“Your company isn’t just an organization. It is a story,” according to a Storytelling Guide by Nasdaq Media Intelligence.
The paper, which is quick and easy primer on storytelling, defines a story as “a character in pursuit of a goal in the face of some challenge or obstacle.”
It seems simple enough, but corporate communications often stops with just two parts of a three-part framework – a character in pursuit of a goal. This happens because corporate leaders tend to get hemmed up over revealing obstacles, or what Lou Hoffman often refers to as tension in storytelling:
“It’s a tough one for executives because it’s counterintuitive. You never hear about a company hiring a PR agency “to get the bad word out.”
Yet, the ability to bring failure or even a problem to the narrative is what separates industrial-grade storytelling from “but enough about me; let’s talk about me” copy. Whether you call it tension or drama, there is none unless something bad happens, which sets the stage for the company to demonstrate its character in overcoming the bad stuff.”
Obstacles or tension represent the unvarnished side of business – the product that flopped or the service experience executives find embarrassing. Most corporate leaders don’t want to discuss such failures behind closed doors, let alone share it transparently in public.
This why every corporate story looks, reads and feels the same way: bland.
Henry Ford is credited with having said, “Even a mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worthwhile achievement.” To stand out, corporations should look for and embrace the conflict and tension in a larger context.
This means revealing weakness transformed into strength, because, without tension, there is no storytelling.
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