Stories are memorable. I know that goes without saying, but a story that includes a statistic is more than a dozen times more memorable than a statistic alone. So, why aren’t we better at telling stories? It comes down to a few simple approaches.
Tell stories people want to hear, not just the ones you want to tell
This is a major issue with most corporate storytelling. The author has something they want to say and tries to force it into a story form. Usually it’s a product, viewpoint, service or news item. The most important thing is to put yourself in the shoes of your target story consumer and ask yourself, “Would I want to read this?”
Use this simple hierarchy to drive your thinking:
- Your audience wants to read it
- Your consumer learns something
- That learning promotes your viewpoint
- That viewpoint leads to your organization
For example, if I read an adventure article that describes an exciting trip down the Amazon in a kayak, I could learn about paddling techniques and the importance of certain types of paddles that can lead me to purchase one from a company that provides such an item.
Lead with your hero and mission
If you want to tell a story about how your company is a great place to work, pick an interesting angle to build your story around. It could be your flexible work policy, or how you support community projects. Start with your hero and his or her mission. For example: Jennifer is devoted to volunteering at the greyhound adoption shelter helping ex-racers find new homes. Every third Thursday afternoon she gathers donations of dog food and cleaning supplies and brings them to the shelter. She’s able to do this due to the Flex-work program at your company.
The combination of an employee, community service and helping retired greyhounds will connect the reader or listener with how a noble mission is being supported by the policies of the employer.
The Five Ws and the right vehicle
Every journalist knows the five Ws; who, what, when, where and why. There is also the one H for “how” that is in the conversation. Each area of detail creates a picture in the mind of the reader, listener or viewer. The more concrete the details, the better their connection with the content. Video and audio provide an edge for some of these elements, so the vehicle for your story is important to consider. Do you have a speaker with a great and emotive voice? Consider a podcast. Does your story take place in a YMCA with rock climbing walls, childcare and senior citizens practicing Tai Chi? Shoot a video.
When crafting a story, the goal is to connect with the audience, so figure out how to create a story that is more like an episode of CSI than a datasheet, and you’ll be well on your way.