How content can invigorate your corporate culture

IBM convention, New York, 1947

Unleashing stories of your company’s hard work and expertise can build a stream of compelling content and strengthen corporate culture – boosting your bottom line

“Thanks to the new storytelling approach and thanks to you I’ve been discovering a whole new world within my company. Seriously.”

So said one of our clients.

We’ve been writing pieces for the client’s website – interviews with the workforce as well as externally-sourced material – but what they were referring to was the variety of new folk being encountered from different departments. R&D, sustainability, HR… by getting to know them and their work they were rediscovering the company and engaging with it more and more.

Unexpected benefits

Clearly that’s just the start. The more people can be drawn in by the story-driven content approach, the greater the benefits for the companies concerned.

Sharing stories within an organisation – how people carry out their tasks, their experiences, goals and achievements – helps to build a sense of mutual respect and understanding. That helps them work together. And makes organisations better.

Once you unlock stories, new and exciting things happen. A leading business school launched a 50-year retrospective and wrote a series of articles about its achievements. These were published externally, but they also served a purpose closer to home. The project leader asked members of her team to give a short presentation about each of the themes at their weekly meeting. That allowed each individual to develop a deeper connection with the achievements of the school and what it is about. It wasn’t the project’s initial aim, but it developed as the stories were written and strengthened its impact.

Better communications

We are witnessing the birth of a new breed of communications that crosses the old divide of internal comms and external comms. Our aim as a content agency is to create material that is good enough for both audiences.

It’s no longer enough to show a photo of someone holding their award as Employee of the Month; we want to learn what they’ve been doing and why. To unlock the motivation that has kept them working hard at their job, and reveal the craft and knowledge that they possess. Sharing such insights can help build bridges within companies – and might interest people outside the organisation, too.

It’s what Adjunct Professor Dominic Houlder and Executive Fellow Nandu Nandkishore of the London Business School refer to when they call on chief executives to become “chief storytelling officers” – and for managers to tell the stories of defeats and victories as a way of helping a firm’s sense of purpose. “Recounting vulnerable times invites people – customers, employees and shareholders – into an insider’s network, it makes people trust and belong,” they say. “For people to feel and ultimately do, they must understand where the organisation fits into the wider environment, where it’s been and where it’s going.”

A good approach to content can help those stories to be heard. And it’s important that support for it comes from the top.

Motivating employees

Clearly not every piece will  work externally, but as journalists we are used to finding a story anywhere. And most companies are sitting on gems but don’t realise it. Such an approach can produce a stream of content that will help to build a company’s profile and keep it at the top of Google searches and the front of consumers’ minds.

Companies are doing great things – and they’re employing people who are giving them their time and their commitment. We want to release that potential, from senior leaders who feel distanced from their marketing departments to the average Joanne who’s prepared to believe passionately in what they do.

As we’ve heard from the business professors, unlocking those stories can help build corporate culture. It’s a way of recognising people for the contributions they are making so they feel their efforts are worthwhile, that they are building something together and will continue to work hard to do so. All of which in turn helps their companies to be better and more profitable.

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