Who doesn’t love a good story?

Corporate communications and the power of storytelling

(Note: This blog post originally appeared on LinkedIn in 2016).

By Will Martin

Storytelling. It’s not just for consumers, anymore.

Storytelling is emerging as the foundation of professional communication. In order for people to buy our product, they first need to believe in our story. People want to belong, even when it comes to lattes and smartphones. Once again, it’s all about community. 

But as marketing and public relations pros, we too often relegate our storytelling energies toward our consumer audiences. These profit-churning stakeholders enjoy the lion’s share of our creative efforts, while the media, our investors and online influencers get our table scraps.

But the reality is we all want to “buy in,” even those of us who have literally bought in as investors and shareholders. We want to be inspired, experience connection and feel we are somehow above the sterility and naked greed normally (if unfairly) associated with corporate America.

Stakeholders, argues Paul Argenti, need to be “empowered” to share stories and experience relationship. In “Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications,” the noted corporate communicator states that our “fragmented” media landscape begs for the community-building that storytelling empowers.

Coke gets it. But then again, the soda-slinging powerhouse seems to get all things content marketing. The Coca-Cola corporate site is a study in corporate storytelling par excellence. Aesthetically striking, story-rich and brilliantly named (the “Coca-Cola Journey”), the site invites all its stakeholders into the Coke community.

In its “Content Marketing 101” whitepaper, NewsCred.com pinpoints storytelling as a key to becoming a “production powerhouse” of quality content. Rather than PR firms, communicators should see their offices as newsrooms, capable of producing the stories, images, and interactive media their audiences crave.

Once again, enter Coke. Its “One Brand” marketing strategy, for example, is portrayed beautifully as a news story rather than a corporate dictate. It’s about unity, equity, and commitment to choice, see. In unveiling a snazzy line of cans based on Marvel Comics characters, Coke invites visitors to meet the graphic artist behind the designs, complete with early sketches and tips on visual information emerging practices.

When it comes to corporate communications, Coke is telling a story, one that more than just its soda-imbibing audience can believe.

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