Shaping Your Story to Sell

gabrielle_wallaceWe can get so caught up in a story or an event that’s happening at one of our senior living communities that we sometimes forget to emphasize to the reporters, editors or producers just exactly how to reference the community itself within the story. These are the people who ultimately have control over how the story will be told, so explaining the context of the story and the proper way to describe the community is crucial.

You may have a terrific story or feature about a resident, but if it is not shared by the media in an effective way, how will the community ultimately benefit?

I have found that repetition is not a bad thing. Reiterating a point, especially with some reporters, is absolutely necessary.  It’s okay to let them know you’d appreciate it if they could mention this event took place at [Insert Name of Community HERE] or ask that they highlight the fact that this individual they’re interviewing now resides at “Name of Community.” Sometimes it helps to give them options for working the name into the story or even offering other ways to refer to the community. I often tell reporters: “If you need another way to reference the community, please call it a senior living community in [city].”

Most journalists and publishers who are not extremely familiar with the senior living and healthcare industry do not realize the impact that phrasing can make when a community is described poorly. Certain words are inviting or engaging, while others seem cold. Try to steer away from the term “facility,” for example. Think about whether you would like to live in a “facility” or in a “community” yourself. Also, be strategic about the actual headline or title you give a story, as it will set the tone for the writer and the coverage.

Jay Leno does a weekly segment called “Headlines” on NBC’s The Tonight Show in which he shares newly published material with outrageous errors or poorly worded headlines in newspapers or magazines. Recently, one was shared that reminded me how important this concept of wording is for all of us. The headline read, “Senior Center Holds Old Bag Sale.” While that may have seemed comical to most, I’m sure that was not the tone or connotation that particular “senior center” wanted to convey.

It pays to remember that without clear community identification the story holds less value from a marketing point of view. A little extra effort to help guide the reporter into strong brand identification and senior-friendly language can make your heartwarming senior living story an effective marketing message—without losing an ounce of the original charm.

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