Strategic Storytelling

WHO: Strategic Storyteller Ellen Newman

WHO: Strategic Storyteller Ellen Newman

The Short Story

Strategic storytelling defines Ellen Newman.Ink. Our job is to help you find your essential narrative so you can connect with the people who matter to you and your bottom line. Notable organizations I’ve showcased include the San Francisco Zoo, the CORO Foundation, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, the San Francisco Design Center and Congregation Sherith Israel. My travel and design stories have appeared in the Dallas Morning News, Honolulu Advertiser, Vancouver Sun, Nob Hill Gazette, Spaces and SFDC News.

The Narrative

I grew up with stories all around me. My father produced coming attractions for Hollywood’s Universal Studios. An aficionado of words like COLOSSAL and COMING SOON, my dad saved his best for me – stories about Pumpernickel and Rye – twins who took me to the moon and beyond on their magic rocket ship. It was years before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin showed me just how real a story can be.

Home was Los Angeles, a city I still love. At UC Berkeley I joined the Daily Cal, met my husband, David, and got a degree in history. I did graduate work at UCLA, where I learned about the power of strong, clear narrative. I received a master’s degree in journalism with an emphasis on documentary filmmaking.

Back north in San Francisco, I have been telling strategic stories professionally since the giant pandas and the Primate Discovery Center opened at the San Francisco Zoo, accompanied by the twin messages of education and wildlife conservation. Highlights from my years at the zoo include six ribbon cuttings and exhibit openings in one year with then-mayor Dianne Feinstein, touring Joe Montana and Robin Williams around, the media frenzy surrounding a pair of Patas monkeys on the lam for six weeks and discovering that I really am allergic to pandas. During my tenure at the zoo, attendance grew by 50% and zoo membership doubled.

At Jewish Family and Children’s Services, my donor profiles helped grow the organization’s endowment from a dozen named funds to more than 100. My child-development stories put the Parents Place family resource center on the media’s go-to list. The 11 targeted publications I wrote and edited each year, including award-winning annual reports, touched the heart with stories about many of the 40,000 clients JFCS served annually and the dedicated volunteers and donors who so generously offered their support.

Ellen Newman.Ink, born in 2000, took on publicity for the San Francisco Design Center’s events, broadcasting the virtues of smart, sensuous and green design. At SFDC I interviewed such design legends and innovators as Albert Hadley, Orlando Diaz-Azcuy, Clodagh, Vicente Wolf, kitchen designer Johnny Grey, hotelier Ian Schrager, and architects Stanley Saitowitz and Calvin Tsao. From them I learned to see how the visual environment impacts people’s lives. At SFDC we explored strategic issues facing the design industry, including the role of the Internet, design integrity in a global marketplace, affordable housing in the midst of a bubble and green design before green was the color of the month.

Being open to the unexpected led to a six-month adventure in Southeast Asia, courtesy of a USAID legal project on which my husband worked. New friends, new experiences and new cultures fed my travel writing, which has appeared in the Dallas Morning News, Honolulu Advertiser, Vancouver Sun and the anthology Something that Matters.

A different sort of adventure welcomed us back home to San Francisco. At Congregation Sherith Israel I co-chair a fierce band of communicators who have taken on the challenge of rebranding a pioneering congregation born at the height of the Gold Rush. Our strategic urgency: generating support for a multi-million dollar seismic retrofit for our historic sanctuary building. Collaborating intently, we developed an integrated communications strategy that included the design and production of a new logo, collateral materials and a richly detailed quarterly newsletter; writing, editing, photo editing and project-management for a new website; and guiding a highly successful media relations campaign for our seismic retrofit.

My strategic message: Ellen Newman.Ink is ready to tell your strategic story to the world.

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