smiling faces and shoot portrait shots when appropriate.

Video

I love to create videos that let subjects share their own stories and explore the scenes in which their stories take place. Videos let me make stories come alive for viewers. My experience includes taking videos on iPhones and DSLR cameras and editing videos with programs including Cyberlink PowerDirector and Adobe Premiere Pro.

Content Management Systems

A good story leaves people wanting to know more. School communications professionals hook people with stories then draw them to school websites to share more information with them.

Content management systems are the “back ends” of school websites. School communications professionals must understand how to post information on school websites in a way that is user-friendly and attracts people to the website.

My experience in school public relations includes working on four different content management systems. Highlights include seeking out vendors and working through the process to launch new websites for a school district and the Ohio School Public Relations Association.

Relationship Building

Storytelling isn’t just about writing and taking photos. You have to build people’s trust in order to tell their stories.

I credit my ability to build professional relationships for much of my success as a storyteller. I search for the right questions to start people talking and make them as comfortable as possible as I interview them. I make them feel valued so that they are enthusiastic about sharing their stories with me.

My success in building relationships led to inclusion in the Ohio School Board Association’s Media Honor for three years straight. I’m also the proud recipient of a Tri-Rivers Career Center/Lautenslager Distinguished Service Award.

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