The power of stories

What publications can do for your cause or your company

What do we mean by “publication”? The term covers everything from the tri-fold insert in your water bill to the corporate annual report with a Hollywood budget. And that’s just classic ink-on-paper; digitally speaking, publications extend from simple PDFs to interactive exotica.

What do they have in common? Publications tend to be long-form. Typically they’re multi-part. Often they’re multiple-edition. Usually they’re more informational than pitch-y.

That’s what they are, but here’s what they do: Publications tell stories.

Human beings have a story instinct. It goes back as far as tales told by firelight, and it carries forward into social media tidbits.

But you’re running a complex business or an intricate nonprofit. No stories around here.

Sure there are! Your stories may not involve heart-grabbing puppy frolics or children overcoming adversity, but there’s an interesting narrative in there somewhere. We’ll find it. Here’s a few examples of stories told in publications we’ve made with our clients.

Case: Medical

A small hospital specializing in women’s health faced a host of competitors, some of which hinted the institution was… quaint. How to convince referring physicians and female patients they could have hands-on healing with high-tech equipment? We prepared a special publication that showed the hospital both ways—using warm storytelling and humanity-filled photos, presented with high-style design.

Case: Advocacy

Sometimes cute kids can undermine your case. Prekindergarten was having trouble getting its funding taken as seriously as the rest of New York State education. We worked with advocates to publish a series of tabloid-size newsletters aimed at state legislators, filled with facts and data showing how Pre-K sets up small children for later success. “Full-day Pre-K doubles student readiness for school, study finds” was a typical headline. Of course, the pages were also filled with photos of adorable 4-year-olds—because legislators are moms and grandpas, too.

Case: Investment

Say you run a hedge fund focusing on a stock market that few investors understand or care about, even though it’s the world’s third largest. Even this problem has a story solution. We help an asset manager publish quarterly white papers punctuated by half-page data-stories like “Japan’s Real Estate Sector Sees Bank Lending Attitude Loosen” and “Differential Narrows in U.S. and Japan 10-Year Real Yield.” These nuggets use charts with long captions to capture busy readers’ eyes. It’s a long way from The Cat in the Hat, but the goal’s the same: making learning interesting.

Case: Legal

Though it may suffer from a respect deficit, personal injury law requires as much expertise and craft as any other legal practice. We helped a “TV lawyer” earn peer appreciation and referrals through a newsletter sent to other law firms and court officials. A typical story: “Picking jurors you can teach,” describing the techniques one partner uses during voir dire to select jurors and begin educating them about the case.

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