Whether to Promote an Event, Encourage Membership or Simply Engage, Member Storytelling Can Shine at This TIme

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By Ronn Levine

“I don’t ever take for granted what it is I get to do every day. That at any given moment, if I’m having a rough day, I can go jump on a roller coaster or I can go eat a funnel cake.”


That comes from Sharon Parker (pictured), communications manager for Six Flags Over Texas and Hurricane Harbor, speaking on one of three videos for the IAAPA Expo 2019 Return Attendee Promotion. The videos were a major part of an IAAPA initiative that won a 2020 bronze EXCEL Award for Video Promotion.  


AM&P member IAAPA is the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. The team they worked with on that winning Return Attendee Promotion—CSG Creative—wrote this:

“When thinking about the IAAPA Expo experience, we realized that we had three perspectives to share: an exhibitor, a repeat attendee, and a first-time attendee. We worked closely with IAAPA to identify three individuals that fit within those target profiles. Once the individuals were selected, we called each person to talk about our plan for filming, sample questions and the goal for the videos.”


That Repeat Attendee Video was launched with registration and received 12,000 views, 7 shares and 51 responses. It was then edited to serve in their video pre-roll advertisement campaign on YouTube. The video’s VTR (view thru rate) was a strong 71%. The First-Time Attendee Video (with the man pictured left) debuted on social media prior to the Early Bird Deadline and received 21,000 views.


Are you letting your members tell their stories? It’s a great way for other members to engage in your content and hopefully sign up for things like annual expos, weninars and regional meetings.


“Engagement used to be transactional,” said Susan Cato, senior director of digital communications at the Association of American Medical Colleges, during a session at ASAE’s 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting & Exposition. Engagement used to be all about reading content, clicking on a link, and conversions. The current crisis has presented an opportunity, she said, to “elevate the way we interact with each other around a shared purpose.”


Here are seven more examples of an organization showcasing their community's stories:


Food Marketing Institute videos. FMI “opened its virtual meeting with footage of members talking about the importance of grocery stores and communities during the pandemic, the role they played, and how they gave back to their communities,” Associations Now reported. “Opening the event with the stories was so powerful,” said Margaret Core, VP of marketing and industry relations. “That’s engagement: We let the actions of our members tell our story.”


Education Week videos. EW’s Leaders to Learn From continues to tell stories through extremely well-done, diverse and moving videos. Each year, they identify some of the nation’s most exceptional school district leaders and shine a spotlight on their extraordinary impact on the success of educators and students. Looks like there are 12 this year.


AARP Instagram stories. Organizations are using social media to connect with members directly. On AARP’s Instagram page, members speak about how they are responding to various aspects of COVID-19. The stories range from a choir performing virtually during the pandemic, to a teacher speaking about the challenges she faces with virtual instruction, to a worker at a Los Angeles market who explains how his job has changed drastically because of the pandemic.


Catholic Health Association videos. The CHA won two 2020 EXCEL awards for membership videos. In the Shared Statement of Identity, “We are the people of Catholic Health Care,” a diverse group of individuals repeats, one after the other. “Bringing together people of diverse faith and backgrounds,” one woman in the ministry says. It’s a moving video that only their members could convey with such emotion. The two-minute video is expertly done, with that diversity—of all types—standing out.


MedLearn Media content features. “What we did was roll out three new featured weekly segments on topics that we don’t traditionally write about, which are more lifestyle pieces then our traditional news on healthcare rules and regulations,” said Angela Kornegor, executive director of SIPA member MedLearn Media. The segments are Frontline Friday, Stay at Home Kids and The Saturday Post. “These have driven our traffic up by 40% during the pandemic, and we are developing additional sponsor and advertising opportunities within these new segments and laying the ground work for a new subscription model.” Erica E. Remer, MD, wrote a column titled, “COVID-19: Do you have ‘thinkihadititis?’” When the intersection of the racial protests started, another doctor, Steven Moffic, wrote about Billie Holiday and that haunting song Strange Fruit


EB Medicine podcast. In their most recent podcast (called EMplify), EB Medicine focused on Ventilator Management of Adult Patients in the ED. Dr. Sam Ashoo interviewed Dr. Ryan Pedigo of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center,  discussing the nuances of ventilation management for patients with ARDS (especially in those with COVID-19). "Our customers are really in the thick of it," Stephanie Williford, CEO of EB Medicine, told me earlier this summer. "Fortunately, we have an editorial board for each product, and they really drive those product decisions. They're able to tell us from the ground what [our customers] need.”


PR Week content segments. They have three regular features that focus on people in their community telling their stories: Lockdown Life, Coffee Break and A Day in the PR Life. “The media wanted COVID stories—we gave them constructive COVID stories," says Travis Parman, Nissan North America's VP of corporate communications. In another, “PayPal’s senior global communications manager Amanda Coffee moved to NYC just before COVID-19 forced lockdown measures. This eponymous episode chronicles her unique indoctrination to Big Apple living.”


Ronn Levine is editorial director of SIIA. He can be reached at