There are some formative moments in any culture that get lost if they’re not documented and shared. Leaders who pass on what they’ve learned through adversity ultimately impact generations to come. Those who do not share these experiences, withhold invaluable wisdom and perspective that would otherwise benefit the community they led even years after their departure.
Storytelling is how human communities have passed knowledge from one generation of leadership to another for centuries. Our place of work is no different.
Last year, we worked on a major brand building project where we employed a major content marketing strategy. We developed and published over forty articles online that were subsequently shared through corporate and personal social channels.
Early on in the campaign, it became apparent that perhaps the campaign was just as important for building internal culture as it was for building the customer-facing brand. In many cases, the articles were the first time that employees contributed their personal stories, learned how the company worked in the early-90’s, or discovered how other offices in different locations were established. More than just a by-product of this campaign, impressionable stories were getting passed on to younger executives, managers, and front-line employees. A lot happens in the history of an organization. All of these “moments-of-truth” that make or break an organization prove to be pivotal for those who were there to learn from them. If you were not there to experience it, you were none the wiser. Why are these moments not shared formally within organizations?
Today, telling stories is a little bit different – in some ways more difficult. We have less time to spend with each other face-to-face. How often can you get more than 15 minutes of your CEO’s time where he or she may naturally share an anecdote or two about how the company made it through the tough early days? Not often.
In some ways, telling stories today is even more impactful. Today, when a story is captured, it can be shared in so many different ways. Audio (podcast), video, blog format, and even social. There is an amplifier effect that can be applied to the story – tell it once then share it a number of ways.
Building brand awareness can coincide with building culture. Telling those same stories to customers shows them that you are resilient but also human. What’s that adage that people do business with people – or humans do business with humans? What can be more human than telling stories?
Let’s get back to marketing. Telling the story of an organization’s people, history, etc. is part of the evolution of marketing as it becomes more content focused. Companies need to think of themselves as self-publishers rather than advertisers. Our industry has already gone in this direction and, thankfully, some of our clients agree.To see storytelling in action, check out our case study called “The 25th Anniversary.”
Through open conversation and informal brainstorming, we can all take something valuable away from new ideas and trends. We’d be happy to discuss what we’ve written here today and get your thoughts. We want to know what you think.