We love redemption stories.
That’s why when panhandler Ted Williams, who lived under an exit ramp in Columbus, Ohio, became an overnight sensation because his golden broadcast voice garnered him a slew of job offers, we cheered for the underdog. It’s a heart-warming story that gives us hope in humanity.
Williams had been a radio station announcer in the ’90s, but fell on hard times. He lost his house in 1993. He admits he had previous problems with drugs and alcohol and also had some brushes with the law, but he says he’s now clean and straight. His luck changed when a Columbus Dispatch reporter recorded a video of him last month, then posted it Monday at the paper’s web site. Since then, the job offers have been rolling in.
Williams accepted an advertising gig with Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and a full-time announcer’s job with the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. On Thursday, Meredith Vieira and Matt Laura interviewed him on the Today show, which Williams opened with his distinctive voiceover.
So what can you learn from this to benefit your business or nonprofit?
Look for the redemption stories in your organization — media love them, and so do their audiences and readers. Those stories could be anywhere in the organization — owners, managers, employees, volunteers, customers or clients.
If possible, show how your organization has helped “redeem” the person. Did you give someone a second chance? This makes the story even stronger.
If the media isn’t interested in your story, there are still many ways to use your story. Use it on your web site, in customer and employee newsletters and at recognition events. Make it part of your organization’s mythology or story culture.
Not every redemption story will wind up on national news, but everyone has overcome hardships and are potential subjects for redemption stories. Spend time talking to the people you work with and get to know them. Eventually, you will discover many possible ideas that you can turn into great stories.