3.1: Storytelling & Communications Summary

Well before content is written, even before a project officially ‘starts’, the story of your OER has begun. How you discuss and describe your work – internally and externally – is important as it informs the decisions you make in your OER. In what follows, we share the whys of storytelling and the guiding communications principles of open publishing.

Underlying principles

Storytelling starts at day one, or better yet, day zero. We think the story of an OER begins right from the initial idea -including the reasons for creating it, the subject it covers, your team approach, and people who make up that team. Get in the mindset of telling that story early and often.

Every open resource project is different: so is the story. Our suggestions are a guideline, not a standard. Formulate your own suggestions, based on what happens in your project, and share them with the larger community in the forum!

Collaboration in storytelling and communications is as important as it is in content creation. The more voices and perspectives that are brought in, the greater the diversity, which also leads to greater potential for adoption, use, and re-use.

Connection-making is at the heart of communications. Create and tell a story about your project, connect with those who listen, and respond to their feedback.

Who’s Involved?

Storytelling and communications can be done by anyone on the team, but not everyone thinks of themselves as a “marketing person.” That is why it’s best to provide a clear outline of the promotional plan, along with the resources your team members will need to communicate with a consistent message. Some of the roles are:

  • Project leaders: who create the plan and decide on the strategies to deploy
  • Communications lead: who assembles the promotional material, writes a project summary, composes tweets and other blurbs
  • Contributors: who can provide (or solicit) reviewer blurbs, endorsements, and recommendations for communications channels
Key Tactics

Word of mouth and grassroots efforts are easily the most effective tactics for communicating the story of your OER. The team working on your resource is one community, but you and everyone else in it has ties to many other communities and can help get the word out! To that end:

  • Reflect on the content of your OER (approach, vision for the discipline, knowledge, research, text, media, contributors, students, pedagogy)
  • Acknowledge and validate different types of knowledge, expertise, and ways of seeing and being in the world to connect with relevant, current discourse
  • Use storytelling to describe your project (purpose, vision, people)
  • Identify avenues, opportunities, and stages to market your OER at every phase of the production process
  • Showcase the team members behind the work – make it personal!
  • Share aspects of inclusivity, accessibility, and diversity in your concept, content, and design

Like all the processes in publishing openly, storytelling and communications may happen in iteratively, and/or in unexpected ways. Build trust and deepen your understanding of motivators within the team by making everyone a part of it, and nurture their involvement as ambassadors for the OER. If you all think about storytelling as a meaningful tool to help you communicate the people, purpose, and vision of your work, this will allow it to find its market – those readers, adopters, and adapters who need it.


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The Rebus Guide to Publishing Open Textbooks (So Far) Copyright © 2019 by Apurva Ashok; Zoe Wake Hyde; and Kaitlin Schilling is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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