“Tell me the facts and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.”
-An old Native American proverb
A great story is devoted to something higher than the task at hand and has the power to create awareness by tapping into an emotional element that can ultimately unite us for the common good. In order for a story to have real impact humanity must shine through.
Rochester International Airport (RST) has a bigger story to tell and how it offers intrinsic value that is above and beyond any product or service. They never want to be thought of as a commodity. RST’s story is about people and a culture of care that seeks to make a difference in the wider world.
As a global entry point, RST is often the first experience many people have when they come to the community. With that in mind, they are always on the look out for interesting human-interest stories that help tell a wider story. Last February a beautiful story surfaced that allowed the community to come along. It was a story that had been happening in Rochester for twenty years and it was never fully told. RST Delta Global Services employee, Michele Nelson was at the heart of the story.
Nelson and her family was getting ready to host children from Mongolia through Samaritans Purse Children’s Heart Project. She got connected with the program through her church at Calvary Evangelical Free Church and has been hosting families for three years. The program has been a long standing community effort, for more than twenty years, Samaritans Purse Children’s Heart Project and Mayo Clinic have been partnering to provide life saving operations for children from Bosnia, Kosovo, Honduras, Uganda, Mongolia and Bolivia.
“Healing hearts is not a job of two organizations. It takes a wider group effort. It takes families. It takes a community,” said O’Connor. She knew the story needed to be told and reached out to Encore Public Relations to do a short film documentary following the five-week journey inside Mayo Clinic, host family homes and the wider community. The film captured the life saving medial care and community support through food, lodging, transportation and overall hospitality for the children, parents and interpreters. “The story is about healing more than hearts physically. It’s a much wider narrative about how our community comes together to provide hope and healing that in the end really transforms everyone’s heart,” said O’Connor. The story was shared widely through RST channels, area media and churches, inside Mayo Clinic, and other organizations.
When RST discovered that Delta Airline employee, Michele Nelson was getting ready to host children from Mongolia that would undergo life saving heart surgery, a decision was made to document and share the experience. RST commissioned us to do a short film documentary that followed the five-week journey.
For the Mongolian families and the community, the journey was more than just healing hearts physically. It’s a much wider narrative about how the community comes together to provide hope and healing that in the end transforms everyone’s heart.
RST’s is a great example of how to build brand awareness, affinity and preference through purpose driven storytelling that focuses on the human narrative. The story of the airport reflects who they serve creating real, true and authentic connection with its target audiences.