In the winter 2015 edition of their publication, “Imagine,” Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles placed a heart-warming story of bravery and courage—a story that won CHLA a 2016 Bronze Anvil.
The story, “Standing Tall,” tells of 19-year-0ld Noah Akaka who was diagnosed with Diamond Blackfan anemia—a “rare disease that came with difficult complications.” The author writes of Noah’s bravery in his illness and the strength required of a family whose loved one is suffering.
This long-form piece was awarded a 2016 Bronze Anvil by the Public Relations Society of America in the “feature story” category.
As an award category almost completely focused on written content over tactics or campaigns, two questions need to be asked: what makes this an award-winning story and how does this story benefit CHLA in their public relations, communications and overall goals?
What makes this an award-winning story?
To begin, the piece employs a strong, emotional lede that makes the audience want more. Why is Noah suffering? How does he fair in his illness? How does his family cope with this? The lede creates questions that readers want answered in the rest of the story.
Like any good feature story should, “Standing Tall” has a strong human angle. The author uses pathos to appeal to the readers’ emotion and make them feel the hurt for Noah. Pain is a basic emotion of humanity, and humanity is a necessary part of any feature story.
In addition, the writer stayed away from confusing, technical medical language that might have left the reader confused or uninterested.
How does this story benefit CHLA in their public relations, communications and overall goals?
In simplest terms (and besides the fact that this is a compelling feature), the piece is a humble brag for CHLA. It accomplishes what any story should when featuring, at least in part, an organization, business or figure. It put the organization in a bright spotlight and made the benefactors feel that what they’re giving is being put to superior use.
With the features in “Imagine,” there was also an annual report. So not only did the shareholders and influential persons of the hospital get to see how their money was spent, they also got to see how it was benefiting others—and quite possibly encourage them to give more because of the positivity in Noah’s story.
Overall, this is a touching story that accomplishes several goals for CHLA. From a PR standpoint, a touching story like this that affirms and encourages benefactors is a win-win, and that is why it took home a Bronze Anvil.