Capturing Imaginations with Great Stories
Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012
How to extend the reach and influence of your CSR efforts
The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in. -Harold Goddard
When a company does good things for people and the environment, that's a good thing in itself. But to have the greatest impact, those good things need to be shared with the rest of the world. Spreading the message about socially responsible corporate activities can inspire change in both consumers and other companies. Often the message is disseminated via the annual report which can be so full of numbers and statistics that no one bothers to read it. Even the most beautifully-produced report, regardless of its medium, will be largely ignored if it isn't engaging. To engage people, you need to tell them a great story.
The elements of a great story
In 2011, the Coca Cola Company released the video Content 2020 providing an overview of the way it plans to engage its customers. It's marketing-based, but it applies so well to how CSR and sustainability efforts should be treated that I wanted to share some of the key points with you:
- "Create ideas so contagious they cannot be controlled." - If you make your message easy to spread, it's more likely that it will.
- "Consumer generated stories outnumber Coca-Cola Company-generated stories on most of (Coca-Cola's) brands." - You can no longer control or contain what people say about you so why not give your customers a platform on which to share their stories with you and the world? Being proactive and asking for their stories is even better.
- "Focus on the evolution of storytelling and move from one-way storytelling to dynamic storytelling." - Don't just tell your stories. Allow your customers to interact with them, identify with them, share them, and then tell their own stories.
- "Stories provoke conversations. We need to react to those conversations 365 days a year...In online conversations, let's not just listen; let's converse." - If your consumers want to engage with you, be sure to give them an easy way to do it and make sure you provide a receptive and responsive ear at the other end.
- "Stories must show commitment to making the world a better place and must add value and significance to people's lives." - No matter what good you do in the world, if it isn't personally relevant to people's lives they will not listen. Make it relevant and it will hit home.
- "Our powerful position in the world affords us the opportunity and responsibility to create significant positive change in the world and every employee needs to ensure (Coca-Cola's) brands succeed in the way that makes the world a better place. Our principles must apply to our daily lives, activities and operations." - Live your message. And then share more stories about it.
- "We can develop deeper connections through storytelling. It is at the heart of all families, communities and cultures." - Great stories are memorable. They bind.
The idea of using storytelling in business isn't a new one. The difference is that technology and consumer demand for transparency have changed the game. The "family" is a bit larger than it once was...
Here are some other links that provide good information about using storytelling for business:
Who are some of your favorite CSR storytellers?
Image via Flickr user garlandcannon