Safe Storytelling: What is it and who needs it?

November 29, 2021
Published by
Keyy Productions Team

As we push further into the Authenticity Era, audiences are demanding to hear authentic stories told by authentic voices.

You can see this reflected in the rise of influencer and user-generated content, and probably due to the fact we've seen the inside of everyone's houses over countless Zoom meetings; the corporate gloss is well and truly matte-finish now...

Organisations everywhere are turning to real people to share their own personal struggles or success stories to build a stronger, more impactful connection with their audience. As Annie Wylie put it so perfectly in our Safe Storytelling webinar:

"What I've seen is we're really taking a human-centred approach to content production now. Whereas maybe previously we might've had a human story but there was quite an organisational focus to content, now we're really seeing human-first content". Except from Safe Storytelling webinar

This push for more authentic, human-first content has lead to an increase in using real people and stories in marketing + comms campaigns and digital content. It's an effective and powerful way to connect with your audience, but these stories need to be handled safely to protect the individuals involved, and to ensure the success of the campaign.

So, what is Safe Storytelling?

Safe Storytelling is a term our team uses to describe our specialised process for making video content projects that use lived experience or personal stories. This could involve having one of your organisation's users, experts or participants tell their own story on camera, or it could also mean using real stories to inform a piece of content such as developing a script or scenario that will then be delivered by actors or voice over artists (which can be especially important if you need to protect the identity of the participant).

At their heart, these kinds of projects invite real people with actual lived experience to share a part in the content creation process. And Safe Storytelling is a process that enables us to do this safely and effectively.

Person sharing their lived experience to help others

Who needs Safe Storytelling?

We developed our Safe Storytelling approach through working with a wide range of mental health organisations, individual & family support services, and Government agencies on video content projects that were sensitive in nature. We saw a real need, and recognised the importance, to help these organisations practically and effectively tell the stories that matter, safely.

Safe Storytelling isn't only for organisations within the Support and Care sectors, it can apply to any video content project which involves personal or lived experience stories, or sensitive thematic material. For example:

A FinTech company want to produce a series of internal-release videos for Mental Health Month to make sure all their staff know about the company's free mental health support services and personal leave policies. As part of the content, the company wants to interview some of their staff and board members who will talk about their own mental health journey to reduce the stigma and encourage everyone in the business to prioritise their mental health.

While the FinTech company sits outside of the typical industries that require Safe Storytelling, this kind of project would need extra duty of care and consideration to ensure the safety of the staff and the success of the campaign.

Our Safe Storytelling process looks different for every production, and it's not something you have to specifically request when working with us. Safe Storytelling is embedded into our way of working, and our team will offer our support and expertise throughout the entire process.

You can learn more about our Safe Storytelling approach here.

Paige performing our Safe Storytelling technique on set

Duty of Care

There is always going to be some inherent risk with Safe Storytelling projects, especially if the subject matter is deeply personal, traumatic, or sensitive in nature. But this doesn't mean you should shy away from these kind of projects. When done safely, it can be an empowering and positive experience for those sharing their story, and can have a huge impact on your audience.

While each organisation we work with may already have their own internal Duty of Care processes to manage these kinds of projects, our team understand the requirements from a production perspective and have been specifically trained in:

  • Mental Health First Aid
  • Cultural Competency
  • Conducting interviews safely and effectively
  • Creating a safe, comfortable environment on set
  • Ensuring the final piece of content honours the participant's story and the required brand messages

To discuss what Safe Storytelling might look like for your specific project, reach out to our team. We’d love to start a conversation!

Examples of Safe Storytelling projects

There is a wide range of content in this space, but here are some great examples of Safe Storytelling projects.

LIVED EXPERIENCE STORIES:
Here we get to hear Phyllis' story. It's gentle, empowering, and impactful, yet deeply personal. We worked with the SANE Australia team to ensure Phyllis felt safe and comfortable, and SANE  saw their forum users double in just 3 months from the success of this campaign. Thank you Phyllis for sharing your story!

Content warning: This video talks about mental health illnesses. If you or someone you know needs help you can check out SANE Australia's resources or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

VISUAL NARRATIVES:
This video is a great example of how to use lived experience to inform the content, without actually needing to have the person on camera. Here we use an actor in a range of scenarios that are based on real users experiences and feedback.


CONCEPT CAMPAIGNS:

This Bullying or Banter series created for ReachOut Australia shows an example of how Safe Storytelling is required even when the tone is light-hearted and humorous. In this instance, our team worked with the ReachOut team to ensure the messaging in the final video was safe, reflected accurate support information, and was on brand.

INFORMATIVE EXPLAINER VIDEOS:
Content that is sharing information and resources to help a vulnerable audience may require Safe Storytelling, even when the person on camera is a medial professional. In this instance, the safety of the audience receiving the message, and the accuracy of the information and support services, were the main focus of our Safe Storytelling process.

More great content examples in our FREE GUIDE: How To Use Video Content Successfully + Strategically within the Support and Care Sectors.

Free Resources

We’ve created some really useful resources to help you and your organisation understand more about Safe Storytelling and using it effectively in your messaging and comms.

SAFE STORYTELLING WEBINAR:

We dove deep into all things Safe Storytelling and how to use lived experience or personal stories in our webinar: Successful Safe Storytelling, with content expert Annie Wylie from ReachOut Australia.

You can watch the full webinar here:

(Our fave sections are the chapters on How ReachOut Manages Duty of Care (42:09), Writing Project Briefs for Safe Storytelling Projects (31:19) and Recruiting for Interviews (45:28). Gold!)

FREE GUIDE

If you're looking to start making this kind of video content, you can download our FREE GUIDE: How To Use Video Content Successfully + Strategically within the Support and Care Sectors. It's a great place to start your Safe Storytelling journey, and it includes 11 video content examples from ReachOut Australia, SANE Australia, BlackDog Institute, MS Australia, and RAMPH.

Download FREE Guide here

Guide to Safe Storytelling

How to go about starting a Safe Storytelling project

If your organisation would like to chat to a production team about how you could use lived experience or personal stories in your marketing + comms, you can reach out to us at any time. You don't need to have a specific project in mind, we're happy to meet with your team to offer our guidance and help you set the foundations for a future Safe Storytelling project, so that ultimately your team has the confidence to start using powerful personal stories in your campaigns.

As we said: we love to start a conversation, so feel free to reach out to get started!

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Media Enquiries

To have our expert team share their insights on Safe Storytelling at your event, podcast or article, please email us here


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