Friday, June 22, 2012

My Sticky Story

"Write what you know" was something I was taught a lot growing up. There is good reason for it too. Writing about things that mean something to you, whether it be football, cats, food or cars, helps create "sticky stories" or ideas. The idea of a "sticky idea" or story comes from the book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. It's a great way of explaining why some things stay with us, while others don't. Basically, a sticky story has a number of the following features (naturally, not in a fabricated kind of way-you can't fake it or it won't work):
  • Simple — find the core of any idea
  • Unexpected — grab people's attention by surprising them
  • Concrete — make sure an idea can be grasped and remembered later
  • Credible — give an idea believability
  • Emotional — help people see the importance of an idea
  • Stories — empower people to use an idea through narrative
Anybody can write about anything, but when you are passionate about a topic, people can feel it as they read, making your ideas more meaningful and engaging (sticky). It also means that readers will be more likely to share your ideas with others. As it turns out, I wrote a sticky story, by sharing an experience that was near and dear to me.

In February, I wrote a post about one of the main reasons I opted to become a living donor last year: the loss of my dad to cancer. It was a very emotional blog for me to write and I hoped it would explain my decision to donate in a way that might get other people thinking about the idea. I shared the post on social media (Facebook and Twitter), received a few comments from friends and life moved on.

Three weeks ago I received an email from someone who follows me on Twitter. She explained to me that she read my post back in February and it had stuck with her over the last few months. Being in communications, she was wondering if I'd be okay if she pitched my story to her media contacts and maybe they could include it as a Father's Day piece. She thought it would be a great way to increase awareness and possibly encourage others to become donors. I agreed and she put things in motion. It was really wonderful of her to take this on - I can't begin to express how much I appreciate her efforts. 

The Calgary Herald was interested and an interview was quickly scheduled.They ran the story over the weekend, for Father's Day. I think the reporter did a great job in making it even more "sticky". So far it has been shared at over 140 times (minimum) via social sites and hopefully has encouraged people to think about organ donation in general. At the very least, I hope it made people appreciate their dads a little more on Fathers Day. 

When I first started this blog it was for me -  a journal of sorts. It quickly became a tool for my friends and family to better understand my decision to become a non-directed donor. Along the way, I've had a doctor, a publisher and a couple of other people suggest (or in some cases insist) I write a book about my experiences to raise awareness about organ donation in general. I am not quite in a place where I am ready to write that book, but I'm getting closer.

My best friend made the comment the other day: "You do realize this is your calling right?". I guess it is. I love it and I am passionate about it. I feel like I can make a difference.In the last year, I feel like I've been presented with a huge opportunity and responsibility to speak to the need for more organ donors in Canada.

Earlier in the week, there was also another article in Metro Calgary by another reporter who had read my anniversary blog post. I am really grateful for both the Calgary Herald and Metro stories this week. Being a communications type professionally, I appreciate how lucky I was to get not one but two major publications to share my story and help put a face or a "sticky" story to organ donation.