Telling our Story

As we tell the stories of Missouri State, we should be clear. We should be interesting. We should be authentic. And we should be consistent.

Stories create emotional and rational connections.


Tell the story

Emotional storytelling

  • Shows your audience you stand for something bigger
  • Connects with their values
  • Gives them motivation to act
  • Makes it real for them
  • Surprises them

Rational storytelling

  • Guides them along the way
  • Gives them the proof
  • Doesn’t overestimate what they know
  • Helps them understand their options
  • Doesn’t underestimate what they’ll understand

Tips for powerful storytelling

Use these tips to connect with your audience and tell the university’s story in a relevant, powerful way.

  • Write in a confident, conversational, professional voice.
  • Use punctuation marks to add emphasis to statements, but use exclamation marks sparingly, if at all.
  • Use one space after each sentence. Not two.
  • Be concise. Sometimes it’s okay to use phrases instead of full sentences.
  • Be specific. Don’t say “breakfast” when you could say “steel-cut oats with blueberries and almond milk.”
  • Use contractions to convey an approachable, friendly tone.
  • Use the active voice.
  • Use strong verbs. They’re short and personal, and they’re a direct link to the emotions.
  • Use simple language, not insider jargon.
  • Use language that includes everyone.

Guiding principles

Getting our story down clearly and compellingly takes a combination of instinct and discipline.

Good writing feels purposeful, intentional and above all, believable. Here are several principles to keep in mind when crafting your next communication.

  • Know your audience

    There’s a world of difference between a transfer student and an alumnus, and what’s important to an international student is different still. Write to the reader’s experience and expectations, and your story will resonate.

  • Make it about them

    Use the second person “you” and “your” to engage and motivate the reader. Our brand platform defines us, but every piece you create is about the reader.

  • Speak to one person at a time

    Imagine you’re writing a letter to a friend or a loved one. It will naturally focus your message, and keep you honest in every sense.

  • Say one thing well

    People are busy. Attention spans are short (and getting shorter). Determine your one essential message, and stick to it. Mixed messages are rarely effective.

  • Make headlines count

    An effective headline is as much an invitation as it is a declaration. It makes an undeniable appeal to the reader that goes far beyond labeling the content below it.

  • Make copy sing

    Pay off your headline, get to the point, support it well and finish strong. The goal is to get your reader all the way to the end. Reward them for their time.

  • Make data matter

    Statistics, rankings, totals and rates of success aren’t the story; they exist to help make your case to the reader. The numbers can add to your message, but they’ll never take the place of it.

  • Avoid clichés and jargon

    We are an institution like no other, and our work has meaning. Our language should never feel expected, and readers needn’t be insiders to identify with our story.

  • Make it powerful

    Use bold, direct statements to capture attention. And get to the point as quickly as possible.

  • Make it personal

    Use first-person plural and second-person pronouns (“we”/”us” and “you,” where appropriate). It engages your reader in a direct, human way.

  • Make it clear

    Every communication won’t contain every detail, so focus on what’s important.

  • Make it relevant

    Consult our core messaging when you’re creating communications, and look for places to include key ideas.

  • Make it worthwhile

    Give your reader a reason to care. Lead with audience-specific benefits (what they get) and back them up with our brand attributes (what we offer).

  • Make it true

    Back up statements with proof points. Share real, honest stories of the work we’re doing.

  • Make it readable

    Vary the cadence within communications. Mix short sentences with longer ones to avoid falling into a rut. Check for rhythm and flow by reading passages aloud.

  • Make headlines work harder

    A headline should be more than just the name of the thing we’re talking about. Since it may be the only thing our audience reads as they scan the copy, make sure it’s interesting and informative.

  • Make it relatable

    We write like we speak, but we align that with our brand personality. This may occasionally mean breaking a grammar rule or two. Used judiciously, contractions and sentence fragments add personality.

  • Make it motivational

    Give your audience a clear call to action, so they know exactly what you want them to do (or know or feel) after they receive the information.


Considerations

After writing any communication, you’ll want to gut-check it. Here is a list of considerations. If you can’t answer with confidence, revisit your work and revise it.

  • Does it align to our positioning statement?
  • Does it lead with a benefit?
  • Does it pair a corresponding benefit and attribute?
  • Does it sound like something a person with our brand’s personality traits would say?
  • Does it sound even better when you read it out loud?
  • Does it include at least one of our key messages?
  • Is it appropriate for the intended audience? Does it convey the relevant aspects of our personality?
  • Does it get to the point, without burying the key message?
  • Do the headlines convey our voice, instead of simply labeling the content?
  • Does it move beyond simply stating the facts to reveal something bigger about Missouri State, our mission and our place in the world?