Congrats! Something big is happening at your school.
Maybe you’re launching a new program. Or you have a new website. Or you hired an accomplished new head of school.
So what do you want to do? You want to shout it to the world, right? You want to put out a press release and let everyone know that you’re doing great things, because surely they’ll be impressed.
Except they probably won’t.
And the reason is not because they shouldn’t be impressed (because what you want to announce IS impressive). It’s because it’s about you — and not about them.
People are selfish with their content consumption. We know this. So let’s work with it.
The next time you have a big announcement you want to share, stop. Don’t announce it. Instead, look for the lesson in it. Meaning: flip that announcement inside out and put the focus back on your intended audience.
What will your audience get out of this announcement? How will it directly benefit their lives? How will it solve a problem they’re facing?
Years ago at a Content Marketing Institute workshop I attended, Robert Rose used a great exercise to help attendees strip back our self-centeredness and get to the heart of our stories.
Rose said to first write down what you want to do, and then you repeatedly ask yourself “Why?” This is an exercise I’ve used ever since, and it’s what I recommend your school does before making a big announcement. It goes something like this:
We want to announce our school’s awesome new program/website/employee.
Why do you want to announce this?
Because I think my audience will be super excited and want to enroll in our school.
Why will your audience be super excited?
Well, because the new program is exactly what they need.
Why is it what they need?
It does this and this and this.
Why does it do those things?
To solve this major problem they’ve told us about.
Now, when you write your story, start from the bottom of that inquiry and work your way up. Talk about how it solves this major problem by doing this and this and this, which is exactly what your audience needs. Then introduce your announcement as the solution to that problem.
So instead of announcing your new program … write about the challenge it solves.
Instead of celebrating your new website launch … write about how you’ve created a better experience for your audience.
Instead of publicly high-fiving your new head of school … write about that person’s area of expertise, and how you hired her to bring those exact skills to enhance what your school has to offer to students.
You’re doing the same thing. You’re making an announcement, just not in a self-serving, expected way. You’re actually creating value rather than another press release to file away.
Be helpful, not promotional. It will pay off.
If your school needs help telling a more powerful story, learn more about working with us.
Even though I work in an independent school now, I started my career working in hotel furnishing industry. The formula for success in sales boiled down to this piece of advice that underscores what you have written in your article – cultivate an unpretentious interest in people. Everything flows from that. Thanks for the reminder.
I LOVE this! Thank you for breaking it down so well with your example of asking the ‘Why?’ My approach will be different from now on! Great stuff!!!