Overview of this campaign
The Arizona Storytellers Project was created 4.5 years ago to reflect and serve the greater Phoenix community by curating and hosting nights of true stories, told live by neighbors and notables.
By blending journalistic ethics and oral storytelling best practices, reporters coach community members to share entertaining, illuminating stories that can be received by a diverse audience in the spirit in which they were intended.
The nights were designed to do six things:
1. Content generation – Podcast, Radio edits, Pre-show stories, Post-show stories, Photos, Video, Full-length audio, Social Media content
2. Branding moments for sponsors and partners to generate a halo effect and create PR messaging unlike traditional advertising sales opportunities.
3. Subscriber/Reader Acquisition
4. Subscriber/Reader Retention
5. Brand Building for Individual Journalists
6. Community Development, including creating a space for all voices to be heard and all kinds of stories to be celebrated.
The nights serve as a vehicle for sharing true, first-person stories authentically, generating empathy among community members and a greater affinity for the Arizona Republic brand.
Roughly 40-60 percent of attendees are non-subscribers and these nights are designed to offer people who aren't connected to our journalism with a new touch point, a new way to demonstrate our relevance and trustworthiness.
We believe the stories we tell define us. They make us who we are as individuals and as a community. In telling, we affirm the lessons we've learned. In listening, we deepen our connections to those around us. Arizonans have a million stories.
The Arizona Storytellers Project can help people tell them, and give them a reason to listen, too.
Results for this campaign
After more than 500 stories shared, through the Arizona Storytellers Project, we know that when people feel empowered to tell their stories, and others feel excited about listening, something in a community changes. People feel closer to each other. They feel more accepting of those unlike themselves. They feel more connected to their city and the people in it.
They feel more ready to invest in it financially and emotionally.
More than 500 people have been coached to share true, first-person stories across almost 90 events.
The Arizona Storytellers Project covers its expenses. It’s generated more than $15,000 in after-cost revenue from ticket sales in 2015 alone. In 2015, the project secured its first sponsor for $113,000. Of that, $75,000 was purely for naming rights.
In the first year, 10 nights averaged 75-100 attendees each time. In 2016, the Arizona Storytellers Project will host 20 nights, drawing from 250-350 each night, with up to 630 attendees at the annual Holiday Spectacular, and partnering with organizations including the Arizona Diamondbacks, Phoenix Art Museum, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Arizona, Arizona Pride Festival, Phoenix StartUp Week and Modern Phoenix Week.
The project is being expanded to leverage up to six additional revenue streams. And it's being expanded geographically through the USA Today Network, with eight other Gannett newsrooms launching their own versions, including Nashville, Louisville, Cincinnati and Palm Springs.
Expansion markets are already seeing immediate, robust success. In the four new markets that have hosted nights so far, they’ve all sold out to rooms of 200-400 people.
And editors and reporters love the experience and find it gratifying, inspiring and invigorating. Newsroom managers, storytelling editors and senior writers are coming on board to coach tellers and execute the nights - enabling newsrooms to use the project as a retention tool.