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Building Authentic Connections with Corporate Storytelling

By Kathryn Ghita

 

Imagine, you are on a stage staring into a sea of expectant faces who are waiting on the edge of their seats to learn about your latest, greatest technology solution that will solve all their challenges. You’ve practiced, sweated over selecting just the right images for the accompanying visuals. As you take your first breath to start, the crowd gasps. Your mic has failed and the screen behind you is now dark – your logo and presentation title are gone. Yet, the spotlight is on you. The crowd thinks this is a theatrical stunt as part of your presentation.

 

Telling personal stories that are relatable and full of friction pulls in your audience and builds effective connections. Did this pull you in…. leaving you wanting to know what happened next? Could you picture yourself up there on the stage?

 

If yes, then you see the power of corporate storytelling.

 

Building Brand Identity Through Stories

Stories educate and entertain simultaneously. Corporate storytelling is essential for every business, whether it’s a large Fortune 500 or a small start-up. It communicates the company mission, values and brand in a manner that resonates with the intended audience – whether it is customers, employees or investors.

 

Stories educate and entertain simultaneously. Studies have shown that the subconscious – the part of the brain driven by emotion – shapes preferences and loyalty. When corporate storytelling is done right, it elicits an emotional response that can reach a purchaser in a sales situation or inspire loyalty amongst employees.

 

Good stories drive action. When leaders incorporate corporate storytelling into their presentations – and even one-on-one interactions – they build a relationship with an audience. It fosters a connection and humanizes the company. Stories help to simplify complex ideas into relatable components and bring life to a subject.

 

Building Engaging Corporate Narratives in PR

When creating effective storytelling narratives, start with a goal in mind. What do you want this story to accomplish and who should hear it, i.e., internal or external audiences? For customers, consider their motivation to buy your solution, how can you relate to their pain points? Internal audiences will need a different story that will increase morale, company loyalty, engagement and productivity.

 

Corporate storytelling is more than just an anecdote. Like any good chronicle, it must clearly set the scene and characters – including the hero and villain. This story arc must introduce friction or a plot twist with a dramatic turn of events. In the story at the beginning of this post, friction came when the technology failed, drawing us to ask what happened next. Fairy tales are good at creating this friction using a villain character that makes the audience cheer for and relate to the hero. PR strategists know how to channel this friction into success storylines that position their client as the hero.

 

Additionally, ensure that each of these stories ends with a key message or learning. This idea is what you want the audience to remember – a call to action. Simply put, a successful corporate story will build brand identity. Think back to the Aesop’s Fables, whether it was the ‘Tortoise and Hare’ or the ‘Ant and the Grasshopper,’ each story left us with a lesson. A balanced narrative that includes both logical parts (data and facts) alongside emotional reactions will resonate and help the audience retain, relate and want to act.

 

Creating these corporate communication stories are imperative for successful PR campaigns as a narrative easily shares the company’s strategies and goals in a clear manner that journalists will appreciate. These story arcs are the speaking points that thought leaders and executives share in media interviews and presentations. The executives will be the heroes of their tales.

 

Driving Narratives Forward

To finish our story about the presenter on stage at the beginning of this post, you can imagine that once her blood pressure and adrenaline went back to normal, she got into a rhythm and successfully finished the presentation. Visualize her red-faced, shocked, open mouth expression at the start turning into a confident smile as she kept the attendees engaged. The audience has caught on to the unplanned technology hijinks and gives her a standing ovation.

 

What story would you use in your next presentation to engage with employees, customers and investors? How can you channel your message into an engaging, relatable and memorable narrative?

 

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