A story well told can captivate our imagination.
A good narrative engenders a range of emotions. It can elicit excitement or encourage loyalty. It can provoke alternative thought or powerful debate. It can make people hopeful, greedy, melancholic or pensive. It can make us fearful, indignant or it can make us feel all warm and fuzzy.
Stories can inspire. They have power.
Which is precisely why you should be telling the world the feel-good stories about your business. Even the bad ones, as long as there’s a lesson attached that your team has learned from. Embracing failure and showing what you’ve done to improve things will make your company come across as more trustworthy.
Where and when possible, err on the side of (cautious) transparency. Don’t overshare. Just be straight.
Stories are a fantastic form of marketing, especially if people want to re-tell them. Stories bring out the human factor. They tell people who devises our products, who packages, posts and delivers them, who answers the phone, who comes up with our strategies. Stories make consumers relate to us on a human level and they make our team feel recognised and appreciated.
Yes, the world is moving towards a labour force run on AI and sentient android life forms. Yes, things have gotten more automated, more generic and less personalised. But right now, your clients are still people. People who want to be inspired and entertained. People who want to choose your business over another, not only because they value your work or product offering, but because they identify with your values and sensibilities. People who don’t want to be bored by facts and figures alone. (Yes, the bottom line matters, of course it does, but all bottom lines and no stories are much like all work and no play.)
We don’t all have the gift of the gab. And corporate communication is a minefield. Not every newsletter, emailer or social media post can share the same content, style or tone. We have to choose these carefully to suit our target audience. However, we’d like to share some basic tips to make sure you choose the right stories and tell them well. Give it a try, and if you don’t have the time or inclination, we’ll do the telling for you.
Be honest and use plain language: Avoid “big fish” tales. Be precise. Be direct. Use adjectives and adverbs sparingly. Your corporate communication should be easy to read and easy to follow.
Mix it up: Highlight different aspects of your business. If you tell personal stories about team members, make sure they are relevant to the business. If you add images or graphics (as you should) to newsletters, social media posts or emailers, make sure they’re good quality and relevant.
Don’t get too technical (even if it’s technical): Even if you’re writing the monthly update for the Astrophysicists’ Association of New England, balance out the tech speak. Avoid being too wordy or using jargon unnecessarily to sound clever. Empower your readers. Let them feel clever for understanding what you’re trying to communicate. That is the mark of a good writer. Park your ego at the door and write for readers, not for yourself.
Bring in humour when appropriate (but don’t be callous, glib or facetious): Humour warms people to us. Authentic self-deprecation, gentle teasing or funny anecdotes make us seem more real and reachable. But check in with someone to make sure your tone and content are appropriate.
Give honour where honour is due: Always acknowledge those who have worked hard or done something notable to grow your business. Be it “Employee of the month” or a little write-up in a newsletter, it’s the stories of human achievement, commitment and perseverance that keep us all going. We all need a pat on the back, or a thumb’s up, and weaving staff contributions into our brand narrative makes everyone a winner.