Participant Story and Media Sharing FAQs
Info for current and former participants
We are so excited that you are interested in sharing your story with EMPath. Our goal is to make this a fun and positive experience for you. Participant stories, along with photos and/or videos, can help spread the word about EMPath’s impact to get more funding, advocate for policy changes, showcase resilience, and inspire others to achieve their goals.
Stories, photos, and videos will only be used with your consent. You have absolutely NO obligation to share your story, photo, or video. Choosing not to give consent has no impact on your participation in our programs.
Please read through these FAQs before signing the consent form.
1. What's the process for story sharing and consent?
EMPath engages program participants in sharing stories for speaking engagements, our written story bank, and media interviews.
- Stories shared orally
- May be advocacy-related events like lobby days; fundraising events for EMPath’s donors; or marketing materials like videos
- Work with an EMPath staff member to brainstorm talking points, then write down what you plan to say
- All virtual right now
Written Story Bank
- Stories shared in writing
- Collection of stories detailing successes and experiences of EMPath participants
- “Hub” for these stories is the Personal Stories section of our website; also used on social media, in fundraising appeals, in reports, and in other materials (more info below)
- Option to either write your own story or be interviewed by EMPath staff member who will write it. For an interview, you’ll be sent questions ahead of time.
2. Where will my story, photo, or video be shared?
After you sign the consent form, your story, and any images or videos you give us permission to use, may be used in print and digital format in these ways:
- EMPath’s website (click here for examples)
- EMPath’s social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube) (click here and here for examples)
- Fundraising materials (such as email and mail appeals) (click here for an example)
- Marketing/advertising materials (online ads, emails, flyers, brochures, postcards, or signs on display in an EMPath office) (click here for an example)
- Reports (research papers, impact reports, annual reports) (click here for an example - page 4)
- Legislative advocacy materials (lobby days, written testimony, emails, action alerts, flyers) (click here for an example)
- Training materials for EMPath staff and staff at other organizations (click here for an example)
- In stories or videos in the news media, including but not limited to newspaper, TV, radio, magazines, and online publications (click here for an example)
3. Who will my story, photo, or video be shared with?
After you sign the consent form, your story, and any images or videos you give us permission to use, may be shared with the following people:
- Current or future donors or supporters of EMPath
- Current or future subscribers to EMPath email lists
- Current or future followers on EMPath’s social media, and current or future followers of anyone who shares EMPath’s social media posts
- Current or future EMPath staff
- Current or future participants in EMPath programs
- Current or future staff at organizations that work with EMPath through our global network or advocacy coalitions
- Attendees at a speaking engagement
- People who help shape policies that impact EMPath and our participants, such as politicians, people who work for government agencies, and policy experts
We will not freely share your story with members of the media. However, keep in mind that once your story/image/video is out in the world, especially when it’s on the internet, it can theoretically be seen and duplicated by anyone. We can’t guarantee that news outlets won’t display your publicized images or information on their own websites (see below for more info).
4. What are the goals of sharing my story, photo, or video?
After you sign the consent form, your story, and any images or videos you give us permission to use, may be shared with the following goals in mind:
- To showcase and honor the hard work and resilience of EMPath participants
- To inspire other EMPath participants, or encourage new people to join an EMPath program
- To raise money so that we can continue to operate our existing programs, or start new programs
- To demonstrate the impact of EMPath’s coaching model (Mobility Mentoring®)
- To influence legislators and other policymakers on issues that affect EMPath and our participants
- To attract people to support EMPath
- To attract people to seek a job at EMPath
- To attract organizations to join EMPath’s global network
- To help explain what EMPath does and why it matters
5. What information will be shared?
- First name only unless you indicate otherwise
- If you’d like to remain anonymous, request on the consent form to have your name changed
- We’ll honor whatever name you put on the consent form that you’d like to go by
- We’ll never publicly share personal contact info like address, phone number, email address, or full names of your children
- For the written story bank, when you review the draft of your story before it’s published, you’ll be able to remove any information you may have shared in the initial conversations or interview that you don’t want to be public
6. What happens after my photos and information go public?
- EMPath has limited control over the extent of your story’s reach after it’s made public
- Once stories, photos, audio, or video enter the public domain, it’s possible for anyone else to screenshot or copy them. It’s important to keep in mind that anyone can access your story, photo, or video once it’s public on our website, social media, emails, etc.
