I assume most of us know about the 5 W’s, or the 5 W’s and 1 H (Who, What, Where, When, Why and How).  At one point in time, letting readers know the 5 W’s and 1 H in the first paragraph of reading was considered the standard for journalistic writing.  I remember learning that in elementary school WAY back in the late 80’s/early 90’s.  For example:

In February 2014, after months of defining strategy, business development, and forming strategic partnerships, Phil, Doug, and Steve Kennedy are officially launching a marketing/advertising agency based in Scottsdale Arizona named Running Robot LLC which is focused on helping nonprofit organizations increase their resources and impact.

A fine enough paragraph; it lets you know what’s happening and gives Type A’s probably all the information they want.  But it’s not the most interesting read and it’s definitely not gripping or emotionally compelling.  It certainly doesn’t engage you as the reader or entice you to learn more.

Today, with our ever shortening attention spans, the most important thing is no longer conveying information as quickly as possible, it’s conveying emotion.

At one point in time, information was valuable.  The telegraph, newspapers, radio broadcasts, the evening news… all replaced or being replaced by Google, online news sites, blogs, social media.  Instant information is something we’ve lived with for years now, and it’s boring.

As we become increasingly better informed and more isolated in a digital world, we look for emotional engagement.  People are looking for a reason to care about things, and information can’t provide that.  Information is cold and sterile.  People want emotion and story, things that are dynamic, engaging, and contagious.

Yet, so many nonprofits are relying on the 5 W’s information and facts to drive donations and engagement.  And while facts and statistics are important, the people behind them are so much more important.  Those people are why NPOs are doing what they do.

There is a real need for engaging, story-based communications in the world of NPOs.  And that’s why we started Running Robot.  We believe NPOs are limiting their capabilities with 5 Ws style communication and poor storytelling.

So back to our 5 W’s example: If I’m re-writing that block to give, arguably, a more emotionally accurate and engaging reason why we’re starting Running Robot, it would look something like this…

Millions of people are hurting, desperate and alone; from babies dying of curable diseases, to women and children desperate to get out of abusive situations, to countless other hardships.  Fortunately, incredibly compassionate people are sacrificing their lives to save complete strangers.  We started Running Robot to help those people do more and make this world a better, more loving place.

Hopefully that second version does a few things better than the first:

  • I hope it helps you understand why we started Running Robot, really get a glimpse of our heart and our organizations mission and culture.
  • I hope it makes you interested to learn more about us.  If it does, that where you can learn about the other W’s and the H.
  • I hope it makes Running Robot more memorable, even if that paragraph doesn’t explain how we help NPOs.

We want to do the same thing for NPOs and cause driven organizations.  We want to help them increase their resources, influence, and impact.  And in doing so, they’ll be able to help more people and change more lives.  We believe the key to doing that is to encourage NPOs using the 5 W’s to start using story/emotion.  And for those NPOs using story and emotion we want to improve that method of communication and increase the resources coming into the organization.

My hope is that Running Robot will be able to, directly and indirectly, help thousands, hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of people through our work.  But for right now, as we launch, helping a handful of people is gratifying.

If you want to learn more about Running Robot, please check out our website and reach out to me.  I just ask that you’ll be patient with me as we polish our website and social media presence.

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May you be overwhelmed with inspiration this week to the extent that you MUST act on it.

Phil Kennedy