100-year old story adds current context

Cyril Barblett was killed in action in France on 11 September 1917. Photograph courtesy Australian War Memorial (public domain).

Cyril Barblett was killed in action in France on 11 September 1917. Photograph courtesy Australian War Memorial (public domain).

Behind every policy, program or product there is a person affected by a situation. As content marketers we add context and inspire others when we find that person and tell their story.


Starting this August Australians will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Great War and honour the men and women who fought in that war and the conflicts that followed.

We’re doing a content marketing campaign that involves the ANZAC Centenary.

A key part of our  strategy calls for stories from the 1914 – 1918 era to educate, inform and inspire website visitors and social media users.  I have been working with my colleague, former Reuters writer Sharon Kelley, and I’m continually amazed how Sharon can craft a story from the barest of details.

Recently Sharon wrote stories based around the Australian Government’s Centenary grants that support the commemorative efforts of local communities.  And she delved  beyond officialese to uncover personal stories and tell inspiring tales.

For example the official information on a grant to a small Western Australian organisation is “research and construct a new honour board for the Shenton Park Community Centre to commemorate the servicemen from West Subiaco who served in the First World War. $1810.”

Sensing this particular grant involved more than money, Sharon applied her imagination and research skills to review  military records, image libraries and back copies of old newspapers to seek out the men from the Great War who could be affected – 100 years on- by this grant.

In doing so she collected and crafted content that tells the sad tale of two brothers that the Shenton Park community will honour.

 Shenton Park honours local men

In the spirit of helping the returned soldiers from the front, the head trainer of the Subiaco Football Club Ted Freeman suggested in 1915 that all Football League trainers volunteer their services to massage wounded soldiers and help their rehabilitation.

While the trainers were massaging soldiers, Percy Barblett from Subiaco volunteered for the Australian Army Medical Corps in July 1915 and set sail for EuropeHis younger brother Charles ‘Cyril’ Barblett followed in June 1916.

Percy was assigned as a Red Cross searcher and eventually returned from the War.  Cyril served in the Artillery on the Western Front  and was killed in action on 11 September 1917… to the distress of his brother,  his parents and his sisters, Alice, Dell and Marjorie.

The Shenton Park RSL Sub Branch will install a new honour board to remember the men from Subiaco, like Percy and Cyril, who served in the First World War.  And they will do this helped by a $1810 grant from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Sharon’s efforts involve classic storytelling.  They inject life into the official announcement of this grant and show why it is so very important. It is a case of a story bringing the dry data of government to life.

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