- Before you sign the consent form, make sure you’re comfortable with your story/photo* public. EMPath can’t control how — or for how long — others use or distribute your information, photos, or video.
- We also can’t guarantee that news outlets or other organizations won’t display your publicized images or information on their own websites
*Note: Sharing photos is optional
7. I'm not sure I want to make my story public. Do I have to sign the form?
Absolutely not! Signing the consent form and sharing your story, photo, or video is your choice alone and will have no effect on your participation in EMPath’s programs.
8. What if I get asked about something I don’t want to talk about during an interview?
- You don’t have to answer any question you don’t want to. Saying “Pass” when asked a question is TOTALLY fine!
- We’ll send you the interview questions ahead of time. Note that there may be additional follow-up questions asked based on the flow of conversation that can’t be anticipated ahead of time.
- There are certain topics we’ll never ask about in interviews: domestic violence; sexual assault; abuse; suicide; death; acts of racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, sexism, or other types of discrimination. This doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to talk about these things; you’re welcome to talk about anything you think is relevant. It just means it’s your decision to bring up these topics.
- We know everyone has different triggers depending on identities and life experiences, and we can’t know them all ahead of time. There’s a question on the consent for where you can write anything not on the above list that you definitely don’t want to be asked about. The interviewer will be sure not to ask about these topics.
9. Can I withdraw my consent?
- Yes. You can remove yourself from this process at ANY time, even after completing the consent form.
- If you want to withdraw consent after completing the form, let your EMPath mentor or another staff member know and/or email EMPath’s Communications Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Important: If we have already publicly shared your story, image, and/or video, your withdrawal of consent can only impact future use (aside from taking a written story off the Personal Stories section of our website, which we can easily do).
10. Do I have final approval of a written story or quote before it's distributed, whether in print, online, or otherwise?
- Yes. Before we use any portion of the story, we’ll send it to you to review to make sure you feel it’s accurate and are comfortable with it.
- You can provide any edits/deletions/additions/feedback you want (within the restrictions of story length). You’ll usually be asked to provide edits by a certain date.
- We won’t use your story, photo, or video if you don’t grant final approval
After the original version of your story is published for the written story bank (usually on this page), EMPath may want to use it in other places, like our Annual Report or a fundraising appeal letter. Our policy around this is:
- We’ll always ask for your approval if the story is being edited or condensed. For example, if you approve your story for the website and we later want to include a shortened version of it in a fundraising appeal letter, we’ll send you the draft of the letter for your edits and approval before it’s finalized.
- For cases where the story is NOT being changed from the original version, there’s a question on the consent form where you can indicate whether or not you’d like to be asked for approval.
For photos and videos, we are NOT able to ask you each time we use them. However, you can still let us know if you don’t want your photo or video to be used in any future materials.
11. Will I receive monetary recognition for sharing my story?
- Yes. You’ll receive a gift card as recognition for the time you’re taking to share your story. We’re honored and grateful that you have chosen to share and we believe in compensating people for their time and work.
- Other than the gift card, you won’t receive any special treatment or additional “perks” as a result of sharing your story
12. When does my consent expire?
Unless you contact us beforehand to withdraw consent, the consent form expires TWO YEARS from the date on the form. At that time, EMPath will reach out to you to ask if you want to renew, change, or withdraw your consent.
13. What are some sample interview questions?
- Tell me a little about yourself.
- What are some of your interests?
- What goals did you complete in the program that you would like to share?
- What is a moment that you experienced a shift in perspective?
- What experience or moment would you be most excited to share with people who have little knowledge of EMPath and and its programs?
- In what ways did your EMPath mentor(s) support you?
- What have you learned from participating in this program?
- In what ways has your life changed as a result of participating in this program?
- What is the main thing you want anyone who reads your story to know?
- What is one accomplishment from this program that you’re particularly proud of?
- Looking ahead, are there any goals you look forward to accomplishing?
- What made you decide to get involved with EMPath’s Speakers Bureau/Voices Advocacy Council? What were some of the issues you spoke about/advocated for?
- If you were mayor, governor, state legislator, president, or in another position of power, what is one thing you would change?