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Human stories - the power of one.

The photograph showing the Royal flag over Buckingham Palace could have been taken by any enthusiastic tourist. But behind Melissa Mead’s snap posted on Twitter last week (21 February) is the latest milestone in her campaigning work, for which she received an MBE for services to raising awareness of sepsis.

Melissa has been working with The UK Sepsis Trust after her son, William, lost his life to sepsis just after his first birthday in 2014. Since then she has given talks, appeared on national TV and created an awareness-raising video that went viral with over 18 million views. The recognition she has received underlines the importance of first person, human stories for PR campaigns for health and humanity-focused organisations trying to drive change.

Image: Melissa Mead's son, William

A privileged glimpse into a person's life

First person narratives are powerful because they create a connection with an individual in a way that an organisation or brand cannot do. You’re given a privileged glimpse into a person’s life and can see the raw emotions that led to the transformation from ‘not doing something’ to ‘actually doing something’. This one-on-one intimacy allows us to project ourselves on them and ask ‘what would it take for me to do that?

By sharing personal stories with the wider public, individuals can compel others into action whether through committing to a change to their daily lives, making donations or investments, taking campaigning actions or encouraging conversations with their peers. They can be told a multitude of ways such as press interviews, photo stories, short films, or blogged content.

The best case studies are led by an individual and can have far-reaching impact. Volunteering charity, The Helpforce, recruited an impressive 33,000 people after being chosen as the Christmas campaign for a national newspaper. Media coverage focused on case studies of existing individual volunteers, with them explaining the benefits of giving up their time – who also then featured in films for the campaign.

In the medical world, it's no longer enough to hide behind the band - people want to see the singer

It’s not just charities who can benefit from a first person approach. As a communications agency we frequently see investors looking to back start-ups in the biotech sector who want to know the story behind the founder(s), and to see the drive and resilience they have before giving them funding. In the medical world, especially in highly networked markets like the UK, people want to know who’s putting their name and reputation behind a study or an opinion-piece: it’s not enough to hide behind the band, people want to see the singer.

Whether told through words or pictures, such as Melissa’s, human stories are the life force of successful PR campaigns, allowing organisations to create change. Words and intentions will only get you so far: people want to see the emotions that have turned ordinary folk into extraordinary people.

About 11 London

11 London is an advertising and communications agency, based in West London but working globally. We work in the areas of health and humanity, with organisations, brands or products that improve or prolong life.

Our PR services include working with clients to discover and amplify their core messages in order to build profile and engage new audiences. We co-ordinate advertising and social activity with PR campaigns and collaborate closely to support in-house resource.

To learn more about 11 London, please contact:

Matthew Hunt


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