TRUE Stories

What is the TRUE Stories tactic?

TRUE stories (Timely, Relatable, Unexpected or Expensive) grab attention. Better than false stories too!

In my career as a journalist, I reckon I told around 20,000 stories. Nobody ever said what made a "good" story, we worked on gut instinct. I realised that stories had to hit certain basic marks if I was going to get them past my Editor.

How you can make your stories Timely, Relatable, Unexpected and/or Expensive?

How to use TRUE Stories

1. Start out by writing the one-sentence version of your story at the top of your paper/whiteboard. If you haven't nailed this yet, use the What's It About tactic.

2. Now create four headings: 

  • Timely
  • Relatable
  • Unexpected
  • Expensive

3. Explain the headings like this: 

Timely - it's not enough to say that your idea/project matters, you have to say why it matters NOW! Journalists know a good story sometimes needs a "peg" to hang it on, ie; something currently in our audience's minds that makes this story more relevant. Good pegs can include: anything in the news, anything seasonal or trending in this audience's social world. 

Relatable - simply, how can you express your idea in terms that your audience will know? We easily relate to familiar people, objects and emotions that surround us. Eg: thinner than a human hair, as big as ten football pitches. Tip: check your Audience Profile tool to see what is familiar to your audience.

Unexpected - always gets our attention. What does your audience expect to hear? What do they already know? How can you surprise them AND still make sense?

Expensive - what has it cost you (time, effort, money) to create this message? How much are you invested in it? What's at stake?

This is why we pay more attention to a hand-written note than a "Reply-All" email (or a Like on Facebook). A costly signal carries more weight, a cheap signal is easily ignored.

4. Review what you've written under each heading. Which one gives you the strongest hook for your story?

🤔 Confused? Enlightened?

Let us know! We are still developing Storyteller Tactics. Drop us an email with your feedback. We reply to every single one.

- Charles & Steve.