Telling your story in six words
Ernest Hemingway once told a table of writers that he could write a story in just six words. They each bet him ten dollars that he couldn’t. So he took his napkin and scribbled the following:
For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.
It has a beginning, a middle, an end. It makes you think. Most importantly, it gets to the point. Doesn’t complicate, adumbrate, obfuscate.
It’s a skill that we should all aspire to, because so often we only have a tiny window of opportunity to tell our own story. Be it a fundraising ask, call to action or campaigning message. Our audience is busy, distracted and often uninterested. We have to cut through the background noise and make a point pithily.
Of course, it starts with a clear proposition. I’m a stickler for them (sorry planners) – no ifs, buts or ands conjoining separate thoughts together.
GOOD Agency’s own story is ‘we unleash the good in people’. Six words. To the point.
Two more examples from us are ‘shouldn’t your health come before profits’ and ‘it’s all of us versus cancer’.
The first was a political campaign for UNISON running on billboards, in press and online. The second was a Race for Life recruitment campaign for Cancer Research UK, running on posters, in press and online.
Although they have very different aims, they consistently distill the information into a simple, powerful message. Which helped them both make the shortlist for the Campaign Outdoor Hall of Fame.
So set yourself a challenge. Can you tell your story in six words? It’s a great test, because it’s exactly what you’re asking your agency to do: on posters, on banners, in tweets.