Human interest stories can be used effectively to share innovations, recruit staff, and differentiate your company. Nothing intrigues me (us) more than the human condition – no matter what business we are in. Here are three ways I added human interest stories to internal, external, and online business communications.
As I See It
Introduce an “As I See It” column where people of all ranks in the organization are interviewed. Some people may want to write it on their own, but those always fall flat. It is the interactive conversation and the editing of the conversation that brings out the best for your audience. It is a great way to show the diversity of jobs, skills, and efforts that make up your company.
I find that no matter how high or low of status, each person feels good about being interviewed. This kind of content works well at 300 to 400 words online, or up to 750 in print. Add a photograph of the person in their work environment. Keep the text in first person “I” using their words. Find someone good at interviewing and who is comfortable talking with people across the organization. Create a series of blog posts that can be archived under a “staff” category, or feature your profiles in a newsletter and annual report.
Replace shadowy figures with real people.
Another use of human interest content can be found in of all places the trouble shooting section of product documentation. You know, “This happens, do this” type of text. Change “Troubleshooting” to “What If…” Human scenarios direct the reader to appropriate solutions by adding context, the way a conversation does. It can also reveal innovations in the product design. One company began using “What if…” in their training sessions. To show product or service flexibility include “What if…” statements that can be addressed by experts at your company.
What if I can’t get my tax forms filed on time?
What if the light on my dashboard won’t go off?
What if my pleasure is so great I don’t want to leave?
Interview people across the organization.
Just Asking can be written in a column format, but also fits as a blog post/website page/newsletter column for your company. The idea is simple. Ask a question of interest and relevance to your readers. Find someone within the company to answer it. The answer highlights the person’s knowledge and feeds the curiosity peaked by the question. It’s good to conduct a short survey to see what questions your readers/employees might have.
I have used all of the above ideas as an editor and communications manager at big and small companies in professional services and manufacturing. Putting a face on your company is a good way to engage your audience. No one’s story is the same. In an age of stock photos and cryptic text don’t forget the human side of your business.
Who would you like to have interviewed at your company? Why?