Hacienda La Puente Adult Education: A Case Study in Effective Storytelling
People love a good story. Stories create emotional connections. They make information memorable. Read on to learn why you should pause to ask: What’s my organization’s story, and how are we telling it?
People love a good story. Stories create emotional connections. They make information memorable. In fact, Mention.com shares in this article that people retain 70% of information through stories, but only 10% from data and statistics. That’s because “the brain releases dopamine into the system when it experiences an emotionally charged event, making it easier to remember and with greater accuracy.” (To better understand, check out Mention’s infographic showing how storytelling affects the brain.)
That’s a pretty strong case for pausing to ask: What’s my organization’s story, and how are we telling it?
It’s a question that leaders at Hacienda La Puente Adult Education (HLPAE) asked themselves last summer, when they came to us for help in trying to increase their visibility in the community. We were more than happy to partner with them to help them identify and shape their adult school’s story. Before you can storytell, your organization must do the work of identifying your authentic story.
Located about half an hour east of Los Angeles, HLPAE offers high-quality academic and career programs in state-of-the-art facilities. Their training programs lead to entry-level careers and eligible students can receive federal grant money to help cover the cost of the program, and yet enrollment isn’t where school leaders want it to be.
So, we headed out to their main campus, at the Willow Center in La Puente, to learn more about their work and see their programs in action.
Where do you find your story?
A number of factors go into identifying and shaping your organization’s story, but one good place to start is by taking a step back and reviewing your offerings from a student’s perspective. Or better yet, enlist the help of your students and partners to help you understand the things about your organization that most stand out.
During our visit to HLPAE, we were able to see their culinary students in action, practicing their cooking and baking skills using commercial-grade tools and equipment in a state-of-the-art kitchen that is part of the Culinary Arts Academy. Students have the opportunity to gain real-world experience through an externship and get help with finding a job afterward. In less than a year, adults seeking to launch a new career can become a professional trained chef for less than $5,000 – and eligible students can receive federal Pell Grants to help cover the cost of career training.
HLPAE also offers training for trade careers, such as automotive technician, and health careers such as the nationally accredited registered dental assistant program.
In all, the school offers some 20 programs that lead to entry-level jobs or help current workers upskill. They also offer something few other adult schools do: an on-site America’s Job Center of California (AJCC), which provides resources and assistance to job seekers, helping to create a seamless transition from school to work.
Rolling Out Your Organization’s Story
In our research and during our visit, we found HLPAE had a lot to offer that would benefit the adult learners in their community. Last fall, we conducted market research and used it to develop a brand narrative, logo and tagline. We also conducted a communications audit to understand their current communications situation and where improvements could be made.
With our research completed and their story clear, we launched a landing page to recruit new students that highlights several of their career education offerings.
We’re now in the process of developing a digital campaign that focuses on their career programs to roll out their story to the right audiences.
Do you feel like you have a good story to tell but just aren’t sure where to start? We can help you identify and shape your organization’s story in an authentic way, so you can better connect with your target audiences. I’d be happy to chat with you. Just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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