Using partnerships to tell meaningful stories

Chama Mwenso

Communication professionals will be familiar with the challenge of landing their clients’ stories in a fast-paced, competitive and cluttered media landscape. It has evolved significantly over the past years, and it is no surprise that old-fashioned press releases are no longer enough to pique a journalist’s interest to cover a story.

Communication consultants have had to re-invent themselves and do things differently to keep up with the change. Understanding the media landscape and how audiences consume news is, of course, imperative. But to land on the right platforms for the right audience requires packaging content to suit that audience – and finding unique and impactful ways of telling stories is the trick to reaching that goal.

That is where the challenge comes in, especially in a world where audiences are bombarded with information demanding their attention no matter where they turn. However, what has proven to be an effective and enduring way to capture this attention is by forging partnerships that yield meaningful results.

Just recently, I saw this come to life. One of our clients was embarking on a winter drive, which entailed supplying warm clothing to disadvantaged children. Needless to say, they wanted the story to live beyond a single event and charitable donation. The cause was great, but the question was: how could we make it relevant to a community audience beyond the children?

Finding the sweet spot involved linking it to a wider issue, and entering into a partnership that did more than simply hand over goodies. That spot was a partnership with the Emergency Services of Johannesburg (EMS), who during winter roll-out safety campaigns across the 189 informal settlements in and around Gauteng. These campaigns are aimed at educating communities in an effort to prevent fire incidents, fatalities and injuries.

This special partnership meant EMS gave a safety educational talk to the children, while our client supported through the hand over. Because of the partnership and its ability to marry meaningful results and newsworthiness, we were not only able to achieve great results from an awareness point of view, but also to form a long-lasting relationship with EMS to collaborate on future projects.

This is one small example of how partnerships with reputable organisations add value, and really brings to life the old adage: Alone we are strong… but together we are stronger.