Data and stories

So many people tell us they don't have data that could be used to paint a story. Our reaction generally is "What? Have you talked to the team who gather the data? Find out what they are monitoring and let's work out how that can be translated into a statement."

One of our clients works with people who are homeless. They have plenty of data at their finger tips, but they don't know how to use it. We helped them out by giving them this example: In the most recent Census over 100,000 people are described as homeless in Australia. That is one in 200 people. For most of us that sounds a large number but we still don't really get how large a number or how big a problem that is. We showed our client how to translate this data into a word picture, using the example of seats in a sports' stadium to make the point.

  • 105,237 people in Australia who are homeless
  • 100,000 seats at the 'G.
  • 5,237 still in the queue for a seat.

Another client worked with children experiencing family violence. Again, the figure is huge but broken down, we learned that one in four children either experienced or witnessed family violence. We used four pairs of shoes to make the poignant point.


It is important to translate stats and data so they mean more to whoever you are wanting to convince.

For example, a recent poll showed that 47% of people want to volunteer more often. Our recommendation is to say half of the people in the poll said they wanted to volunteer more.

Or what about 10% of young people ... could translate into one in ten young people.

Peter finds a job

We recently were engaged by a jobs' agency to research, interview and write stories about some of their successful case studies. Among some of the examples written for us was the story about Peter who found a job after being unemployed for one year and three months. He had used our employment service for 13 days.

There was nothing wrong with this except that it lacked punch and power. We turned it into:

After two weeks of using our jobs' service, Peter found a job - he had been looking for 449 days.