Mercy Corps exists to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities.
Senior writer Roger Burks explains,
"Action is at the heart of what we do – it’s the step that connects our constituents to those we serve. But how do we get that anonymous person sitting behind a computer screen to make that commitment and take action?"
"You have only 56 seconds to convince an online reader that they should read more and stay on your website."
To do this, Mercy Corps connects with people through online storytelling.
Mercy Corps connects readers to a name, a face and a compelling story as quickly as possible, so that they’ll stay and possibly take action. "First make them: Think, Feel, Care."
Burks advises you to focus on the beneficiary of your work. Why? Because people connect with people. And when writing for the web, you need to think about the engagement time of your users - they are bombarded by a lot of content coming your way. Is your content worth it?
Before writing, ask yourself these questions:
- Is this a story I want to tell? If you don’t want to tell it, they don’t want to hear it.
- Does the story have a heartbeat - put yourself in the story. People will connect with the human character at the center of your story.
- Is the story transformative? Are readers in a different place at the end of the story?
- Does it sound like my organization? Keep your organization's branding in mind.
- Does it have an expiration date? It shouldn’t.
- Will it make the reader want to do something?
Elements of a good story include:
- A compelling title - your title is your marketing piece for the story. How people engage with your title determines whether they will read on.
- An intriguing lead or hook - do you have a short summary description that further engages your reader with your story? Does it have a heartbeat?
- Good stories include photos specific to the content. Many people include a photo and caption that touches on the topic, but the best strategy is to make the photo an integral part of the story.
- The narrative is character-driven. Remember, people connect with people.
- It ends with a call to action - or includes multiple ways to take action. The more focused you are on one call the action, however, the more likely the use will consider taking that action.
Think about how you might adopt these guidelines for your online strategy.