March 11, 2020 • Sam Grabel
Corporate storytelling now, with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, has become incredibly important as organizations work to instill calm and showcase a track record of reliability in uncertain times. Storytelling is at the heart of everything that corporate marketers and communicators do, and it has been a cornerstone of History Factory’s business for more than 40 years. As CEO Bruce Weindruch states in his book, Start with the Future and Work Back: A Heritage Management Manifesto,“History is an interpretive process. It isn’t carved in stone. The facts and names and dates stay the same, but the stories themselves should be continually reinterpreted and told in ways that keep them relevant.”
That is our charge at History Factory—to help our clients understand their past and to pull stories forward that can be used in myriad ways to achieve goals for the future. The stories that we uncover today can help push organizations forward to flourish tomorrow. We put the story in history.
In this guide to corporate storytelling, we’ll examine the benefits of storytelling, considerations for good storytelling, tools that can help you tell a story effectively, and, finally, storytelling in action.
Good storytelling is imperative for both internal and external communications. People are 22 times more likely to remember information conveyed in the form of a story rather than facts and figures.
Why? Storytelling affects the human psyche in a variety of ways. At its best, it conveys authenticity and connects with audiences through the universal language of shared experience. Even if the audience doesn’t share the exact experience, a story can evoke emotion, trigger memories, leave an impact and move people to act. Storytelling also encourages people to empathize with a situation that may otherwise be unrelatable. In short, it brings your messages to life.
Internally, storytelling can help with:
Externally, storytelling can help with:
It’s not an easy task to tell a story in a cohesive way, especially if it involves the history and experiences of a company. Do you want to highlight your company’s founder? Do you want to highlight a moment when the company overcame adversity? How about focusing on how it has positioned itself for the future?
Furthermore, what format should the stories take? Should you produce a publication? A documentary? A series of social media posts? Other short-form content? An exhibit or display? An AR/VR experience?
We’ve identified several keys to effective and engaging corporate storytelling:
Once you understand how to craft an effective and engaging story, then you can begin to understand how to craft your organization’s story. Here’s how.
A key component of an effective and engaging story is how you’ll use it. Organize stories in a content bank for quick and easy use across multiple platforms. You’ll have a source of content that’s ready for you to draw from as specific storytelling needs arise.
Storytelling can be used to advance your organization’s goals. Here are a few examples of corporate storytelling in action.
We have been helping companies celebrate big milestones for more than 40 years. Our guide to celebrating your company anniversary offers insights on how to approach an upcoming anniversary.
How exactly can storytelling make people care about your company anniversary? For starters, it’s important to get your messaging right. And whether you’re developing original content or uncovering stories through crowdsourcing, stories need to build an authentic connection with the intended audiences.
Storytelling can support HR initiatives, including identifying and attracting talent, onboarding new employees, increasing employee engagement and giving your workforce a sense of purpose. Use stories to help foster an emotional connection with your company, its founder(s), its alumni and its customers for greater impact.
Consumers and employees today demand honesty, transparency and ethical decision-making. Storytelling can help people understand the how and why of your organization’s CSR strategy. Corporate social responsibility reports often feature lots of data. Stories can go beyond the numbers and put a human face on an organization’s efforts. Similarly, using storytelling for philanthropic purposes helps build support in local communities.
Storytelling is not a fad. It’s been central to civilization since the earliest recorded history. However, the ways that we use it have changed—especially for business. Now more than ever, stories are a powerful tool for corporate communicators.
How will your company use the story of its past and present to have an impact on its future?
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