Storytelling. Narrative. Content is king. What we say and how we say it is getting a lot of press lately. What do these buzzwords actually mean for a corporation? We’ve seen visceral reactions to even the word “storytelling” because of the idea that it’s something you do while relaxing and sitting around a campfire – not working to deliver on company strategy. But regardless of what name you give it, great content should top your internal priority list. Done correctly, it has the power to align and engage your employees, and ultimately deliver on your bottom line.
Full disclosure: I’m a writer at heart and a journalist by education. My knees get a little weak at the sight of a beautifully crafted sentence, and there are few things I believe in more firmly than the power of stories to move people, shape behavior and incite change.
I had the privilege of working at The Coca-Cola Company during what might be considered one of the more bold corporate communications shifts to date. The idea: Scrap the corporate website. Publish content that people actually want to read, even if it’s not directly related to the corporate strategy. I’m sure there were many cases of indigestion at the initial thought of this, but the results have proven powerful. You can read more about their story here.
Internal communications should be no different. There’s an assumption that employees will read bland, lengthy, corporate communications because they have to; but while your organization might be getting paid to work for you, they’re not getting paid to listen. And they won’t unless you create clear, creative and compelling content that engages them, inspires them, and gets them to take pause and really tune in.
Here are several ways to rethink the way your company does content:
- Spend some time with the data. Get to know what your audience really wants. Issue a survey. Host internal focus groups. Pull view counts on intranet stories. Identify a healthy balance of what’s interesting, relevant and useful to employees.
- Revisit your content strategy. Is employee communications a box to check or an opportunity to educate, empower and inspire? Are you engaging in conversation or just talking at your audience? Take a deep, honest look at what you’re publishing and when.
- Re-inspire your writers. Stay inside the walls of a corporation long enough and it’s natural to lose your creative energy. Get your writing team re-energized. Consider changing up your editorial meeting or inviting a local author to conduct a writing workshop.
- Be visual. Sometimes text is the best way to tell a story, but employees don’t always have the time or focus to read through a 500-word article. Consider some more visual options – video, animation, infographic, photo gallery, etc.
- Balance business with pleasure. Many companies assume that when it comes to content you can have interesting or strategic. Stories employees want to read or stories they need to read. We’d argue you can – and should -- have both. Make strategic links where at all possible, but speckle in some great feature stories when appropriate. Human interest pieces not only gain lots of attention, they keep employees coming back for more.
Between their daily responsibilities and the countless other media channels vying for their attention, employees have limited headspace for internal communications. Make the most of their time – and yours – by refocusing your approach to content.