How many times have you watched or read a news story and laughed, teared up or were inspired to act or learn more? Chances are, that story featured a person you connected with. Or, in my case, sometimes, a dog.
When we start working with a client, and throughout our partnership, we try to look for that human (or occasionally canine) element that helps tell the client’s story and connects with audiences – beyond what a press release or fact sheet can deliver. Over the past year and a half alone, when the world was bombarded with tough news on a regular basis, we’ve had the pleasure of telling many character-driven stories for our clients. These relatable, interesting stories have helped cut through the noise to earn coverage in a time with no shortage of news to cover. Here are a few that have helped share stories by putting the people first.
- Midwest Dairy: The Retirement of a Butter Sculpting Legend – Not only are the Princess Kay butter sculptures at the Minnesota State Fair iconic and unique, but behind every one of them is also a story. When butter sculptor Linda Christensen decided to retire after 50 years of carving the likeness of Princess Kay of the Milky Way and finalists in butter, local – and national – media came calling. They wanted to tell the amazing story of Linda’s journey, along with some of the stories of the more than 500 dairy princesses who have been immortalized in butter over the last half century. Even though the butter sculptures are a classic Minnesotan tradition, when it comes to the people behind the carvings, their stories resonate beyond our state lines, as told this year by the Washington Post and CBS Sunday Morning.
- Lead for Minnesota: A Young Man Honoring the Past While Looking to the Future – When we heard James Clark’s story, a Fellow with our client Lead for Minnesota, we knew it would strike a chord with the media and community alike. As a proud descendant of the Non-Removable Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, James Clark —or Ozaawaanakwad (Yellow Cloud) in Ojibwe — is working hard through his fellowship to preserve the Ojibwe language and culture for future generations, following in the footsteps of his well-respected great-grandfather. The Star Tribune recently met with James and the elders of the Ojibwe band and shared his story, along with the role Lead for Minnesota has had in helping James do this important work.
- Miles for MnFIRE: Raising Awareness of Firefighter Health Concerns One Step at a Time – We’ve worked with the Minnesota Firefighter Initiative (MnFIRE) since its inception in 2016, and we know that when we get to tell motivational stories from the firefighters themselves, the community listens. For example, this inspiring story of firefighter Doug Foote’s 200-mile journey across Minnesota to raise awareness and funds for firefighter health was covered by many media outlets along his route, from the Montevideo American-News to FOX 9 to the Chanhassen Villager. In the end, Foote ended up raising more than $20,000 for the cause.
- Miracle Ear Foundation: The People Behind the Hearing Aids – The Miracle Ear Foundation works around the country to give the gift of sound to people who may not otherwise be able to afford hearing aids. A few of our team members work with the foundation to tell those inspiring stories of well-deserving recipients to raise awareness to those who may want to support the organization and to those who may be eligible for free hearing aids, including this story of cancer survivor Tanner Onder from Des Moines, Iowa, as featured in the Des Moines Register.
- Zumbrota Drivetrain: Gearheads Unite for Employee Car Show — In an initial fact-finding meeting about the company, our team learned that the employees at Zumbrota Drivetrain were hosting an upcoming inaugural employee car show. What greater way to show the culture behind a transmission manufacturing company than highlighting their workers’ passion for cars outside of work? We jumped on pitching this story, and it was picked up by several outlets including the Rochester Post-Bulletin. This just shows that while the human-interest and character stories might not be immediately top of mind, chances are they are there – and ready to be told with a little bit of digging.
These are just a handful of examples – I bet you can think of many stories that have resonated with you over the years.
Finally, we had nothing to do with telling this story, but for the sake of throwing dog-interest stories a bone (sorry, couldn’t help it), check out Cassie the dog’s story, as only KARE 11’s Boyd Huppert can tell it.