Case studies in effective writing

It’s one thing to give advice on how to be a better writer. It’s another thing to prove it.

In addition to my posts here, I do quite a bit of writing as a part of my work with clients. I’d like to feature some recent work and demonstrate how my writing met my clients needs.


The challenge

For its 2012 annual report, kidsLINK desired a story that went beyond your typical overview of a program and using a client story as an illustration of how the program made an impact. They looked for a more in depth piece that featured a client’s story and wove in how it served its client through the various programs and services it offers. Through telling the client’s journey, they desired highlighting a innovative program they had launched in 2011 and how its emphasis on wellness, resilience and being trauma-informed made it different than anything previously offered in the field.

Definitely more than could be easily handled in the standard short annual report story.

An ambitious challenge but one that I believe we met by making the story the client’s story. I wrote it using a narrative story arc that highlighted the child and his mother’s ups and downs and the climatic event that helped bring him into the agency’s Encompass program. By doing so, it helped to show why the program was a good fit and how his situation was being addressed through a trauma-informed approach that emphasized resilience and wellness.

The solution

Here is the story I wrote that shows how the team at kidsLINK is making a critical difference in helping children and their families.

YMCAs of Cambridge & Kitchener-Waterloo

The Challenge

What do you do when your director of communications has left and a year end newsletter needs to go out? You call in your former NAYDO award winner director of communications who understands the YMCA and its brand. The same guy in fact who renamed your newsletter “YMCA Stories” to reflect the Y’s internal story-telling culture. Yes, me!

A tight timeline existed since the end of the fiscal year was imminent.

This particular issue was a key one since the YMCAs had opened the Stork Family YMCA in Waterloo in the fall, a major threat to its child care programs existed and the new national branding standards needed to be introduced.

The solution

For me, the Stork Family YMCA story was a nice bookend to the work I had done as the idea for the project crystallized to when I wrote and lead the creative direction for the annual case used to raise funds for it. I knew the impact we had promised the community and so knew how to demonstrate we had kept it.

I was also working for the Waterloo Regio Early Learning Coalition on its public relations efforts so I was able to bring that knowledge into that story–but within a YMCA specific context.

I also had worked with Quarry Integrated Communications on branding for our YMCAS so I understood the national direction and was able explain it.

Being a quick study and bringing with me my knowledge and experience, I was able to tell the YMCA’s stories and meet its deadline.

Here is the newsletter as it was published.