Storytelling for businesses has never been so scrutinised; by the public, by staff, by stakeholders and by the media. The easy access to social media is being used to hold all types of organisation to account and reputations can be affected in matter of minutes. Being open and transparent is not so much of choice but more of a major requirement. There are some famous exceptions such as Mars and Apple – although the latter is still discussed at length and has recently been more forthcoming.
Companies are creating news all the time: there are personnel changes, product launches, price rises, offers and changes to the services offered. The importance and value of these pieces of information will differ from audience as will how they are communicated. Be aware of what is happening and who is interested, then you can plan to ensure to tell your story in the right way to the people who are most interested.
As well as the news which can be planned there will be unexpected events which occur and a co-ordinated approach for responding to these should be part of your communication strategy. With a little knowledge and experience, you can even start to predict what might happen and prepare accordingly. Seek out the long-term members of staff for ‘war’ stories and combine with some research of your own into how current issues might overlap with your business activities.
Help your audiences by being consistent with your output. A company with a shared vision should have spokespeople, ambassadors and frontline staff all saying the same message – maybe not in exactly the same words but using the same values. For clarity be concise, avoid waffle, jargon and slang. Briefing documents and talking points can give communicators confidence but ensuring that shared vision will deliver the best results.
The phrase ‘key messages’ is often heard in marketing circles and can evoke the concept of a strictly limited set of text which must be used religiously in all communications. For a more authentic approach, work at promoting an understanding of the company’s purpose and values through the organisation. This is an ongoing activity which should not be limited to occasional briefings, internal newsletters and chairman’s statements. It can be cascaded via management structures and team leaders should be assessing how well their teams understand the what, why and how the company does.
If you would like to get your stories told, please get in touch.