Storytelling Week 2021: communicate with impact

Oxford PR agency

This week has marked National Storytelling Week, a celebration of communications and creativity. It is a great reminder of the importance of storytelling – and how if it is embraced by businesses it can vastly improve brand awareness and engagement.

There are multiple ways in which organisations communicate and each piece of content should serve a purpose, be part of a wider strategy and support business objectives. One of the most effective ways of engaging your audience can be achieved by mastering the art of storytelling. 

Storytelling


People enjoy a good story and storytelling provides companies with an opportunity to break away from the traditional corporate press release and achieve a higher level of engagement. This means having a journalist’s nose’ for a good story and a writer’s flair to bring stories to life. 

Understanding storytelling first is important. Storytelling has become another industry buzzword and is often misunderstood. Not every piece of communications you produce will be or should be a story. Some will be straight forward information, a company announcement, or the sharing of expertise via thought leadership. Each piece will contain certain storytelling techniques, but there are subtle differences. 

The art of storytelling 


Storytelling is hard to do without professional training. Firstly, it should only be done when it is appropriate to do so and secondly it is important it is engaging, authentic and as interesting as possible. It also needs to fit your strategy and maintain and develop your overall narrative. Having the ability to self-publish content is a wonderful opportunity for businesses, charities, and individuals, but many corporate blogs are bland and do not offer anything different to readers. 

To be successful at corporate storytelling requires investment in the expertise and the time it takes to produce quality content. The key is making sure your stories are real, add value and build your narrative. 

Storytelling requires softening traditional corporate communications, avoid jargon, humanise your stories as much as possible and include anecdotes. Storytelling provides an opportunity to produce feature style content, that is engaging, detailed and a joy to read. The organisations that are getting this right are experiencing an increase in brand awareness, brand understanding and engagement with their audience. Being able to self-publish has created this opportunity, but to truly grab it organisations need an editorial approach combined with strategic communications acumen to excel. 

Identifying stories


It is important to focus on the story when writing and allow the company narrative to be subtly crafted into the article. Rather than focusing on the corporate message at the beginning. Storytelling can involve a variety of approaches, but one strong area is people stories. People love reading human-interest stories and people like to hear from people, rather than corporations. This means making your colleagues and your customers the heroes of your stories. Have you got an apprentice whose life was been changed by their placement? Has one of your colleagues raised money for charity? Has your business helped in your community? Has one of your colleagues worked at the company for 50 years? These are stories and they can bring your organisation to life, help people better understand your culture and values and improve your reputation. 

Many businesses have a lot of great stories to tell. The skill is in identifying a story and having the ability to tell it in a way that will engage your audience, either via your platforms, and or, via the media. Get it right and you will stand out from the crowd, evoke emotion, and improve connectivity with your audience. 

Crafting a story 


The first thing you learn at journalism college is the Five W’s’: who, what, why, where, when (and how). They are the key components you need to include in any good story. Once you have covered this you will have formulated the basis of your story. The trick then is to develop your narrative via anecdotes and further detail. Make it interesting and put the strongest information at the beginning of the story. People have short attention spans, so it is crucial you grab their attention, draw them into the story and make them want to read on. One mistake a lot of people make is to write articles in chronological order. 

People refer to a good book as a page turner’. This is the sort of level to aspire to with your communications. Create content that grabs people. 

Storytelling is an important part of PR and communications. At Fortitude, our core team are former journalists, and we are experienced in the art of storytelling. It means we can spot a great story, know how to tell it, when to tell it, and where, to provide maximum impact. Our tactical output is always part of a strategy and integrated communications schedule, meaning stories are on-message, strategic, and part of a wider narrative. 

The impact of storytelling 


People are bombarded with content daily. Therefore, it is more important than ever to create quality content that stands out from the crowd. What impact will this have? Firstly, it will provide a stronger chance of your content being read and shared. The impact can be multiple. It could have an immediate impact if it is very contemporary or eye-catching. But furthermore, if it is informative and online, it will continue to work for you on an ongoing basis, improving your website’s authority and rank and helping attract people to your business. Overall, it will increase your engagement with your audience. 

Louise Merritt, director at education provider Velocity Football and apprentice training company Ignite Sport UK, said storytelling delivered by Fortitude Communications has had a huge impact for her businesses. 

There has never been a more important time for us to communicate to existing and potential customers and their families,” she said. People are engaging more because they have more time and we’re now telling stories in a compelling way. 

The storytelling aspect of our PR and communications campaign has been incredible. 

It has really helped tell our stories and get under the skin of who we are and our culture in a way we could never have done on our own. The results of storytelling have been huge, and we have experienced a significant increase in engagement and value to our businesses.

Once you have invested into PR, you reflect and question how you survived without it previously.” 

Chris Lowes, head of Oxford United in the Community added: Fortitude manage our strategic communication and the storytelling aspect has been on another level. 

Storytelling has made a big difference to our charity. By telling great stories about our outreach and the people we help it has really improved awareness, engagement and buy in. Storytelling has helped our charity in a way I did not think was possible.”

Get in touch 


If you would like to discuss how storytelling could help your organisation please get in touch here.

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