Skip to main content

Shaping Your Story

What Makes a Story Engaging? Identifying the Potential Stories in Your Research.

Workshop participants talked about what often makes a good story, using this Infographic from NPR to outline what they have found to be the most popular stories. (possibly insert image of the infographic)
This is based on an NPR study where they put up local Facebook posts about Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, Boston and Southern California, and then measured the success of each post based on the proportion of people seeing the post who liked it, shared it, or commented on it.

They identified similarities in the most ‘engaging’ Facebook stories. (Keep in mind that this is about engaging with local cities and is not specifically about science communications.)

You can think about how your research might fit into one of the categories they’ve identified pictured below.

9 Tyoes of Local Stories that Cause Engagement, by Eric Athas and Teresa Gorman, NPS. Place Explainers, Crowd Pleasers, Curiosity Stimulators, News Explainers, Major Breaking News, Feel-Good Smilers, Topical Buzzers, Provocative Controversies, and Awe-Inspiring Visuals
Place Explainers - Could be local studies: Why is Davis a Dark City? Why is the Central Valley so Dusty?
Crowd Pleasers- Bring in some local pride: Does Davis produce the best tomatoes? Are students here the fastest bike-riders?
Curiosity Stimulators- ‘It’s the type of story that captures the geeky, quirky side of a city’. I imagine that there are lots of curiosity stimulators being produced by University scientists.
News Explainers- Basically everyone that can contribute to understanding of the drought will be able to aim at this group.
Breaking News- I don’t know how often our science will be breaking news- since it usually takes a long time to get science sorted- any ideas from Kat & Ben?
Feel-Good Smilers- ‘Think “aww”, think “awesome”, think “hilarious”. Most of all, Think positive’ Humor too.
Topical Buzzers- These are ‘buzzy’ stories, but could be considered in science stories about hot topics that are capturing attention now- climate change, drought, fracking, etc.
Provocative Controversies- These may not be the kind of stories that we’re looking to get out, but you may have some ideas about them.
Awe-Inspiring Visuals- Take advantage of this! Take lots of pictures of your work. Get people to take pictures of you doing your work.