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How to host a community storytelling event

The Arizona Republic built a live storytelling event into a series of 16 events a year that not only draw enough revenue to pay for themselves but also to contribute to the organization’s bottom line.

Over the course of four years, the Arizona Republic built an Arizona Storytellers series that became profitable and gave them a means to engage their citizens, through events that attract sellout crowds at intimate venues that old 150 to 250 people. The event involves giving a forum for local residents to tell their own stories. The series was inspired by a video project the organization did at the point of the state’s centennial, highlighting the importance of looking at events as a natural extension from editorial projects. And the staff attributes success for these events in part to forging strong local partnerships with a community college and with the local NPR affiliate, KJZZ.

“Storytellers opened our eyes to the bigger opportunities and broader opportunities to build those personal, face-to-face connections with both our existing audience and exposing us to new audiences,” said Randy Lovely, senior vice president for news and audience development at the Republic.