We live in an age of information overload. Particularly when it comes to written content on the internet. As a contributor to that cacophony, there are certain principles I try to keep in mind when I consider what projects to work on, and what to write. I share them here as a constant reminder to my clients and myself:
1. Mindful engagement. Through my work I aspire to remain cognizant and aware of the systemic inequity that exists within our society, and of my role within that inequity as a white, cisgender woman. Whenever possible, I engage with clients and projects in a way that creates space for the voices of people who have historically been silenced.
2. Cultural sensitivity. I grew up and was educated on two continents (read about my background here). My deep understanding of American Jewish and Israeli Jewish culture allows me, and my writing, to gracefully span both of those worlds. It also reminds me of what I do not know. In my work I question rather than assume, continuously seek new knowledge, and view every client or project as an opportunity to learn.
3. People-centered storytelling. As a grant writer for a non-profit that aimed to integrate Israel’s Arab community with its hi-tech industry, I truly connected with the organization’s mission after preparing one of its program graduates for a fundraising trip in the U.S. It wasn’t until I got to know this Druze woman who, as a result of her participation in the program, secured an engineering job in the U.K, that I fully understood the impact of our work. Getting to know her story fundamentally changed the way I described that work to donors, and contributed to increased funding. People, and their stories, are powerful. My work will always center around them.
Perhaps one of the more trendy words in Start Up Nation is relocation. In the Israeli tech start-up context it implies moving from Israel to the US (generally) to grow a company and bring it to the big playing field. Well, I guess I recently did a reverse relocation, staking my claim as a true 50-chetzi Israeli-American by moving for the sixth time between Israel and the US. This time, my family and I moved from Philadelphia, where my partner had been studying for the last four years, to Tel Aviv-Yafo, a city we know and really love.
I'm thrilled about move #6 for so many reasons, but I'm especially excited about what it means for Jiri Creative. I started this venture to help mission-driven organizations reach their audiences through impactful content. Israel is bursting with creative initiatives waiting to make a global impact. But when I was living in Philadelphia, ever-so-slightly removed from the Israeli bubble of New York-San Francisco-Boston, I barely heard about them. That's a shame, and a wasted opportunity for Israeli organizations that truly want to reach American and global markets.
Here's the thing: the world is more connected than at any previous point in history. But for storytelling to be effective on a global stage, it still needs to be localized. I talk a lot about how easily I move between Israeli and American culture, but that took years of practice and refinement, and the movement between is the operative term. Meaning, they are not the same, and adjustments need to be made for a message to land the way it is intended.
I am so excited to support mission-driven organizations in Israel and ensure that their messaging lands the way they want. Perhaps:
-Your marketing team can't quite get your content strategy right to engage authentically with your customers.
-Your non-profit's donor communications are meeting blank stares.
-Your social enterprise needs highly effective collateral to raise funds.
Whatever your storytelling needs are - I'm here. Let's get to work :)
Although I have been writing my whole life, I started writing professionally as a development coordinator for a small non-profit. I loved writing grant applications and narrative reports to donors because they used stories to impact the life of an organization in a very direct and tangible way. But I also longed to write more creative content so that I could play a more active role in determining what stories to tell, and how to tell them. I decided to venture beyond grants (although I still write grants!) into other types of content creation, an endeavor that became Jiri Creative.
When I first took the leap into the online content creation, I was taken aback – not in a good way. The internet is full of, well, junk. As a regular practitioner of meditation, I noticed my mind pulled in a million directions. I felt frustrated at the thought that, perhaps, I couldn't tell the stories I wanted to without compromising the quality of my writing and becoming a subpar content churning machine. After all, I am a quiet person who, particularly in group settings, only speaks when I have something valuable to share. In the world of content creation and content marketing, where did I fit in?
Last year, I took part in a workshop at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. In groups of three, we conducted a mindful listening and sharing exercise, in which we took turns talking for three minutes about an experience we’ve had, while the other group members listened without responding. After we completed the exercise, the entire room joined together to reflect. I reflected that, when given the opportunity to be deeply, mindfully listened to, I became aware of the value of each word I was saying. As I shared my experience with two other people, I spoke slowly, pausing multiple times and questioning the benefit and value of every word I chose to speak.
I approach my writing similarly. As an online consumer of goods, services, and information, I strive to choose the content I engage with mindfully. Shouldn’t I take the same approach as the creator of that information? When I write, I try to create what I call "honest content". Beyond aiming for my writing to comply with Google's Panda algorithm, which favors high-quality content, honest content includes the following elements*:
As a storyteller and writer, I hold the value of honest content closely, ensuring that my work falls within this definition. I want the words I put on paper to matter. I want to consider the value of each word: what impact will it have on its intended audience? What feelings will it evoke? Joy? Pain? Excitement? The stories we tell are the sum of our experiences as humans, of the actions we take as individuals, organizations, and communities with the goal of building the world we want to see. The words we use to describe those actions should be crafted with the same goal in mind.
*A note on privilege: I was born into privilege, a financial and socioeconomic position that has enabled me to launch a writing business, and to be selective about the work I take on. I fully acknowledge that not everyone is able to make those choices. More specifically, I am aware that not every writer is free to write content of value and from the heart. Because I do have that privilege, though, I feel I must use it to create good in the world. To me that means doing my part to break down oppressive and unjust systems that perpetuate the reality in which another person is afforded different opportunities simply because they were born a different color or in a different place.