People like stories. People understand stories. People engage with stories.
I know, revolutionary. Bear with me.
Think about the information you consume on a daily basis – most of it will come in a story format. Whether it’s the news, blog posts, songs on the radio, or simply a good old-fashioned book. Stories are all around us.
So why don’t more companies include stories at the heart of their communications campaigns? Er… I’m not sure. But they should.
Stories should be a core part of your corporate narrative. Stories make complex subjects easier to digest, they make things more interesting (you would hope!), and they help make the topic more relatable to the audience.
Stories are the way companies change reputations, alter perceptions.
And so, my top tips to telling a great corporate story:
Keep it simple
I know you know your product back to front but, in all probability, no one else does. Believe me, they don’t understand that acronym, and they’re not entirely sure what “interfacing” means (and frankly, there’s no place for it here). Short sentences, simple words, and please, please, please use an active voice. No “further instructions will be given to you by your boss” type phrases, I’m begging you.
All good stories have people in them. Five out of the top ten magazines in the UK concentrate exclusively on human-interest stories (think “My lying hubby was hiding a secret wife” or “Dumped for my daughter’s best friend”.)
While I’m sure the new HR policy is very interesting, your audience is more likely to engage with the process if they know how it’ll affect people like them. Hearing how Stephen now has a better work/life balance is something they can relate to. It’s something which may prompt them to take action.
Use examples or analogies
“If my computer was a car, it would probably have been a Ford. Reliable, but not that quick. Thanks to the upgrades from the IT team here at ACME Co. I’ve now got an Audi – quick, responsive, and does everything I need it to.” Putting your message into a real life context will help the audience relate to the story. Using analogies that relate to actual people having actual experiences are much easier to understand than high level corporate blabble.
Have an ending with a clear call to action
If there’s no point to your communications – if you’re not asking your audience to do or think something – then don’t do it. It will just add to the noise employees have to wade through every day (the average worker receives over 120 emails a day!)
What’s your objective? What are you trying to achieve? What should your audience do with this information? Is there one message you would like the audience to act on? End with this.
So, communicators, please. Help your colleagues tell stories. And if you don’t know how, I know someone who can help. (Hint: me)
Beaumont is a communications agency based in Lausanne, Switzerland. We work with clients all around the world to change the way they talk about themselves – helping them create engaging stories that motivate action.