As professional communicators, we all know ‘the story is the thing.’ A story breaks down barriers. It builds understanding. It fosters trust and camaraderie. It’s how we share experiences and pass down history from one generation to the next.
The untold story is even more powerful. It challenges our belief system and forces us to think differently. It inspires us to change our behavior and share that inspiration with others.
So, what makes a great story? This question was explored earlier this year at the Aspen Ideas Festival, and The Atlantic captured perspectives from some of the best storytellers out there. In a nutshell, a great story moves us, it is real and authentic, it has conflict and it has a character to which we can relate.
I am reminded of great stories on each and every anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. A day marred by great tragedy and sadness, it is storytelling that helps us cope and honor the memory of the many lives lost. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t recall intimate details from that Tuesday morning in 2001: where we were, who we were with and how we felt. Yet, despite the day’s horrible events, the stories I continually hear are of hope and inspiration. In the days, months and years following the attacks, many previously untold stories emerge that show us no amount of evil can overcome the human spirit.
Of the many stories of heroism that day, one stands out for me: The man in the red bandanna. A dozen people, maybe more, were able to make their way to safety from the 78th floor of the World Trade Center South Tower with help from a young man. It took many months to identify this man, piecing together the accounts of the people whose lives he saved who knew him only by the red bandanna he used to cover his mouth and nose. Fortunately, more than a decade after the tragedy, his story is untold no more.
Inspiring? Check. Authentic? It doesn’t get more real. A captivating character? Got it. This story stirs a strong emotional response every time I read/watch/hear it. This story ensures that I will never forget the horrible events of that day and reminds me how inherently good people are. This story compels me to reflect and think about how I can be better. And most importantly, this story inspires me to put on my red bandanna and write my own untold story that will impact positive change at work and at home.
How are you inspiring and engaging others? What is your untold story?
TogoRun (www.togorun.com) is an award-winning, full-service global health and well-being communications and public affairs agency with offices in New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and London. The agency specializes in integrated marketing and communications, branding and positioning, advocacy and government affairs, issues and crisis management, and corporate communications and social responsibility.
Epilepsy is a chronic disorder of the brain characterized by seizure and tremor episodes. It affects people of all ages – in every country of the world.
Epilepsy is close to the heart at TogoRun. A few of our trailblazers have family members living with epilepsy and see first-hand how the disorder impacts everyday life. Despite affecting approximately 65 million people around the world, there is still much unknown about epilepsy and there is no cure. In fact, one-third of people with epilepsy live with uncontrollable seizures because there is no available treatment that works for them. Those whose seizures are controlled, mainly by medication may still suffer from related conditions, including:
• ‘Not doing well’ at home, school, work, or with friends;
• Cognitive or learning problems that require special help or accommodations;
• Symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other changes in mood or behavior;
• Problems sleeping;
• Unexplained injuries, falls or other illnesses; and even
• Risk of death.
Why Purple Day?
“Purple Day,” an international grassroots effort dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy, takes place each year on March 26th. This past Wednesday, many of us at TogoRun wore purple to show our support. Purple Day was created in 2008 to help educate others about epilepsy. It was started by a true trailblazer: an eight-year old Canadian girl named Cassidy Megan who was motivated by her own struggles with epilepsy. Cassidy’s goal for Purple Day is to encourage people to talk about epilepsy in an effort to dismiss myths and inform those with seizures that they are not alone. By simply being unafraid to tell her story, she has rallied people from all over the world to proudly talk about epilepsy and call for more work to be done to find a cure.
Purple Day shows that you do not need a huge budget or corporate PR machine to make an impact, but rather demonstrates how effective communications can be born out of passion and a compelling story. Please join us and millions of others in support of increasing awareness about epilepsy.
- 65 MILLION: Number of people around the world who have epilepsy.
- OVER 2 MILLION: Number of people in the United States who have epilepsy.
- 1 IN 26 people in the United States will develop epilepsy at some point in their lifetime.
- BETWEEN 4 AND 10 OUT OF 1,000: Number of people on earth who live with active seizures at any one time.
- 150,000: Number of new cases of epilepsy in the United States each year
- ONE-THIRD: Number of people with epilepsy who live with uncontrollable seizures because no available treatment works for them.
- 6 OUT OF 10: Number of people with epilepsy where the cause is unknown.