This story first appeared on PR Daily's sister site Health Care Communications News.
Last week on our long holiday weekend, my co-editor, Jessica Levco, and I took a road trip to Mansfield, Mo., to the home where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived when she wrote her “Little House” books.
As we looked in the bookstore, wandered in the museum, toured the author’s home and the Rock House in which she and husband Almanzo lived for a few years,
we learned a few things to share with other communicators.
Use your eyes for others:
If you read the books or watched the “Little House on the Prairie” television stories, you may remember that an illness left Laura’s sister Mary
without sight. Laura became Mary’s eyes, describing things she saw in great detail so Mary could feel as if she were seeing them herself.
You’re the eyes of your hospital or health care organization. Are you using your storytelling skills as Laura did to create images your readers will
connect with and remember?
Stretch beyond your boundaries: Laura’s daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, was an author and editor even before her mother penned her famous children’s books. Traveling outside the hills
of her Missouri homeland, Rose lived in places as diverse as San Francisco and Connecticut, even served as the first female war correspondent to cover the
How do you stretch beyond your boundaries? As a communicator, do you stay holed up in your office, or do you get out and go where the stories are—feeling
and sharing the pulse of the physicians, patients and providers in your organization and telling their stories?
As many men of his time, Almanzo made many items which remain in the home today—chairs, tables, canes and more. And, like others of their era, the
Wilders didn’t throw things out. They found other uses for them, such as for the beautiful wooden box, which Almanzo changed to a chest in which Laura
could store items after the radio it held stopped working.
Do you re-purpose content? Do you reuse newsletter articles, for instance, as blog posts, or include a previously-created YouTube video in a Facebook, Google+, Pinterest or Twitter
Respond to your fans:
Spoiler alert! One of my favorite things at Laura’s home is her dining room table, left nearly as it was when she passed away shortly after her 90 th birthday. On the table were some of the cards Laura received from her readers. Laura always placed great importance on and made an effort
to respond to readers who took the time to write to her.
Are you like Laura? When followers reach out to you on social media, what do you do—ignore or acknowledge? If you’re to follow Laura’s example, you’ll
Funny, isn’t it, how a little girl with big stories, turned storyteller in her golden years (writing the stories when she was in her sixties and
seventies), can teach us lessons about communication today, 55 years after her death?
Ann Tracy Mueller is co-editor of Ragan's Health Care Communication News.