Key Takeaways

    • It’s always the decision of the survivor and co-survivor whether or not to go public. Simply put – your story, your terms.
    • If you go public, make sure you and your family are ready to be in the public eye. Make a plan.
    • Do your homework on the journalist, media outlet, or advocacy group to ensure alignment of values and mission.
    • Find out as much as you can about how, when, and where your story will be used. Once your story is out, there’s no turning back.
How can I share my story on my own terms?

Human interest stories, like surviving against the odds, have great power to connect emotionally with audiences—especially if there is an educational purpose that can save future lives. That’s why news outlets and other organizations may reach out to you to share your story. This article provides tips on how to consider and manage media and advocacy requests on your terms. The journey of your recovery is uniquely your own.

Your story on your terms

People are naturally drawn to news stories about “cheating death” experiences that happen to fellow human beings. Advocacy organizations feel the power of personal stories helps make the cardiac arrest experience real. For both groups, stories raise awareness and understanding of cardiac arrest, CPR, and AEDs to save lives and engage viewers and/or donors. 

But it is and always should be the decision of the survivor and co-survivor whether or not to go public. Simply put – your story, your terms.

Deciding whether or not to tell your story publicly

The decision of if or when to share your story with the media is a big one that requires careful consideration. 

    • First, make sure you and the survivor are emotionally ready to share your story with the world. Be prepared for a possible flurry of requests from other sources that could follow. Once the story is out on the internet, in this digital age, there’s no turning back.
    • Determine purpose and motivation in telling your story. Are you trying to raise awareness, encourage CPR education, advocate for your local first responders, etc.? Having a clear goal and direction helps.
    • Consider the possible negative impacts of having your family’s medical situation disclosed. 
    • Recognize how telling your story on your terms can help you and others, too. Some survivors and co-survivors find sharing their stories healing while processing their experiences. The awareness created by your story could help others recover and even save more lives.
Preparing for an interview or speaking engagement

So you and your family have decided to take your story to the public. What now? How do you prepare? Here are some general tips and important considerations:

    • Who is the journalist, and what media outlet do they represent? 
    • How will your story be treated, and in what format?
    • Who will be interviewed?
    • Will this be a live interview on camera? Will it be taped in advance? When and where will it run? Will it go out on a newswire service so other outlets around the world can run the story?
    • Will you have any say in what gets presented before it is published?
    • If the news story will be online, will the comment section be turned on or off? How will it be moderated? How will feedback impact you?
    • Wearing solid-colored clothing works best on camera. 
    • If you are asked by an advocacy group to speak, do a podcast, or support fundraising efforts, make sure their values and mission align with yours. You’re associating your name, reputation, and personal story with their brand. Remember, you are judged by the company you keep.
    • Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns and state your terms and conditions before you commit.

Sharing your story with the media or an advocacy group is not for everyone. Carefully weigh the pros and cons before you commit. You have no obligation to anyone, and you can always decline. It’s not what others want from you that matters. Rather, it’s what feels right and is meaningful to you. This is your story. This is your journey.

Thank You to Our Contributors

Jennifer Chap & Cindy Marchionda

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