By Kelsey Boudin
President and Founder, Southern Tier Communications Strategies, LLC
Human beings are hard-wired to be storytellers. Cavemen told tales around campfires warning of danger or directing his loved ones to food tens of thousands of years ago. Fast-forward a few millennia and we’re writing books and screenplays more vivid than reality and speeches that change the course of history.
We make social media posts. We produce news. We build grant proposals. And we thank our loyal followers, consumers and funders for their support.
Storytelling today is strategic. It’s powerful. It builds brands. Done poorly, it destroys them.
Behind it all is the written word. (No, it’s most certainly not dead.) It allows us to organize our thoughts into storylines that entertain, urge support, drive action and plan paths forward.
Great Storytelling Drives Your Industry, Too
What do you do? Do you manage a golf course? Do you run a caregiver support organization? Do you sell shoes?
Whatever you do, there’s a narrative calling a target audience — consciously or subconsciously — to participate. An internal narrative calls a golfer to play a certain course. It inspires a donor to give money or a volunteer their time. It compels a consumer to buy those really cute boots.
The intersection of your narrative and theirs is where they choose your course, your nonprofit or your brand.
Let’s look at some more storytelling examples and assess their importance in more detail.
Nonprofit Fundraising & Community Support
The average nonprofit must overcome a significant barrier in helping its community to overcome barriers of its own: funding.
Nonprofits need funding to exist and to enact programs and initiatives impacting those they serve. Some seek money to provide career training, addiction-recovery services or education to at-risk youth. Without a compelling narrative, they would not be able to secure grant funding to serve the people that desperately need it.
Also, a community can’t stand behind a mission it doesn’t know exists. Nonprofits must craft community messaging to urge support and participation by volunteers and constituents alike.
Nonprofit success requires a knack for storytelling to:
- Illustrate community need
- Build relationships with funders
- Draft funding proposals
- Be in it to win it
- Coordinate outreach via appropriate media channels
Problem is, most small nonprofits lack the human capital to strategize and implement such activities. A solution? Hire an experienced consultant to tackle the work you don’t have the time and resources to do.
Public Relations & Community Outreach
PR builds your sphere of influence through established media channels without the burden of paying to play. Businesses and organizations rely on expert communication to the public to:
- Promote community initiatives
- Address crises
- Mobilize support
You deserve to reach your audience without paid advertising, which often proves ineffective in furthering messages in true depth. Paid ads may seem the most direct way to your audience, but discerning audiences easily spot the difference between earned media and sponsored content. Being featured in renowned local, regional and national news outlets lends credibility to your community outreach strategy.
Your business or organization has a story to tell. You must tell it well by building and promoting a narrative around what you do.
Great PR professionals find ways to make the news. They find opportune times to weigh in on key events affecting clients and stakeholders. They turn your organization into a human-interest machine — beyond the occasional press release — using established and trusted media channels to amplify the message.
Enlisting the unbiased eyes of a third-party consultant helps to adjust failing strategies, refine messaging and produce a volume of multimedia.
Digital Marketing & Website Development
We live in a digitally dominated world. So where do you tell your brand’s story? Online, of course, where you’re sure to reach your audience as they seek answers to questions and engage with content virtually all day, every day, on multiple devices.
Users act and engage online in specific ways. It’s who they are: wonderfully different and unique in every way. They seek digital storytelling for education, enlightenment and entertainment in the following places:
- Social media
- & More
Businesses and organizations must strategize helpful digital content to meet audience needs. Whether you work in B2B or B2C markets, digital marketing should establish thought leadership in your industry. Great website development and digital presence — with a little edge from SEO — boosts relevant traffic and qualified sales leads while helping to retain brand evangelists.
But storytelling for the sake of storytelling doesn’t tell your brand’s story on its own. It must be crafted, honed, developed, revised, scrapped and revised again. Here, too, an unbiased consultant proves valuable in constructing effective messaging and distributing where appropriate online.
Are You Ready to Tell Your Story?
Storytelling today can meet any number of goals for businesses and organizations. Everyone should play a role in storytelling, in being a journalist, in detailing your realities and needs for audiences that can take action.
If you need help, there’s no shame in seeking a strategic communications consultant who listens to your needs.