A morning show client launched a break by immediately cutting right to the heart of the story. It started fast. On the surface, there were things to like about the effort. But the break didn’t connect. It came off as a random segment that didn’t resonate with listeners.  And fixing it was easy. There was only one thing missing: context. Stories need a context.

Here’s how the break started. He said,

If my dog dies, I think I should get at least one paid day off from work, and maybe a whole week.

The topic was rich with potential, and he had even prepared multiple talking points to develop multiple breaks.

  •  My dog is like a family member. If a co-worker lost a parent, spouse or child, they’d get paid time off.
  •  I have no kids. Other co-workers get time off for kid things all the time. They get benefits I don’t.
  •  Who gets to decide what bereavement should be for? Grandparents? Aunts and Uncles? Nieces and Nephews?
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As the topic developed, he expected calls from bosses that would add friction and conflict. He was prepared for calls that went deeper into the topic like:

  • What is the cutoff point? Cats? Snakes? Hamsters?
  • Have to apply company policy without discrimination.
  • There’s nothing in the employee handbook.
  • Employees who cheat the system just to get paid leave.

But the topic didn’t get there. Artistry must be applied for stories to get traction. The problem was the hook. The story didn’t resonate and the topic didn’t ignite because stories need a context.

Stories Need a Context


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