1. A guide to working with agencies

    older man laughs amongst autumnal coloured trees

    The Story Network is a free quarterly meeting that brings together in-house charity story gatherers for a session that we call ‘part therapy, part inspiration’!

    Each meeting we pick a topic and people come armed with their experiences, examples of good and bad practice and their questions for the group.

    It’s not a general interest group for anyone who likes or uses stories, it’s a network for those with responsibility for gathering and managing  stories and all that goes with that– GDPR compliance, duty of care, gatekeeping, relationship management and much much more!

    At our October meeting we discussed working with agencies on your fundraising campaigns. Here are our top five tips for how story managers can work effectively with agencies.

    Five top tips

    1. Keep talking

    Build strong relationships with the teams who manage your agencies, whether that’s fundraising, media or digital. If you have strong internal relationships you can ensure that you are involved in all stages of campaign planning and any issues, (usually related to GDPR or factual accuracy!) can be dealt with swiftly and painlessly.

    2. Meet the team

    Make sure you get to meet and brief everyone who will work on your account not just the new business team. Offer those working on your campaigns the chance to see your work in action and receive a full briefing on your ethical storytelling guidelines before work starts.

    3. Involve the storyteller

    Involve the person whose story will be told from the very beginning. Whether they will feature in a film, be a media spokesperson or the face of a fundraising campaign, make sure they are on board with the creative concept. Don’t wait until the copy deadline/shoot day/press launch to get their buy in.

    4. Be responsible

    Remember your safeguarding responsibilities. Make sure you are only allowing highly trusted individuals to interview your service users. Where possible keep the interview process in-house, and provide agencies with full transcripts. If you do use external interviewers (for example on a film shoot or where you have a skills gap) then be present during the interview or ensure a key worker is.

    5. Stick to the facts

    Push back strongly on any agency that is trying to adjust the facts or embellish a person’s story. As story managers your responsibility is to look after the wellbeing of your storytellers and exaggerating the story to deliver on a creative concept is unethical. Be bold and tenacious in your push back on this.

    Join us?

    This was our last meeting of 2019 but we will be back in January 2020. Meetings take place in London and we are generously hosted by those charities with meeting rooms big enough for us. Dates for next year are:

    Wednesday 22nd January, 3.30 – 5.30pm

    Wednesday 22nd April, 3.30 – 5.30pm

    Wednesday 22nd July, 3.30 – 5.30pm

    Wednesday 21st October, 3.30 – 5.30pm

    Topics are agreed in advance by the group. On the wish list for 2020 is diversity, ethics, supporting storytellers who have lived through trauma, managing our own mental health, the science of storytelling and building cultures of storytelling.

    If you would like to join email

    Keep in touch by subscribing to our weekly blog, full of top tips, expert insights, guest articles and highlights of our work.

    We’re always open to hosting guest blogs in the field of storytelling so get in touch if you’d like us to feature you.

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