Storytelling Guide

When a campaign is in the planning stages, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. There’s so much to think about! Who is our audience? Whose voices are we taking into account? How do we balance short-term goals with the long-term change we want to see? What are our assumptions and where are our blind spots? Is everyone clear on what the campaign hopes to accomplish?

This guide brings together key questions, steps and exercises to help anyone build a powerful story.

We believe in a democratic, participatory method for building our stories. This is both a matter of values and of pragmatism. The most powerful narratives come from welcoming in different voices and diverse communities, not shutting them out. So gather your whole team and as many diverse points of views as you can, and let’s get started.



We build stories, yes, but we must also contend with stories that already exist. After all, we’re never starting with a blank slate. That’s why working on a story isn’t just about identifying a hero, a conflict and some pretty images. An effective, compelling story must stand on a base of critical analysis and careful understanding of the dynamics at play. Our narratives begin to unfold even before we consciously  write them. This is why some of our most important work as activists occurs before the campaign even starts.

Begin by understanding these three foundations of the story:


Crafting A Story

The story we tell through a campaign is not so different from one we’d find in a novel, a movie, a myth or a play. Like those stories, ours will contain certain elements. There will be characters, settings, conflict and plots. If we want to maximize the impact of our story, we’ll need to be as thoughtful about each of these elements as any novelist or filmmaker. Here we’ll present some techniques for finding the right story.



Short on time? Looking for some quick, helpful principles to apply to your story? We’ve gathered a checklist of things to keep in mind.