Topic: Communications / Outreach Type: Tools / Resources

The Art of Story Telling: Communications Resources

Authors: Emily Troisi

Stories with purpose don’t just materialize—they’re strategically planned, they’re creatively crafted…
Hatch, Online tool for story crafting

In graduate school, my cohort was extremely interested in science communication. We went to panels at conferences on Science Communication, researched new ways to give presentations that didn’t involve PowerPoint, and followed science communication blogs. In our program, we worked with amazing scientists doing creative work and held internships at National Estuarine Research Reserves on projects that aimed to collaboratively engage communities. A lot of these experts we worked with found that they were increasingly being asked to be better at communication, become social media gurus, and hone the message of “why” their work is important.

Just like a good professor can turn the most boring of subjects into an interesting journey, the opposite is also true, great science or community events can be obscured by poor, or boring, communication. I remember sitting in an AAAS panel on science communication, which featured prominent journalists and writers, and they had a similar take-away message; when you communicate, tell a story, and better yet, remind people why they should care about your story.

It helps if you’re naturally funny, or gifted with elegant ways to explain something complicated, but with our social media-minded world, constantly being fed information, even the most creative of communicators can sometimes lose their message to the wave of information. Fortunately, innovative people out there are coming up with all kinds of ways to help us tell our stories. Here are a few resources I have come across lately…

A screenshot of the Hatch story building structure.

A screenshot of the Hatch story building structure.


The Rockefeller Foundation, in conjunction with Hattaway Communications, just launched a new storytelling tool. This article explains the thinking behind Hatch;

Hatch is designed to benefit anyone working in social enterprise or non-profit. Harnessing the power of digital community, the platform is designed to get you thinking about your strategy and mission as a means to honing your narrative.

The structure is as follows; “Hatch has five sections, each designed to help you strategically craft, curate and share stories to drive social impact. As you answer questions, you will be provided with suggested tools, case studies and resources that are customized to your needs.”

The layout is a step-by-step process, which asks important questions that sometimes we forget to ask ourselves like, “Why will your audience care about your cause?” I have not personally used Hatch yet beyond exploring, but the website has good resources and examples. Check out Hatch here.

Reaching different audiences: Using Audio Stories

Most of the time we get preached to about the benefit of using social media and blogging for communicating messages, but the old art of story telling through audio stories is still a powerful tool for reaching different audiences.  This article lists a few reasons that audio can be in some cases, better than visual resources:

  • Audio recording allows for more intimate interviews
  • Audio is less expensive than video
  • Audio can multitask.
  • If you still want visuals, strong audio is a great place to begin.
A screenshot of the COMPASS Blog.

A screenshot of the COMPASS Blog.

COMPASS Blog: Resources for Science Communication

The COMPASS Blog has long been one of my favorite science communication resources. Besides having a strong and interesting blog, their twitter presence is entertaining and useful. Liz Neeley, Assistant Director of Science Outreach for COMPASS, uses Twitter to share all sorts of “#scicomm” (scicomm is a popular science communications related hashtag) resources, live tweeting from conferences and more. This post by Brooke Smith, features COMPASS’ top ten “practical resources, tools, tips and tricks to be an effective scientist communicator today.” Resources range from a primer for reaching out to journalists, things to consider when promoting work on social media, and what you should know about a policy audience.

Do you have go-to communications resources for different audiences? Share your favorites here!

One thought on “The Art of Story Telling: Communications Resources”

  1. Mary Huffman says:

    Wow, how refreshing! One day I had a brief conversation with a woman who was, at the time, Deputy Director for Fire and Aviation in the US Forest Service. We were talking about fire training. She said, “Well we know two things: that people learn by storytelling and by doing.”

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