What makes a stressed man go to the YMCA?


(Or, What forces a PR person ever use the words “new initiative”?)

PR Newswire offers sample press releases in a “nonprofit toolkit.”

 Please don’t use them. Ever!

 One sample starts like this:

The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago recently unveiled a health and wellness initiative aimed at helping Chicagoland adults and families cope with the increased stress levels that they are experiencing.

I suggest it should start more like this:

When John Doe stepped into the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, it was six months after he’d lost his wife, started trying to raise a teenage daughter alone, and learned his cholesterol was through the roof.

From there, the press release could talk about the health-and-wellness initiative by showing how it was designed to help something like Doe. His story would humanize an otherwise boring here’s-another-wellness-initiative story that’s not likely to get a reporter’s attention.

It’s storytelling, drawing in readers — and reporters — by getting them interested in someone else who’s feeling stressed, just like they are. They want to know more about this guy, and they’re probably wondering, “Why’d he go to the YMCA, of all places?”

That means they’re reading on.

On the flip side, anyone who read about a new “initiative” isn’t wondering anything. They’ve turned on the TV by now.

Your thoughts? Agree or disagree?


4 thoughts on “What makes a stressed man go to the YMCA?

  1. I couldn’t agree more. You always need to be telling a story when you write. Even for annual reports or blog posts. We connect with people by telling (and hearing) stories.

    • A friend of mine recently told me that her client said, “I prefer passive writing.” Yikes! She might as well have said, “I prefer to have no one read our publications.”

    • Me, either. I really prefer “toolbox.” (Just kidding, but I think you should make that suggestion next time and see what happens.)

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