The best stories are those which quickly and effectively illustrate the purpose, policy or objectives of the organization. They are “moral tales” or “fables” because they are designed (or they just happen) to inspire stakeholders by linking them emotionally with the organization.
Organizations can sometimes fail to capitalize on great performances because their stories are poorly conceived, unaligned, unfocussed or difficult to access.
Saying that your organization provides ‘exceptional customer service’, ‘adds value’, or is “passionate about” something doesn’t necessarily inspire a prospect, either because others say the same things or because the narrative has become overused. Good storytelling has to avoid clichés even while reflecting an organization’s messages.
Corporate storytelling relies on facts; fiction is not an option. The best factual stories are often simple: they allow the reader the freedom to mediate and interpret them. This is important as otherwise they will not transmit effectively. Any degree of complexity, and doing any more than telling, for example lecturing or exaggerating, will tend to make them less effective. Each story should aim to be inspiring and catalytic in its impact more than in its delivery. And of course, each story should deliver and illuminate key elements in the messages developed for the company or organization.
Storytelling is often the vehicle in which the most successful organizations use social media and corporate communications to improve the reputation of their businesses with their stakeholders. In the best organizations, the stories determine the content because they are conversations: more stories are generated and created from consumers, stakeholders and other third parties than from the organization itself. These become the substance of the organization’s reputation.
The need to ensure alignment between the stories and the messages diminishes until an organic and open communications process emerges in which the strategy, objectives and messages of the organization are well understood, accepted and approved by its stakeholders.
This is the gift that keeps giving: the dividend of good corporate storytelling.