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What Is Story Capture?

At Stones’ Phones, we believe in the power of storytelling to change hearts and minds. Stories can connect us on an emotional level, help us understand complex issues, and inspire us to take action. Story Captures are a tried-and-true tool to help organizations and campaigns capture the voices of real people and use their stories to make an impact. What sets our Story Capture programs apart is our focus on capturing the words and energy around an issue.

Story Capture involves sending out a live or automated call to a targeted group who cares strongly about your issue. If they agree, we give them the opportunity to record why and how the issue impacts their lives.

There are several use cases for a Story Capture program:

  • Looking for the real words voters use on an issue

  • Looking for supporters who are passionate

  • Looking for what undecided voters say about an issue

  • Looking for passionate spokespeople on an issue

Looking for people who match a demographic you want in an ad

  • Looking to improve the efficacy in your polling

  • Looking for issues that are gaining traction

  • Looking for donation commitments

  • Looking for volunteers

Best Practices for Story Capture

To have a successful Story Capture program it’s imperative to get the best recordings possible. Here’s some of the best practices we’ve found over the years:

Send your Story Capture Program to Landlines and Cell Phones. We see better response rates when calling both. Calling cell phones ensures higher rates of people answering the phone to record their message.

Target those who have a connection to your cause. The best stories come from people who have a personal connection to the issue you want to hear about. We can use targeted data or membership lists to find these great storytellers.

Call a Large List. The best Story Capture programs get the most effective recordings from calling from a large list. The larger your target list is, the more opportunity there is to reach those with a story to tell.

Keep your Message Short. We want to hear about others’ stories, not tell our own. Keeping the message short and direct gives people the chance to tell their own thoughts and feelings surrounding an issue.

Make sure the person who is giving us a story knows that their words could be used a number of ways: Let them know you may use their recording on your website, in communications with their elected officials, in a radio, TV or digital ads or given to reporters.

How has Story Capture been Successful?

Prosperity Michigan

Over the years, we at Stones’ Phones have run numerous successful Story Capture programs. These pro

grams can bring new ideas and thoughts to the discussion that politicians and organizations may not think of simply because it takes someone close to the issue to explain its importance.

Prosperity Michigan ran a great Story Capture program that targeted working families worried about no paid sick leave, surprise medical bills, expensive prescriptions, and student loan debt. To bring light to these financial issues, we told the voters how their legislators were voting on the issues that mattered to them.

We received close to 100 passionate recordings. One impactful comment from a voter was, “We’re two senior citizens, me and my husband, and we have a lot of prescriptions, and we need the government to step in and help us. We’d appreciate it if somebody would try to help all the seniors. We’re all in bad shape.”

Additionally, the Story Capture program was used in digital ads so that people hear a familiar voice and remember why it matters that legislators stand up for all their constituents rather than just the powerful and well-connected in Lansing, Michigan. You can listen to these recordings here.

House Majority PAC

In the wake of House Republicans passing Trump’s American Health Care Act, House Majority PAC wanted to see if they could impact voting behavior by talking about legislative issues early in the electoral cycle. They wanted to hold Republican legislators accountable for their voting record on repealing the ACA.

Stones’ Phones targeted voters from swing districts represented by House Republicans who voted to take health care away from 23 million Americans. We asked these voters to record personal stories about how they and their loved ones would be affected by repealing the Affordable Care Act. Of those we called, 8.5% recorded a message – a total of almost 600 personal stories.

House Majority PAC then chose the most compelling stories and shared them on a website called “Voices from Your District”, successfully naming and shaming Republican legislators. Those evergreen recordings were valuable ammo when contesting close House races. You can listen to the compilation here.

Story Capture programs are a great tool for advocacy. If you’re interested in learning how a Story Capture program could work for your organization, reach out for a free quote here.


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