ESM Summit: Building Trust With Stories (Joanna Lord)

The highly-caffeinated Joanna Lord came to stage at the EdSocialMedia Summit to preach loyalty — and explain how it’s changing quickly. Instead of writing sensational copy to sell a product or promoting the “values” of an organization, building a tribe now happens through the stories told about a company.


Telling stories means more than simply talking about the cool things happening at a school. Those stories must also provide a value to the person, be it putting a smile on their face (which leads to sharing) or solving a problem (leading them to take action).


Joanna provided 5 tips for building those relationships, through trust and engagement:

  1. Authenticity: Put a face to the people in charge and those doing the work.
  2. Engage: Find the influencers, those who share, and engage them.
  3. Bring the Wine: Give people something valuable.
  4. Make the work fun: She urged “gamification,” which I agree works well. People love a reward.
  5. Rethink the thank you.

During her talk, Joanna also suggested people watch Simon Sinek’s TED talk “Marketing Your Why.” That is embedded below.

Josh Loftin

Senior Partner at Route 89 Communications

Josh Loftin oversees the marketing and communications for Wasatch Academy, a private college preparatory boarding school in central Utah. He also owns Route 89 Consulting, which assists small businesses, nonprofits and schools with long-range planning, marketing strategy and program development. Josh previously spent nearly 15 years as a political reporter in Utah.