(post by Andrew Thorp)
The other day my business partner Sara was out networking and she had an interesting exchange with a chap from a bank. Asked to introduce herself, she explained that we help businesses use stories to good effect, to help them stand out from their rivals and engage people. “Ah,” the man replied. “I bet Corporate Social Responsibility comes into that. We’re really big into CSR.” “Really,” replied Sara, “can you give me an example?” At this point the man got a bit flustered. “Err, well…we have a department that deals with that sort of thing.”
Of course Sara could have been a potential client who happened to strongly believe in the responsibilities a company has to its local community. That exchange could have blown any opportunity the banker had to win her business. To my mind, this says 2 clear things:
Firstly, the importance of making employees feel connected to the vision and purpose and values of their company/organisation. Is it part of their DNA, or just some nice sounding words in a frame?
Second, when you’re asked to give an example of something you claim is important to you, that’s when you need to draw on your ‘story vault’. These are items stored in your mental filing cabinet that you pull out at a moment’s notice and weave into the conversation. They need to be accumulated and practised, so you’re able to respond to the incoming query.
A lot of companies claim they struggle to get ‘stories’ from employees but they need the right encouragement and coaching in a) how to identify one when they see it, and b) how to tell it well. In the case of the banker, it might not have been HIS story but that doesn’t matter. He should know what’s being achieved by other departments and show pride in sharing that story.
My message here is that organisations need to treat storytelling as an integral part of their marketing AND employee engagement strategy. There’s a wonderful quote by Terrence Gargiulo who said, “The shortest distance between two people is a story.” That’s because stories CONNECT and effective communication, the bedrock of marketing and successful corporate cultures, is all about connection.
If you feel your company could benefit from developing communication that connects (internal & external communications) contact us to find out how we can help or take a look at our packages.