Participant Story Sharing FAQ
Info about sharing your story
EMPath engages current and former program participants in sharing life stories. We’re so excited that you’re interested in sharing! Your privacy and agency are our top priority and we’d be happy to hear your story in whatever way you’re most comfortable.
You’ll fill out a consent form before sharing your story. Please read through these FAQs before signing the consent form.
What is the story sharing process?
- You or your mentor lets the story team know you might be interested in sharing your story OR you get an invitation to share your story.
- We set up a call and provide more information so you can make an informed decision.
- If you decide to share, you’ll fill out the consent form. We’ll use the name you select (first name only, full name, pseudonym, etc.). You may withdraw your consent at any time.
- If sharing for the written story bank, we schedule an interview with you (unless you choose to write something yourself). If sharing for a speaking engagement, we help you prepare your remarks.
- For written story bank only: Before the story is published, you’ll be able to make edits and give final approval via a short second consent form. Once the story is published, EMPath has consent to share the story on various platforms and with different audiences.
- Because we believe in compensating people for their time and labor, we’ll give you monetary recognition (usually a gift card). If you are doing a press interview, we can’t compensate you, but we will buy you lunch.
- 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 being 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.
Where would my story be shared?
You may be sharing your story for a speaking engagement, our written story bank, or a media interview.
Speaking Engagements (excluding media)
- Stories shared orally (may be with or without video)
- May be advocacy-related events like lobby days, fundraising events for EMPath’s donors, or marketing materials like videos
- When you share at a speaking engagement, you’re giving us permission to pull anonymous quotes from your story for social media, written testimony, emails, flyers, etc.
- Work with EMPath staffer to brainstorm talking points, write your story, and prepare for speaking engagement
- If you record a video story, we’ll get your approval before the final version is shared. You will indicate on the consent form if you want to be notified each time EMPath shares the video. We do not have control over when and how others share it.
- May be virtual or in-person
Written Story Bank
- Stories shared in writing (print and digital)
- 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 (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube), in fundraising appeals, in reports, and/or occasionally in advertising materials (ads, emails, brochures, postcards, signage). You’ll be able to indicate on the consent form if you’d like to be notified when we use your story in the future.
- Option to either write your own story or be interviewed by EMPath staff member who will write it
- Stories shared with a journalist for either radio, TV, or print news
- Usually a reporter contacts EMPath looking to speak with someone, then we contact you and help you prepare
- We try to get as much info from the reporter ahead of time (including potential interview questions)
- Often much more public than speaking engagement or written story bank — reaches wider audience
- EMPath doesn’t have control over where story is distributed
- More details on this prep sheet
Why would I share my story?
Your story may be shared with the following goals in mind:
- To showcase and honor the hard work and resilience of EMPath participants
- To inspire other participants, or encourage new people to join an EMPath program
- To raise money so that we can continue to operate 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 seek a job at EMPath
- To attract organizations to join EMPath’s global network
- To explain what EMPath does and why it matters
Who would see my story?
After you sign the consent form, your story, and any images or videos you give us permission to use, may be shared with…
- Donors or supporters of EMPath
- Subscribers to EMPath email lists
- Followers of EMPath on social media, and followers of anyone who shares EMPath’s social media posts
- EMPath staff
- Participants in EMPath programs
- Staff at organizations that work with EMPath through our global network or advocacy coalitions
- Attendees at a speaking engagement
- Lawmakers, people who work for government agencies, and policy experts
We will NOT freely share your story with members of the media without your express permission. 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 control who comes across your story on the internet or guarantee that news outlets won’t display your story/photo on their own platforms.
Do I have to share my story?
Absolutely not! Sharing your story is your choice alone and will have no effect on your participation in EMPath’s programs.
Do I have to answer every question?
- No — you don’t have to answer any question you don’t want to. If you get asked about something in an interview or at a speaking engagement that you’d rather not talk about, feel free to just say “pass.”
- We’ll send interview questions ahead of time. Note that there may be additional follow-up questions based on the flow of conversation that can’t be anticipated in advance. For media interviews, we likely won’t be able to get a full list of questions beforehand.
- There are certain topics we’ll never ask about in an interview: 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, it just means it’s your decision to bring up these topics. (We can’t control what a reporter asks you, but you can always pass.)
Can I change my mind or withdraw my consent?
- Absolutely. You can remove yourself from this process at ANY time, even after completing the consent form.
- To withdraw consent after completing the form, email EMPathStorySharing@gmail.com.
- 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).
- If you have chosen to join the Story Sharing Network, we’ll be checking in with you periodically about renewing your consent.
Written Story Bank Only
What types of interview questions would I be asked?
- Sample questions:
- 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?
- In what ways did your EMPath mentor(s) support you?
- What have you learned from participating in this program?
- What is the main thing you want anyone who reads your story to know?
- Looking ahead, are there any goals you look forward to accomplishing?
- If you were mayor/governor/president, what is one thing you would change?
Can I approve a written story before it's shared?
- Yes. Before we publish your initial story for the written story bank, we’ll send it to you to review to make sure it’s accurate and you’re comfortable with it. We won’t use it if you don’t grant final approval.
- You can provide any edits/feedback you want (within the restrictions of story length). You’ll usually be asked to provide edits by a certain date.
- IMPORTANT: Your story will likely appear initially on our website, but we may want to use it in other places in the future, like our Annual Report or a fundraising appeal letter. You’ll be able to indicate on the consent form if you’d like to be notified when we use your story in the future. This notification is just an “FYI” — we won’t wait for your approval (you will have full approval and editing power over the initial version of story!).
- Unfortunately, a story for the media can’t be approved ahead of time — that’s out of EMPath’s control.