On your board: Communicators to write stories

By Kim St. John-Stevenson

“He was splashing…enjoying the jungle’s great joys…when Horton the Elephant heard a small noise… Just a faint little yelp, as if some tiny person were calling for help.”

And so begins the children’s book Horton Hears a Who, in which Horton the Elephant happens upon a small world on top of a dust speck.

For those who don’t know the story, Horton’s job is to make the Whos heard. “We are here, we are here” they cry. But naysayers say there can’t possibly be people on that speck.

Horton persists and as the story goes, he gets the embattled Mayor of Whoville, in the town’s darkest hour, to plead with residents “We’ve got to make noises in greater amounts! So open your mouths – for every voice counts!”

The Mayor of Whoville, and Horton too, were onto something. They believed, as I believe, that those of us with a voice must uplift community stories. Illuminate unsung heroes. Shine light on issues that matter. “They are here, they are here.”

But some organizations like yours that recognize the importance of telling their story need help doing so. You’re willing to take a strategic look at your communications efforts and work hard to figure out what you need. You’re eager to say “we are here, we are here.” But who can help?

There are a slew of communications organizations out there – International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the Society for Professional Journalists and others – and I would contend that from within this pool will come some of the greatest nonprofit board members of all time. Professional communicators/board members willing to use their time, talent and treasure to help you shape and share your stories. Because, as Dr. Seuss says,

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,

Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

I challenge each and every one of you to go out and find a professional communicator (or two or three!) willing to serve. Willing to work. Willing to be a Horton and help the Whos be heard.


The Oregon Capital Chapter of PRSA is one starting place for those interested in contacting professional communicators.

Kim St. John-Stevenson is the communications officer at the St. Luke’s Foundation of Cleveland, Ohio. She was a guest blogger this week for Nancy Schwartz at the Getting Attention Blog, which has approved use of her comments and photograph.

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